When the 2012 Emmy award nominees were announced last week, one of the best performances of the 2011-2012 season was overlooked – that of Lana Parrilla, who plays the Evil Queen, better known to the folks of Storybrooke as “Regina Mills.” Parrilla’s performance as Regina can, at one point, seem cruel and completely… well… evil; but underneath, the heart of Regina — and she does have one — can sometimes shine through, especially in matters relating to her adopted son, Henry.
We caught up with Lana Parrilla at a roundtable interview at the 2012 Comic-Con International in San Diego, where she spoke of the Evil Queen’s past as well as what to expect from her in the future, when Season 2 premieres later this year.
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After the events of the first season finale, magic is back to Storybrooke, so the dynamic – especially involving Regina and how she might act with magic around – may change. But that isn’t her first priority. “Like we saw in the finale, she’s lost Henry, so it’s about trying to get him back in the second season, for her, and how she’s going to do that, we have yet to reveal,” she tells us. “But there’s a smirk on her face at the end, happy to see that magic is back. I’m sure she’s going to find a way to use magic to get him back at some point.”
Parrilla knew going into the role of Regina that she would not be a one-dimensional character. “I knew initially, just from the pilot, that this evil comes from a deep place,” she reveals. “I never lost that, and I had my own story that fed me throughout the season, until we got to Episode 18. Although it wasn’t far off, actually, from what you saw in the ‘Stable Boy’ episode.”
“I knew that her true love was killed. I didn’t know how or who did it, but I knew that, and I knew that even before I auditioned, somehow, which is kind of strange,” she explains. “I remember when I started shooting the pilot, we were up in Vancouver and I talked to Eddy and Adam, and I said ‘you know, I feel like her true love was killed,’ and they looked at me and went [gasp] ‘HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT!?!’ and I said ‘What do you mean?’ They said ‘that’s exactly where we’re going.’ They initially were going to tell that story in the second episode, and then they did the smart thing and waited. I was really happy that they waited, because it meant so much more, when we actually saw where her pain derives from,” Parrilla says.
Parrilla was quite excited to see Jack and the Beanstalk teased for Season 2 at the Once Comic-Con panel, adding that she would like to at the very least be on set when that episode is shot. As for stories that are currenly unplanned or unannounced, Parrilla says she would love to see The Little Mermaid’s Ursula at some point. “I absolutely love Ursula,” she tells us. “I keep asking if I can play her. I mean, if Rumple could be the Beast, why can’t the Evil Queen also be Ursula? Right? So, we’ll see,” she says.
One of the fairy tales explored in the first season of Once Upon A Time was a story involving the Mad Hatter, played by Sebastian Stan. His character and Regina had an interesting relationship. Might we see the Mad Hatter and Regina together again in Season 2? “I hope so! I really loved working with Sebastian Stan. I think he’s very talented. He does have a couple of projects coming up, so I don’t know lucky we are, and I don’t know if we’ll get to work with him as much, but hopefully we will, because he’s been a great addition to the cast, and he’s just so interesting and so mysterious. They have a lot to resolve, these two characters,” Lana says.
Being so involved with a character, actors often learn from the characters they are playing. Has Lana learned anything from playing Regina? “I’ve learned what not to do,” Parrilla laughs. “If I have children one day, I definitely don’t want to be that kind of mother. Although I will say that she loves [Henry] very deeply, and I know that she does, and that’s a choice I’ve always made from the very beginning. How she expresses her love, is another thing. I think in the second season, she’s going to work on that. I think there’s a lot of growth for Regina in the second season.”
Before we see any growth for Regina, there surely is some payback headed her way. Now that the meek Mary-Margaret remembers that she is actually the more fierce Snow White, does Parrilla think we may see a Snow-Regina confrontation? “I’m sure,” Lana says. “As we’ve seen Snow White in Fairy Tale Land, she’s a bad-@$$. I guarantee she’s going to confront Regina at some point. I think they’ll all probably try to take her down. I don’t know how successful they’ll be, but they’ll at least try,” she suggests.