“I never thought I would get to play a Disney iconic character and never saw myself playing a princess,” admits Lana Parrilla about her role on ABC’s “Once Upon a Time.” “Playing the Evil Queen has been a dream gig!”
“Once Upon a Time” tells the story of two parallel worlds — a mythical fairytale land and modern day small-town America. The residents of Storybrooke, Maine may or may not know of their alter-ago identities in the Enchanted Forest. They are trapped by the Evil Queen’s curse which sprang from her all-consuming hatred of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin).
Parrilla will be on the Emmy ballot this year in the Best Drama Supporting Actress race, the only actress from the show to be submitted in that category. She plays the dual roles of Regina Mills (mayor of Storybrooke) and the Evil Queen, who literally bursts onto the scene in the show’s first episode to interrupt the fairytale wedding of Snow White and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas).
In a video chat with Gold Derby, Parrilla talks about “The Stable Boy,” the episode from the show’s freshman season that she believes best showcases her work. That episode centers on the events that led to her character becoming so evil and features Oscar nominee Barbara Hershey as her wicked mother, who Parrilla lets slip is returning next season to flesh out her character even more.
Over the past year, films and series based on fairy tale characters have flourished. With two high profile films based on the “Snow White” tale released within a few months of each other (Tarsem Singh‘s “Mirror Mirror” debuted on March 30 and Rupert Sanders‘ “Snow White and the Huntsman” is opening on June 1), and with NBC’s similarly themed “Grimm” enjoying success on Fridays, “Once Upon a Time” could have easily been lost in the shuffle.
After many recent misfires for the fantasy genre, expectations weren’t too high when the series premiered last fall. However, where “FlashForward,” “Alcatraz” and “The Event” started strongly but burned out quickly, “Once Upon a Time” bucked this trend to become the season’s top-rated new drama series, not an easy ask on a competitive landscape like Sunday nights.
Although Parrilla has been a consistent presence on television for over a decade, this is her first hit show. “This is my seventh series, and the last show that I had that went into a second season was “Boomtown,” and that was about nine to ten years ago.” Now that ABC has renewed the series for a second season, Parrilla is thrilled, joking, “it’s almost surreal because I’m so used to them getting cancelled!”