The upcoming seventh season of ABC’s Once Upon A Time is, for all intents and purposes, a reboot: Major series regulars including Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas are no longer series regulars, and the ones who are sticking around are in quite different places. Additionally, young Henry, previously played by Jared S. Gilmore, is now all grown up and played by Andrew J. West! Several fan favorites like Colin O’Donoghue, Lana Parrilla, and Robert Carlyle are still around for the transition.
Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour today, the show’s producers explained that, coming off of the six year plan on their previous show LOST, they started thinking about an end point to the original Once Upon a Time “story” around Season 4.
“I think around Season 4 we started to realize that, you know, we wanted to start writing towards our own end point, and if the show was successful enough, or the network had interest enough to go on, that we would reboot it and creatively begin a new chapter,” Executive Producer Edward Kitsis recalled.
“We thought the show naturally had places for a lot of these stories to have an ending, but because of the nature of storytelling itself and fairy tales and what we deal with, a new chapter seemed like a great direction to kind of continue the spirit of the show,” Adam Horowitz added.
“What we’re planning to do is we have a grown-up Henry, and he has found himself in a new book with new characters, and he’s called on some of his friends, like Captain Hook and Rumpelstiltskin and, of course, his mom, the Evil Queen, to come join us,” Kistis said about what longtime fans will still have to look forward to. “We’re going to have a new curse in a new town with new characters, but we’ll still see some old faces.”
Should fans worry that, by not having Emma nor Belle in the lives of Hook or Rumple, that those characters are being denied their “happy endings?”
“I think that has also been the fear of a lot of our fans,” Kitsis answered, before promising we’ll know more soon.
“Episode 2 is going to answer what has happened with Emma and Captain Hook, and Episode 4 will answer that very question for Belle,” he said. “We are not going to be we’re not looking to get rid of any of the happy endings that we have created or set up or ended with. We’re not trying to take any away. We are moving forward, and we think we have a way to achieve both things.”
“What happened in the first six seasons of the show remains deeply rooted in the DNA [of] what’s going forward,” Horowitz added. “We are telling new stories with some of the characters from the first six seasons and with the new characters, but what came before – we were all very cognizant, as we write the show and as we perform the show, and we are always thinking of the fans. But we hope that people check it out and will see that we are thinking about that. It is an emotional thing. When people attach to characters for six years, it’s a big deal.”
“When we meet Hook at the start of this season, he is a uniformed cop in Seattle,” Colin O’Donoghue revealed about his character’s fate. “He’s different from a Hook any of the other ten different Hooks that I’ve played over the five or six seasons. He’s definitely… I describe him as he has there’s a sense of loss there in the guy, and I think that he just doesn’t know what it is that’s missing. So he’s striving in some way to find who he is still, yet try to be the Hook that we meet is trying to be the best uniformed cop that he can be and do things the right way. But as is always the case on Once Upon a Time, it’s more complicated than that,” he teased.
“And it’s fun,” Colin continued. “Look, I can only talk for me, but over the six seasons that I’ve been in, or including this, I’ve been very, very lucky to play so many different variations of this one character. That’s one thing that I’m really excited about. This next season coming that we’re shooting now is I get to explore him in a completely different way than you’ve seen and see how we can spin it. And I do have to say the episodes I think we’ve read up to Episode 4 now of this season that I’ve read, in all honesty, it’s the best that I’ve read in any season so far. I think the writers have done just an incredible job so far. In particular — I’m not going to say what happens, but one of the episodes I think it might even be one of the best episodes of any sort of show that I’ve read or seen. It’s really, really, really fantastic.”
And what’s going on with Regina?
“I don’t know her name’s Regina,” Lana Parrilla teased, “and that’s cool. I’m no longer in pantsuits. I’m in denim and rock T-shirts. When we meet her, this other version of Regina, she’s working in a bar. She’s a bar owner. She’s a little rough around the edges, not the queen that we’re used to. She has curly hair. She looks very different. She feels different. Like Colin, I also played so many different versions of this character and this one feels really different. All the other versions were evolutions of the character.”
“This one — her name’s not even Regina. And she’s no longer in charge, and we’ve always seen Regina in charge or try to be in charge, try to control, try to manipulate, try to… And then she redeemed herself. But this Regina is something else, and I’m having a blast playing her. I’m still discovering her. I think we’re all still discovering who she is. It’s refreshing. It feels different. You know, you don’t get a lot of opportunities where you get to play so many different versions of these characters, and it’s fun as an actor to be a part of something that is constantly evolving,” she enthused.
“It’s like we know the characters inside out, but we’re starting to play them for the first time again,” O’Donoghue added.
Once Upon a Time Season 7 premieres October 6 on ABC. Take a look at some new photos from Season 7 below!