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Interview: Lana Parrilla – ‘Once Upon a Time”s Evil Queen

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Once again on this season’s Once Upon a Time, the world changes for Regina (the terrific Lana Parrilla). It almost seems a misnomer these days to refer to her as “the Evil Queen,” so far has she come, even to the point of saving her romantic (and much deeper) rival because “it was the right thing to do!”

Lana Parrilla at Comic-Con with Blogcritics

Lana Parrilla at 2015 SDCC

“I’ve always looked at this woman,” noted Lana during a brief interview at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, “as this iconic evil queen.” And now, with Emma becoming the Dark One, she’s been recast as the “savior.” But no matter what aspect of Regina come out, “I think that she’ll always be grounded in being a human being,” she added.

“The challenge this season is learning how to be a hero, being a savior, being there for others. That’s not really who she is,” Lana explained.  “So that’s going to be her real challenge, but it’s always going to be based in being a real human being.”

“Before she was this manipulative mayor, and now she’s the savior. It’s fun for us actors to play different roles all the time. I love that we get to swap our roles and try different things. It keeps us interested as actors, and keeps the audience more intrigued. We trust Adam and Eddy. They know what they’re doing.”

Does she long for the Evil Queen? (Who wouldn’t?) Lana said, “I do hope we have flashbacks to the Evil Queen because I love playing her. We’ve seen so many different sides to her over the seasons. Young Regina, Evil queen, the mayor, redeemed-by-love-Regina. It just goes on and on… There’s a lot of room for different archetypes. I’d say she’s on a hero’s journey (referring to Joseph Campbell’s seminal writing on heroes and their many faces).”

Certainly, the old, evil-queen Regina would never have let Zelena live, having duped poor Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) in marriage and having her baby!

“I think Regina already regrets not killing Zelena,” Lana reflected. “But there’s already been so many rewards when she’s done the right thing… Deep down inside, she knows it was the right thing to do. So it’s all going to come with challenges going forward, but I don’t think she feels threatened by Zelena at all.”

How does Lana feel about Emma becoming the Dark Swan? “Regina really hates the fact that Emma has done this because now Regina has to do something about it. I think she really hates owing someone. It’s become a burden, and something she had to do something about, but if anyone can relate to where Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is in this new incarnation, it’s Regina. She’s been there.”

She and Henry will probably start “‘operation Emma’ and try to help her together,” the actress said of her relationship with son Henry. I think the whole town is going to band together. And that’s going to be really interesting with Regina in this new leader role.”

Once Upon a Time returns to ABC this fall with new episodes.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her debut novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse comes out October 11 from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Meredith

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t think she’s as close to being redeemed as she’d like to pretend. For one thing, she’s never returned all those hearts from her vault. All she’d have to do is summon them to come to the vault and then return them one by one. The problem is that she probable erased their memories of the fact that she has their hearts, just like Belle. If she were to return them, they’d then remember all the cruel things she’s made them do whether in Storybrooke or in the enchanted forest. On top of that, Regina still treats Belle as though she doesn’t matter. Did anyone notice that she didn’t bother to apologize to Belle in 4×20 “Mother,” after she got back to town? The only time she says “I’m sorry,” is when she’s seeking help. On top of, why did she have to erase Belle’s memory once she had her heart? It’s because she didn’t tell anyone the truth of what she was doing. We saw how Snow reacted when Regina ripped out the heart of a lost boy. There’s no way she or Charming would let their favorite babysitter be attacked like that. And Hook, having his heart be saved by Belle, wouldn’t have gone along with it either. If Regina tries either to erase Belle’s memory again, or threatens to kill her if she tells Robin and makes her look bad in Season Five, we’ll know she hasn’t changed On top of that, how cruel was Regina to have Belle walk home for maybe 20 minutes, crying the whole way, knowing that the moment she gets to the shop and removes her coat, that she’ll forget that her life is in danger?! It’s like being drugged by a seriel rapist, knowing that a second you’re unconscience that you’ll be violated. If Regina had poofed them back to the shop after talking to Rumple and then immediately erased the memry, it would have at least shown concern for Belle’s trauma. But she didn’t care. And what would Regina have told everyone had Belle accidentally been killed in this scheme? You think she would have confessed? No, she would have claimed that Rumple stole her heart while the town was asleep in 4×16 “Best Laid Plans,” to punish her for her infidelity and banishment. Regina is not redeeemed. She’s better than she was, but until she shows actual concern for Belle’s wellfare, it’s obvious that Regina still feels free to be the evil queen with certain people.