Once Upon a Time Q&A: Lana Parrilla on Outlaw Queen, Having a Ball & More

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Is it really possible we’re going to actually have some fun on Once Upon a Time Season 5?

Yes, we have Emma trying to fight off the darkness with the help of her family and friends ... but, to hear star Lana Parrilla tell it, some lighter moments are also on once our gang gets inside Camelot.

In talking with the actress yesterday about what we’ll see on Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 2, she explained that Camelot will be a “mixed bag” for everyone; that goes from the hunt for Merlin (who they believe can stop Emma’s darkness) to Regina attending her first Ball.

And what kind of threat will Zelena pose for her happiness with Robin Hood since she is carrying Robin’s baby and is more than a little crazy?

Let’s see what Parrilla had to say about Regina’s journey this season and what we’re going to see...

Robin Hood and Regina on Once Upon A Time Season 5 Episode 2

TV Fanatic: Do you have any kind of ritual at the start of the season for how you approach that season’s story for Regina?

Lana Parrilla: It really depends on where Regina is and where she left off in the previous season. Thankfully, our writers have a very clear trajectory for our characters so it’s been an easy transition but normally what I do is I kind of ‘check in.’ I check in and center myself and go ‘Okay, how do we want to start the season? What is her journey? And which archetype have we not yet explored?’ Of course, that stays on point with story and her arc.

Last season what we saw was Regina slowly becoming a hero and that seems to be consistent this season so I’m really exploring the hero’s journey and her journey not just as a hero but as a healer. She’s been through so much, confronted so many of her own demons and she’s come out on top which means that there’s been a lot of internal healing with the help of others. But her own commitment to self and her desire to be a better person and to change is very admirable and very inspiring. That’s why I see her not only as a hero but as a healer. She has the opportunity to help others.

TVF: And Emma needs her help right now but since Regina has had her own time on the dark side of things, can that help her help Emma or could Regina get pulled back to where she used to be?

LP: The good thing is that Emma is outnumbered. There are a lot more good people around her than there are bad people and/or evil or dark characters. That’s really helpful for Regina because all it takes is to have one person to believe in you and that’s how Regina ended up on this path to begin with is Emma believed in her. Emma believed that she could be good and make the right choices and do the right thing and have her happy ending.

Because Emma believed that in her, Regina feels the brunt of the responsibility to save Emma. Having the experience, the darkness, the contagion of the darkness, the joy and the magic in dark magic, Regina understands what that’s like and what Emma’s internal struggle is. So having that knowledge, she’s going to help her resist the temptation as much as she possibly can but ultimately it’s up to Emma. You’re going to see quite a bit of episodes of the two of them having very similar conversations about that topic specifically.

TVF: How was it been working with Jennifer this season since she’s playing a different side o Emma than we’ve ever seen before.

LP: It’s been great! It’s nice to see Jen explore this side of Emma because she was born with darkness so it’s been really fun for me to see Jen’s journey and how she’s chosen to go about all this with her research and what she brings to the table.

People say it’s a role reversal but it isn’t. Regina’s never been The Dark One. In fact, the role reversal would be more with Jen and Bobby [Carlyle]. When I look at it that way, Regina’s never been afraid of Rumple or Mr. Gold. She’s never feared him so therefore she won’t fear Emma. Even less so because she knows Emma is somewhere in there.

The way Regina deals with her is like she’s dealing with a person who is bi-polar. There’s Emma and then there’s The Dark One and sometimes The Dark One is so overpowering so when Regina is dealing with that sort of entity – because I look at it as some kind of possession – there’s a firmer, more ruthless direct approach.

You’ll in this coming episode on Sunday Regina is looking and searching for the Emma that she knows. Her friend is in there somewhere. I don’t know if that’s been Jen’s choices in playing this character and if she’s made these choices for herself but these are the choices that I’ve made to help in how I deal with and respond and act opposite of Jen as The Dark One or Emma.

TVF: I don’t know what Camelot is going to be like yet but will it end up being a good thing for everybody or more of a mixed bag?

LP: It’s kind of a mixed bag. We’re in Camelot and we’re there for a very specific purpose. We don’t plan on staying very long. We want to get in and get out. We want to get there, help Emma and we want to go. That’s really our goal. But, because we’re Once Upon A Time, there are a lot of things that are going to trip us up and we’re going to have to deal with a lot of surprising issues, danger, characters and there are always roadblocks, I find, when we go on those journeys so we’ll experience a lot of that.

But we’ll also experience the fun side of Camelot. Apparently, Camelot has a lot of Balls so we’re going to see Regina attend her very first ball. She’s been to one but she’s never really participated. She’s never been invited to the dance floor and that is a shock to all who knew her in Fairy Tale Land. Being a ‘princess and Queen,’ she’s never really dived into that world.

I always saw Regina as a tomboy when she was younger and she was a rebel but she was really following her heart and it was love that kind of pulled her out of that social/elite world. She wanted to marry the stable boy. She was happy being a minimalist and then her destiny or fate took her in a different direction but she’s never really participated in that sort of festivity and that party-like world that takes place in these realms. So we’re going to see her experience that for the first time and what that’s like for her.

TVF: Safe to say that for the Ball that Eduardo [Castro, Costume Designer] has an amazing gown for you to wear?

LP: Yes, he does. It’s very unlike Regina in every way. [laughs] It’s kind of like what Regina would think her mother would want her in. It’s just how Regina understands these things. You’ll see, there’s a funny moment when Regina actually changes when she changes into these ball gowns. She actually transforms into one costume and then they’re like, ‘No’ but this is what Regina would want to wear and then she’s like, ‘Okay, fine.’ Then she transforms into this more princess-like gown and I find Regina always thinks ‘Okay, what would my mother want me to wear? I’m always off. I never get it right so what would my mother want me to wear.’

TVF: At the start of the season, the relationship with Robin Hood seems pretty solid but what will we see since Zelena is also still in the picture?

LP: [Rebecca Mader is] so great. I love her. She’s so fun. She’s so Zelena. This role was made for her. There’s a lot of confusion around the three of them. This is not a love triangle. Robin is not necessarily torn like ‘does he want to be with Zelena? Does he want to be with Regina?’ He wants to be with Regina and they do have a solid relationship. It’s just complicated because now Zelena is pregnant and I think the way they’re handling it is extremely mature. Probably better than I would ever handle it! [laughs] [Regina] somehow has this sort of trust, faith and belief in her relationship with Robin that they together can overcome any obstacle.

And Zelena is demented. She is not mentally stable. Regina looks at this as ‘you are not mentally stable to be a mother or parent. However, obviously this is your child. I will not take the child fully away from you but you are going to be under extreme restrictions. You’ll be able to see the child but only when supervised.’ She doesn’t want to take the baby away from Robin. Robin has this purity that is so attractive to Regina and she loves what a great father he is and she knows he’s going to be a great father to this baby so she supports that but she just has to monitor the situation and make sure everyone is safe.

TVF: Would you say there are any more sisterly feelings between Regina and Zelena or is that non-existent after all that has happened?

LP: That’s a good question because I actually just said a line the other day where I talked to Eddy [Kitsis, Exec Producer] about it. I said, ‘Tell me what you think this line means. I know what I think it means but I need to hear it from you.’ You could play it two ways. One is this is my family and this is my sister and I want to help her or no one is going to deal with Zelena but me.

Ultimately, I think, as much as Regina would love to have a blood relative in her life and a sister, she also knows that this sister will not stop until she dies in destroying Regina’s happiness. She will not stop until the day she dies so that in itself makes it a very unsafe relationship for Regina but deep down inside I think she wishes she could have a healthy, loving relationship with her sister. And I think she wants that for Zelena. She’s been where Zelena is at and she’s been that character who has destroyed happiness, torn hearts out and has probably done more evil doings than anyone on the show if you think about it From the villages she’s slaughtered to the thousands of hearts she’s ripped out. The fact that she’s been able to come out of that and become a hero is super admirable but I don’t know that Zelena is a redeemable character. 

Once Upon a Time Season 5 airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Once Upon a Time Season 5 Episode 2 Quotes

If you're dumb enough to cross the line, be my guest.


Snow Queen, Pan, Trio of Terror. We can handle villains like that but Emma. She knows how we beat bad guys. Heck, she beat most of them for us.