At the end of the Once Upon A Time pilot, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) asks Regina (Lana Parrilla) if she truly does love her adopted son Henry (Jared Gilmore), a boy that Emma gave up for adoption ten years prior. Having been born from a fairy-tale, Emma has a magical power of her own, you see; she can always tell when someone is lying. So as she studies Regina’s face when Regina claims that yes, of course she loves her son, and then moves into Granny’s B&B, the audience gets the impression that Emma knows a truth about Regina already that perhaps Regina has yet to even admit to herself. LA TV Insider Examiner had a chance to sit down with Parrilla on the Vancouver set of Once Upon A Time earlier this month to weigh in on if Regina truly had a caring bone in her body or if her “Evil Queen ways” were shining through every moment, even in the Storybrooke world.
LA TV Insider Examiner: The most interesting characters on television are often the ones with complex dynamics, so how “bad” is Regina, really? We imagine she must at least be trying to care about others if she adopted this child in the first place.
Lana Parrilla: I think a lot of people make decisions to have, you know, children sometimes for the wrong reasons. Maybe there’s a void in their lives that they’re trying to fill, and I think Regina is doing that with Henry.
Do you think, then, that she knows who Henry really is, and she took him in to kind of control the situation?
L.P.: No, I don’t. I don’t think she knows who Henry is. I think she’s just a major control freak…It’s hard when you’re trying to navigate everything and trying to make everything go so smoothly and perfectly and then it doesn’t turn out that way.
Regina doesn’t seem to have many friends in town, and obviously neither does the Evil Queen. How does the addition of Maleficent change that?
L.P.: I think it’s going to be great! We shot this scene and [Kristen Bauer] and I had an incredible time; we got along really well. She’s very talented; she’s a very strong, powerful woman– beautiful woman– and we just go head to head. And there is a friendship between these two villains. Well, they describe them as “frenemies” [but] as actors we really got along, so it helps. It’s a really great scene, and I had a blast filming it.
Who do you think is more competition, in Regina’s eyes, for Henry’s affection: Emma or Mary Margaret?
L.P.: Oh Emma, absolutely! Emma’s a huge threat…Right now the biggest threat is Emma, for multiple reasons, you know? She can break this curse, and Regina will lose her power—but then the threat of losing her son. That’s always prominent; I always keep that in mind when I’m playing Regina.
A character with the name of “Evil Queen,” even when transformed to a real world counterpart seems to beg a lot of specific, expected behavior from the stories we all read as little kids. How is your version different?
L.P.: I think you see a more sympathetic, more vulnerable side when it comes to Henry. Even though she’s this evil queen, she has the ability to love, and even as the Evil Queen, there was a time she did love deeply.
Do you believe that Regina actually does love her son?
L.P.: I think she really loves him. She’s holding on so tight, and as one does when they’re holding on too tight, they slip through your fingers, and that’s what Henry does; he slips through her fingers…The love is present, and that will help the audience relate to her more on a human level.
Can the Evil Queen be seen as redeemable, too? With “Evil” in the title, we have always been taught no…
L.P.: I think they’ll relate to her, like I said, when you see where this hatred derives from. You know, what she’s gone through and what she’s lost. That will help people relate to her more. And then she’s just fun, too, you know?. She’s big; she’s bold; she’s so out there, and she’s not afraid to say what she feels. And there’s something quite refreshing about that, you know, when someone can be that expressive and not give a shit. I like that about her. I like playing her. And the costumes are phenomenal!
And Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold has been called the “big bad,” in a way perhaps even more of a threat to the fairy-tale characters’ happy endings than the Evil Queen/Regina. But who would you say is the biggest threat to her?
L.P.: For some reason, I think– it’s so weird, we haven’t even seen that, but just when you asked that question, I saw Henry’s face because he represents truth, you know? Emma represents hope, but he really is the truth in that world, and Regina has not quite, you know, utilized that resource yet! But I’m sure somewhere in her she knows that he is that voice.
Once Upon A Time airs on ABC on Sunday nights at 8pm.
Want more Once Upon A Time news and interviews? Follow LA TV Insider Examiner on Twitter!