Once Upon A Time Interviews

As Once Upon A Time returns to UK screens on Channel 5 (Sunday, 9pm), we catch up with Snow White, Prince Charming, Belle and Emma Swan.

Once Upon A Time 's first season finale was the very definition of a gamechanger – and stop reading now if you haven't watched it yet! The evil curse that sentenced the residents of Fairytale world (aka a land far, far away) to live mundane existences in our reality had formed the entire crux of the show. Then the writers threw us a great big curveball by smashing the curse to smithereens, and colliding their two realities together so that Storybrooke's townsfolk remembered their fantastical pasts. We spoke to four of the stars to find out what to expect in this brave new world...

First up Snow White, AKA Ginnifer Goodwin...

With the curse being broken, the season one finale changed the rules of the show. Does that make it exciting for you coming into season two?
I’m shocked because I thought the crux of the entire series was going to be that we needed to break this curse. But I think we went so far during the first season that we kind of had no choice but to break the curse. Our creators think so far outside of the box and so much moved forward at such a fast pace that this is exactly what should’ve happened. So I’m satisfied as an audience member is what I’m trying to say. Then as an actress I’m very excited because whereas I thought I was always going to be playing two separate characters, I will now not only being playing those characters in the flashbacks, I will now be an amalgamation of those characters in the present.

How hard is it to play multiple versions of the same character?
It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. I think it was difficult to establish the differences. I was wrestling with it for a while and in the beginning I tried to create Mary Margaret as a sort of polar opposite of Snow White, but then I realised that that isn’t necessarily what it is. Whereas Snow White for instance is fiercely optimistic and has faith, I realised that to be self-indulgent in some kind of depression or pessimism would have been too satisfying a state, because that self-indulgence itself would have been satisfying – and the Evil Queen instead would want instead for Mary Margaret to always almost be happy and then push her own happiness away, to find an excuse not to be happy and be her own biggest problem. Therefore the creation of Mary Margaret came about when I started making lists of all the things I thought the Evil Queen would want her to be. But then I feel like everything sort of flowed after that and also our scripts are so good that the words really do most of the work for us.

Do you like to know in advance what's happening to your character?
Absolutely, as I am always dying to know what happens and I do beg for little tidbits here and there and everyone once in a while I’ll get one. Knowing that Little Red Riding Hood was going to be the wolf... I think I flew through the roof when I heard that I was so excited. Knowing that Captain Hook is coming has been really exciting, I mean I didn’t even tell my family, and I’ve been dying to tell everyone.

There have been a few other Snow Whites on screen lately, with Snow White And The Huntsman and Mirror Mirror . What do you think of the other interpretations?
Theres a lot of Snow going on! I saw those movies and I thought they were both incredible interpretations of the story and I was really happy that, I think that when we went into production, I guess it was like a year and a half ago, and we knew that those movies were going and we were worried that there would be some kind of, I don’t know, competition. But you can’t compare them, they’re so different, but I do think it’s interesting that fairytales are in the zeitgeist right now.

Click next for Prince Charming, aka Josh Dallas...

Prince Charming, aka Josh Dallas

Your character's world has been rocked in so many different ways in both universes...
So many different ways and its funny because I think in a lot of ways the curse affected him more than any other character for some reason. I know everybody was affected but David, he had it bad, he was the total and complete opposite to Charming. He couldn’t ever step up to the plate the way that Charming would, but season two is going to be a little different… magic is back!

So is he going to be standing up and taking charge this year?
I think so, I think that’s the great thing about magic coming to Storybrooke even though were not quite sure how that magic is going to work. He certainly remembers who he is and Regina has a lot to answer for. He knows he has a daughter that he’s aware of that is grown and he missed out on her entire childhood and he has a grandson, he’s angry about that, he was robbed of that. So it’s him trying to figure that and it's also Charming realising who he is, but he also has all of David still in him because he lived that life as David, he lived all those emotions, he went through that. He was torn apart from Snow, David hurt the woman that he loved, that Charming loved more than life, he hurt her, so he’s angry, so Regina better watch out.

Now that Charming's back, will we see more duality or melding of his personality with David's?
He will never forget David. I think it will live within him but I don’t think he’ll hold on to it. I think he’ll try to figure it out in the first few episodes; he’ll try to figure out what that is and how that fits with him now. Charming has David’s memories, but Charming knows what to do. Charming has a great moral compass to him and he’ll figure it out.

It's presumably going to be a fairly emotional ride for you. How will you get into the right mindset?
Ha! It was kind of emotional from the first season, from the first thing. So we’ve been kind of conditioned that way, so it’s something that I, as an actor, look forward to playing all the time and it gives you so much scope as an actor and so much to play with. So I’m looking forward to it you know, I relish it and welcome it.

Do you almost look at this as a reboot for the character, as this is kind of the third introduction of the character that you’ve played basically?
Yeah, and that is what’s so genius about our creators is that they keep pushing the envelope of the show. As an audience member and as an actor in the show I had assumed that the curse was the crux of the whole series on and on and on. But they demolished that and they pushed it and said okay, we're going to change the show now, we're going to change how it works and what it means and it's so exciting to be able to play that. And like you said he kind of becomes the third character to himself, even though it’s the same guy.

Do you still have the flashbacks to the fairytale land?
Yeah, I think that will always feature in pretty much every episode, where we will go back and we will explore more of Snow and Charming's relationship in different periods of time. We will move it forward; we’ll move it backward. So yeah they will come into it for sure.

What’s your personal one thing you’re looking forward to getting to do in this series?
I’m looking forward to Charming coming into Storybrooke for sure. I’m looking forward to exploring that relationship between Emma and Snow and my grandson, Henry, and I’m looking forward to exploring that family dynamic and seeing where that takes them.

Click next for Belle, aka Emilie de Ravin...

Belle, aka Emilie de Ravin

Now Belle's free, will she be continuing her relationship with Rumpelstiltskin?
Starting off, Rumpel's the only one who she knows [in Storybrooke] or even knows who she is. So it’s going to be a long, probably quite confusing journey for her not only being in this completely foreign world/land/town/country (whatever she perceives it to be at this point), he’s the only person she has a clue who he really is. I think that it will be an interesting ride for her finding out everyone’s story and bputting the puzzle together.

Were you excited when you read the finale and saw that you were going to get out of the prison in Storybrooke and be more a part of this world?
That was actually one of the most exciting parts because I knew that they were going to get me out but it was always first of all how are you going to reveal it and second of all, to actually get her out, how is that going to happen? Is she going to break out? Or is she going to be saved? So it’s cool, because she was there as bait, basically, for all these years and now the queen basically has no way to be the one in control – I was that bait that she could put in front of her and say "Hey, don’t shoot me".

Would you have preferred Belle to be more active in her salvation?
I really don’t think that there would be a way [to do that]. Theoretically it would have been cool if she had broken out through the windows, but then it would be like, why didn’t you do that like 10 years ago? So I think she’s probably tried, if anything, everything she could do.

How is Storybrooke different now the curse has been lifted?
God, how is it not different? Reading the first couple of episodes it feels like basically a third dimension now. Because everyone’s perception of where they are and who they are is completely different. So therefore, if your own perception is different then everything else is like "everything I believed for x amount of years is just not even true or real or even there in history".

Is that exciting to play around in a universe where the rules have changed?
Yeah it is and it’s a reboot in a way, but there's also a load of reflection, I think, too. Because even though everyone has had these created memories in the entire time of their being in Storybrooke, there’s still that part of them that’s true to themselves. So I think it’s an interesting look at two parts of someone – one that’s been completely manufactured and then there's the other part that’s been there all along since birth, and that kind of intersection is what’s going on right now.

Click next for Emma Swan, aka Jennifer Morrison...

Emma Swan, aka Jennifer Morrison

Most of the other characters in the show will have hybrid roles, but Emma is the same person she was. How does the curse being broken affect her?
I don’t think that it’s going to effect Emma in Storybrooke in the sense that she’s still who she is. And obviously her world has been turned upside down because of the things she’s now believing in and because it’s been proven to her and revealed to her that this is something that’s true and she’s believing in. So there’s going to be all sorts of emotional repercussions for her to deal with. But I do think that if magic coming into reality means that she can go to Fairytale land, if it still exists, then it will be an adjustment for her to exist in a world that she’s never existed in; the same way it was an adjustment for the characters who were fairytale characters to adjust to reality. So I think that’s where we’ll see Emma sort of shift or some sort of adjustment to who she is in order to exist in a new world.

Is she going to understand that Charming and Snow White are her parents?
Oh absolutely, she’s going to have to accept it. I mean I think that in the season finale she realises that to be true, there's just no time to deal with it. Because she’s trying to save her son's life, because there's this race against the clock of saving his life there’s no time to process the information that she’s been given. So season two is now going to start in a place where she’s now having to process all of these new revelations and all of these things that have been turned around for her.

Was it a surprise for you that the writers decided to resolve the main curse at the end of the first season?
I think if you asked me at the very beginning of the season if they were going to reveal it at the end of the season I wouldn’t have guessed that. But I think as we kind of naturally moved through the season we started realising that Emma was starting to have certain pieces of proof that were going to be very hard for her to ignore without her seeming not smart. So it started to become a natural direction for that season in terms of the timing of when it needed to be revealed that this was all true for her. If they had pushed much further beyond that it would be hard to accept that she kept ignoring it and kept saying that she didn’t believe in it. So I thought it became a natural part of the show as we were going along.

Emma's never had much luck with men, has she? Will that change?
Well, she also has never really given men a chance, she’s been so hurt and disappointed in her past that she’s sort of steered clear. So definitely I think that now that she’s been reintroduced to her son, and she’s been reintroduced to her family she’s got to deal with the emotional repercussions of that. It’s going to open her up for the possibility to have a romance in her life because until you start to deal with those things in your own life you can't really have a healthy relationship anyway. So I think this is going to be, in sense, Emma dating in high school the way she would have, had she had a healthy life. You’re figuring our what you like and what you don’t like and what you accept and what you don’t accept, and what works and what doesn’t work and she never went through that.

Once Upon A Time returns to Channel 5 on Sunday 7 April at 9pm.

Richard is a freelancer journalist and editor, and was once a physicist. Rich is the former editor of SFX Magazine, but has since gone freelance, writing for websites and publications including GamesRadar+, SFX, Total Film, and more. He also co-hosts the podcast, Robby the Robot's Waiting, which is focused on sci-fi and fantasy.