If you're caught up on this second half of Once Upon A Time Season 4, you know that Maleficent has returned to stir up trouble for our Storybrooke residents.
But she's not alone this time, as she's part of a threesome that includes Ursula (Merrin Dungey) and Cruella (Victoria Smurfit).
With her schedule cleared up following the end of True Blood, Kristin Bauer won't be going anywhere any time soon - and I had the chance to speak with the actress about returning to OUAT... how much more we'll find out about her character... and what Maleficent's true motivations may actually be.
Let's see what she had to say before we dive into this Sunday's Once Upon A Time Season 4 Episode 15...
TV Fanatic: How has it been to get back in to Maleficent’s shoes and that amazing outfit? You tend to take on these bigger-than-life roles, don’t you?
Kristin Bauer: I know these characters I get to play are so amazing so by the time you go through the hair, makeup and wardrobe, half of the work is done for you. I just feel so lucky. I don’t know what the type casting is but I couldn’t be more thrilled.
TVF: There’s so much backstory this time around. How is that for you to learn a lot more about her world and history?
KB: Oh man, I just love the backstory. I always love that because as an actor you’re asking yourself all the questions that you should about how you should play this character and to what level is she on a scale one to 10 of darkness, is she just an 11. Is there any softness in her? What are the colors that I should bring because I want to make them multi-layered?
I find an evil character is more interesting and more scary, actually, if there is some humanity so that you might let down your guard, you might feel comfortable, you might actually like this person, and they can in one second turn around and kill you with no remorse. And one of the reasons I wanted to come back and do the show was because I remembered how pleasant it was on the set playing with Lana Parrilla. She’s just a master, and knows her character and has so much fun and she has the best, biggest laugh in the world.
TVF: Do you think the viewer will have his or her impression of Maleficent change in the course of these episodes just because we will see more layers to her?
KB: Yeah, I think our perception of Maleficent will change. I know mine did and it just grew. I feel like I got to peel the onion of that, so I don’t feel there’s information that confuses us. There’s so much information that will come from these flashbacks.
TVF: Talk about her relationship with Ursula and Cruella because what I’ve seen, it seems like Maleficent is kind of the ringleader, but I don’t know if that continues or of that’s how you see it.
KB: Yeah, don’t tell the other two, but I definitely am the ringleader. When you interview them, they’ll say, “Oh, I was the ring leader.” [laughs] I think that’s how we had to look at it and they’re so much fun as actresses. These women are truly awesome and these characters, these bigger than life characters, thrown in a room together and this incredible dialog...oh man, did we have a good time!
And luckily for me, Merrin and Vic are the opposite of Ursula and Cruella and these women - and Lana - they all just have your back and it’s amazing to see on a stage playing women who have nobody’s back but the actual actresses are in your corner, cheering for you. So we could be safe and play because very often you’re in a green fish bowl, you know, because we shoot this on a green screen.
So, it really is a petri dish, where you’d sit there and just explore the characters and if you don’t feel safe, it would be very hard and Lana welcomed us with open arms, which is really nice because we’re the kids at the new school.
TVF: What would you say Maleficent wants, at least in these episodes?
KB: She’s definitely fueled by revenge and pain at the beginning, and we find out more about that through the season. Revenge is often a common motivator for heroes and villains. You know, we see Superman, Spiderman, Batman, blah, blah, blah…revenge is very clear motivator for Maleficent at the beginning.
TVF: There’s a lot of talk in these episodes about the villains getting their happy endings. Do you think Maleficent wants a happy ending?
KB: I think she wants what she wants, and I think to her, that’s her happy ending. So, they’re all actually looking for what will make them feel good and that’s, from your and my perspective, doesn’t look like a happy ending, but that’s what it is for her.
TVF: I’ve probably asked you this about Pam on True Blood but is it a challenge for you to not go too far as for campiness or is there no too far in this kind of show or in this kind of role?
KB: Oh man, is that the question I ask every single day, every single scene, and I am looking to Lana and Bobby [Carlysle] like, ‘okay. You guys know this world. I’m kind of new here’ so, I trusted them. I checked in with them. The directors, the producers, the writers. They all have my back and I realized as I think I got more comfortable and settled into Maleficent, I realized that there’s such a scaffold of support that one doesn’t have to overly work to sell these characters.
We have these amazing sets whether its green [screen] and it will be put in later or we’re actually in one of the really cool sets that they’ve built. You’ve got this unbelievable costume, hair and makeup. I’m with these other actors who are so proficient and live and breathe these characters now. We’ve got the writing and the producers write, right there, at arm’s length if you have a question. So, I started to relax into less effort pretty quickly, and the amazing thing about all of those people that I just mentioned is, there was such a feeling of support. This doesn’t always happen. We had in True Blood and you have it here.
TVF: If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of good-looking guys on this show. Does Maleficent set her sights on anybody?
KB: I think she really is too focused on her wants and needs for romance. I’m not even totally sure what her type would be. I mean, is it human? I mean she’s half dragon.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 9/8c on ABC.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.