“We haven’t redefined her; we’re just fleshing her out a lot,” Ginnifer Goodwin said, a twinkle in her eyes, when LA TV Insider Examiner sat down with her to discuss her iconic role as Snow White in ABC’s Once Upon A Time.
Through the Disney fairy-tale we, and inevitably you, grew up with painted one very specific portrait of the princess, it was limited to space and time, and over the course of this television season, we will get to see her as a more fully formed woman. A woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and who knows what needs to be done to save the good of her land. She’s a little more active than we’ve seen her before, but perhaps more importantly, her relationships with her fellow fairy-tale characters are much more complex.
“Once we got into things and started exploring what her backstory might be, it occurred to me as I was inspired by many of the things that I was reading that maybe Snow White was suffering from many of the flaws and inefficiencies that her stepmother suffers from. Maybe she really is vain; maybe she really is prideful; maybe she really was competing for the attention of her father, which could have been a little bit inappropriate. And those things are all justifiable in the story. And I started thinking about things, and she’s a princess, and there would be a sense of entitlement that comes with that and a lack of social experience,” Goodwin explained.
Goodwin believes Snow White is not a “girl’s girl” in this telling of the tale, despite having Cinderella (Jessy Schram) has a friend. It makes sense; after all, we saw her bond with the Seven Dwarfs (all male), but never any other princesses. A great part of Once Upon A Time is the tension between the women of the land; they all have the potential and the power to rule, if they choose to tap into it, and that may put them at odds with each other, past “just” competing for someone’s affection. In the fairy-tale world of Once Upon A Time, Snow White and the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) are at odds as we always knew they would be, but so are their Storybrooke counterparts, Mary Margaret and Regina.
“I think the dynamic between Regina and Mary Margaret– it’s really fun and challenging and interesting to me from the outside because we created Mary Margaret based on an amalgamation of characterizations we thought the Evil Queen would want Mary Margaret to have, and so that relationship was really based on Mary Margaret’s fear of Regina,” Goodwin offered. “And you know, there are times because of this influence that Mary Margaret finds the urge to stand up to Regina, but she’s still not at a point where she can follow through. She’s just not strong enough.”
Mary Margaret is the one who gives Henry (Jared Gilmore) the book that ultimately teaches him the truth about who everyone in town is, after all. Though Mary Margaret doesn’t do it on purpose– Goodwin shared that she has had the book in her “implanted, cursed memories since childhood”– the action is still enough to make her a target.
Still, in Storybrooke, Mary Margaret appears a woman almost desperate to make a connection, almost not fully realizing the extent of her loneliness. Giving her young student the book is one way she attempts to make a connection, but also the entrance of Emma (Jennifer Morrison) will be another. Emma may become Mary Margaret’s first real female friend. But the loneliness will bleed through into other areas, abounding, even after she and Emma have begun to bond in close quarters and of their own accord.
It is because she is missing her other half; Prince Charming has been stripped from her in this modern day “real” world. We all know they got married at the end of the Disney fairy-tale, and we see that milestone already in the pilot of Once Upon A Time, as well. But because the fairy-tale characters get cursed to be stuck in time in Storybrooke, Maine, we cannot move forward with them; their happily ever after was stricken down. They do not know each other at all in Storybrooke, though Goodwin promised we would not be completely romance-free for their story. Instead, we will travel back in time with their fairy-tale counterparts to learn about the origins of their stories, their relationships, and their love.
“Some of my favorite scenes…for me to act in are the scenes between Snow White and Prince Charming because the relationship is so complicated, and we will find on the show, it is based in the beginning on real animosity and manipulation and selfishness. And I really love that that is our foundation– that is our platform– it gives us so far to go!” Goodwin teased.
Once Upon A Time airs on ABC on Sunday nights at 8pm.
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