"I never thought I would get to play a Disney iconic character and never saw myself playing a princess," smiles Lana Parrilla on playing the Evil Queen 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; the mythical fairytale setting of the Enchanted Forest and the modern day setting of small-town America. The residents of Storybrooke, Maine may or may not know of their alter-ago identities in the Enchanted Forest and are trapped by the Evil Queen's curse, which was borne out of the Queen's all-consuming hatred of her nemesis 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, in the dual roles of Regina Mills (the mayor of Storybrooke) and the Evil Queen herself, 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 Evil Queen becoming so evil and it features Oscar nominee Barbara Hershey as the Evil Queen's 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 seemingly exploded. With two high profile films based on the "Snow White" tale released within a few months of each other (Tarsem Singh's "Mirror Mirror" was released 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, a show like "Once Upon a Time" could have easily been lost in the shuffle.
And with the many recent misfires for the fantasy genre on television of late, expectations weren't too high when the series premiered last fall. However, where other recent series like "FlashForward," "Alcatraz" and "The Event" started strongly but burned out quickly, "Once Upon a Time" bucked this trend, premiering with over 13 million viewers to become the season's top-rated new drama series, not an easy ask on a competitive landscape like Sunday nights.
Although Parrilla, like many working actors, has been a consistent presence on television for over a decade, this is her first hit series. "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 that, "it's almost surreal because I'm so used to them getting cancelled!"