Lana Parrilla (‘Once Upon a Time’) is ‘very happy to be coming back’ in Season 7 to play Regina & Evil Queen [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]

“I’m very happy to be coming back,” says Lana Parrilla about returning for “Once Upon a Time” Season 7 amidst the announcement that many of the show’s original stars are departing ABC’s long-running drama. Parrilla has played Regina Mills and the Evil Queen for six seasons now, and as she tells Gold Derby in our exclusive video interview above, “She is by far the most complicated character I’ve ever had to portray. I love that I never know what she’s going to do next. I love that she’s constantly searching to be a better human being, for herself and others.”

“She’s constantly evolving and I can’t wait to see her get her happy ending,” continues Parrilla about Regina. “I’m looking forward to that, and I’m hoping in Season 7 we’re gonna get a taste of Regina’s happiness and hopefully sustain it for some time.” Parrilla reminds us that at one point Regina said being at peace with herself was her happy ending, and that now, “I feel like she’s reached that place.”

As for the six cast members that are departing the show — Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Jared Gilmore, Emilie de Ravin and Rebecca Mader — Parrilla admits, “We’ve been a family over the years and ‘Once Upon a Time’ is all of us. It’s what I’m used to, it’s what I know. We have developed strong relationships. I am really going to miss working alongside all those people moving forward.”

Looking ahead to the future of “Once Upon a Time,” Parrilla says, “I am excited to see what the next chapter is for Regina and who this new Henry is. If he’s older, does that mean I’m aging? I don’t know!” In the Season 6 finale, a new mystery character portrayed by Andrew J. West was revealed to be an adult version of Henry, suggesting the show is about to time-jump to the future.

Also in our interview, Parrilla chats about working on “Swingtown” and “Lost,” how watching Tatiana Maslany on “Orphan Black” helped her play the scenes between Regina and the Evil Queen, and what it was like singing “Love Doesn’t Stand a Chance” from the musical episode. She concludes by praising her hard-working crew of the past six years, noting, “It takes a lot of magic and everyone brings it.”

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