Actress Lana Parrilla. Photo Credit: Anthony Santiago.

Actress Lana Parrilla. Photo Credit: Anthony Santiago.

Once Upon A Time, to the joy of many fans, is back for the second half of season 4 this coming Sunday after a two and a half month long hiatus, and with it comes the return of the enchanting and radiant Lana Parrilla, or as the characters of Storybrooke, ME have come to know her: Regina Mills (aka the Evil Queen). When the fantasy drama series last left off, Regina was seen crumpling a page of her and Robin Hood from the magical storybook in utter anguish after watching him cross the town line with his family. But according to Parrilla, all is not lost for Regina, who is still adjusting to her newly crowned status as a hero, as this unexpected turn of events will only add fuel to the fire in the quest for finding the author with Emma and Henry, and in finally getting the happy ending that she so desperately craves and deserves.

Of course, this being Storybrooke, a place where curses and evil run rampant and free, it should come as no surprise that there will be struggles along the way — and not just for Regina, but for all of the characters in Storybrooke as well, as a new villain, or rather a trio of villainesses, make their presence known (or so it would appear from the most recent promo which questions if Emma Swan can be lured to the dark side).

Despite a very busy schedule and an unexpected case of the hiccups, the amiable Parrilla, who has also starred in Miami Medical, Windfall, 24 and Boomtown, took some time to speak with GALO about being a stepmother, the exquisite costumes and women on set, and to tease the highly anticipated second half of Once Upon A Time’s Season 4, including the mischievous Queens of Darkness.

GALO: First of all, let me just start off by saying that I absolutely love your character on Once Upon A Time. There are so many layers to her, and you do a remarkable job at peeling them apart and letting the viewer see inside her mind and soul.

Lana Parrilla: Thank you so much.

GALO: The mid-season finale was definitely a tear-jerker for many Regina fans, especially when she crumpled up that page. It felt like she was giving up in that moment on her happy ending. Can you tell us if her search for the author with Henry (and Emma) will still continue now that Robin Hood is gone?

LP: Yes, they will continue on this search for the author, and that slowly becomes Regina’s focus. She hasn’t completely given up. I think she just feels doomed. It feels like no matter what she does, you know, in terms of like her life decisions and choices, she’s still doomed by this fate and story that this author has written for her. And so, it feels like she’s lost some hope in regards to Robin Hood. But the only way to get that back, and the only way to get him back, is to rewrite her story. So she’s hopeful that she will meet this author, find him, and sort of make him, not force him, to write her this happy ending.

GALO: So there’s a chance that their paths will cross again?

LP: [Laughs] How do I answer this without giving anything away… [More laughter] I think their paths will cross again.

GALO: As mentioned, that scene with Robin Hood being forced to choose his family was very emotional. What was the experience like for you to shoot that scene, and where did you draw inspiration from to capture that tragic heartbreak and pain that comes from having to let a loved one go?

LP: It felt — I mean, it’s a sad story. But what we saw in that moment was Regina’s goodness and her strength in making a decision that was very, very difficult for her, but it was really to save someone else’s life. And those are actions and behaviors of a hero, and we’ve seen Regina sort of graduate to this place over the years — and as difficult as the decision was made, she knows deep down inside it was the right thing to do.

It was hard to film that scene. It was hard but there was also a certain type of strength in her that we witnessed — that she sort of has come to this resolve of, you know, this is the right thing. She has to kind of put herself in second place when it comes to this sort of life and death situation, and in the past Regina would’ve probably chosen death. You know, there’s probably an easier way to get rid of Marian [laughs], but with this new sort of evolved, matured Regina, she makes the selfless decision. And I think that at the end of the day, Robin Hood is someone she loves and she wants to earn his respect and be that sort of good-loving person in his eyes, and so it was the only decision for her to make. The only decision for her to make was to send them off into a world without magic to heal Marian. I think it was a very heroic moment for her.

GALO: I agree. Was it hard for you emotionally to do that scene?

LP: No, it wasn’t too difficult emotionally. I think that there have been a lot of other emotional moments that we’ve seen with Regina over the years, and it’s been so great to play these sorts of complex, multilayered levels of emotion that it wasn’t difficult for me to do that scene. It is just a sad story to tell, but it wasn’t very challenging on an emotional level.

GALO: So, it seems that Storybrooke just can’t catch a break — if it’s not a curse, it is a family crazed Snow Queen. When Once Upon A Time left off, we found out that once you leave, there’s no coming back, at least for now. How is this going to affect the lives of the residents of Storybrooke, especially with Rumple/Mr. Gold being gone?

LP: Oh yes, absolutely. I mean it’s a big shift in everyone’s life. Henry is losing his grandfather. Regina is losing a friend in Mr. Gold, even though they’re kind of frenemies, but they actually have a very interesting dynamic. I think when you see that moment in the car with her and Mr. Gold, there’s sadness in her eyes, but there’s also sadness for him because he hasn’t — she’s not so much aware that he left for other reasons. She thought that he was leaving with Belle and that they were going to drive off into the sunset, but that’s not necessarily how it works out. But I think in the moment with Mr. Gold, she’s going to miss him being around to some degree. And with Robin Hood [being gone as well], I think she’s once again heartbroken for losing the love of her life.