Lana Parrilla Talks the Queens of Darkness and Playing a Heartbroken Regina on ‘Once Upon A Time’
GALO: When Once returns, we’re going to be introduced to the Queens of Darkness. Regina has a past with Maleficent. In fact, one could say they were friends for some time. Will we be seeing more scenes with the two of them, and is there anything you can tell us about the actresses that play Ursula and Cruella de Vil?
LP: So, you’ll see a backstory with Maleficent and Regina and how they met — that’s episode 14. It’s a really great episode; it kind of lends itself to the second episode of the entire series when she says, “You’re my only friend.” And you actually see in episode 14 how they become friends. Working with Kristin Bauer, I noticed that you just did an interview with her…
GALO: Yes, actually, when we last spoke to Kristin Bauer, she could not stop praising her time spent working with you on set. She said that working with you was “just heaven” and that you’re “the most passionate, fun and giving actress” that she has ever met.
LP: She’s just wonderful! I just adore her. She’s such a generous, loving spirit, who really cares about humanity and the craft — and that’s something that we both share. We really love the work that we do, and the stories that we get to tell and the characters that we get to play. I just love Kristin Bauer, she’s phenomenal. And Victoria Smurfit (Cruella de Vil) and Merrin Dungey (Ursula), they’re tons of fun — they’re so wonderful, challenging and funny, and they’ve brought a really great, positive energy to the set. It’s been great working with them. And you will see all of the four villains — well, Regina being half villain, half hero [laughs] — you know, you’ll see all of us interacting, and there are a lot of scenes with all of us coming up in the second half of this season.
GALO: That definitely sounds exciting!
LP: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. I can’t tell you how they all link up, but it is going to be a fun little journey for the audience.
GALO: The costumes and clothes on the show are absolutely amazing, yours included. Has there ever been a moment where you’ve been slightly jealous of someone’s wardrobe (or a particular clothing item) on the show?
LP: I would say that I’m quite jealous of Cruella’s faux fur [laughs]. I’m a little envious of her in the moments when we’re in the middle of the forest and its freezing, and she has this huge monster coat on that all of us kind of want to crawl inside of it [laughter]. Her costumes are phenomenal. I’m not jealous at all, just admiring how everything comes together on this show with regards to costumes — I absolutely love her outfits [Cruella’s].
There was one outfit when I walked into the wardrobe department for a fitting, a dress that was for Maleficent, and I actually thought it was mine. And I said, “Oh, do I get to play the Evil Queen again? I’m so excited!” And they said, “No, that’s Maleficent’s.” And I thought, ‘oh, bummer! Wow, she’s going to look amazing!’ [Laughter] But again, I’m not jealous — there’s a love for fashion, the artistry behind it, and so when I see these women walking on set looking fabulous, I celebrate that. I think it’s great and it makes them feel good, plus it helps their performance and it really supports the character. I love it — you know, everyone’s looking great and beautiful! Every time the four of us work together, there are a lot of compliments flying around, which is really nice to experience — we support one another, have each other’s back, and that’s something I’ve been fortunate to experience with these women.
GALO: You are quite lucky as you don’t get to play just one character on the show but rather two, which really gives you a chance to stretch your acting skills. I’m curious, though, what type of character would you like to play that you still haven’t had the chance to? It doesn’t necessarily have to be on Once.
LP: Well, let me think, there’s so many different versions of Regina. It’s funny because I got to play Ursula, which is interesting given that now we have the real Ursula with us. No, I mean, I can’t think of anyone else, like any other female villains that I would like to play. I am very happy and content with the roles that I’ve been given. You know, there are several different versions of my character. It’s been quite fulfilling creatively. If they throw anyone my way, I’ll take it on as well and would be happy to do so — and I’ll fill those shoes to the best of my ability [chuckles].
GALO: So this is a bit of a random question but if you were to pick a theme song for Regina’s life, what would it be and why? How about for yourself?
LP: There was that Imagine Dragon’s song, “Demons,” that I said was a Regina song. I tweeted that a long, long time ago, this was about a year or so ago. I think that’s a good song for her. I also listen to Hot As Sun’s “Mother I’m Alive” — that was another Regina song. In fact, I have a Regina playlist [chuckles]. I do, I have like a young Regina playlist and I have another adult Regina playlist for the Evil Queen, though some of the songs that are on that one are really dark and really not appropriate anymore.
GALO: With all this talk about the show, I was wondering what series you are watching in your free time?
LP: I really enjoy watching Game of Thrones, and Breaking Bad has been a lot of fun to watch. I also love American Horror Story, just because I love that whole genre, I think it really speaks to me. [Laughs] I love horror. I like thrillers. I like to be scared. So, American Horror Story is one of my favorites, and Jessica Lange is really one of my favorite actresses of all-time, so I really enjoy watching her work.
GALO: I read that you’re quite close to Jared Gilmore who plays your son on the show. He even considers you an honorary family member. Did your experience with him on the show and off the set help you in any way in taking on the role of stepmother in your personal life? And how have you been enjoying this new chapter in your life?
LP: Oh, I love it! Thank you for asking. I love my family and being a stepmom — it’s challenging and rewarding on so many different levels. In fact, it’s been interesting. I’ve always been really good with kids, always loved children. So, it came very natural for me to care for these kids and love them as if they were my own. And, in fact, they have helped me more with Regina and not the other way around. So, it’s not my relationship with Jared or Regina’s relationship with Henry that has actually helped me be a great stepmother — again, it’s been the other way around. My three children have actually helped me be a better actress in playing the stepmother.
GALO: Finally, is there anything else you’re currently working on that we might not know about, or that you’d like our readers to know?
LP: I’m working on a few projects, but I can’t tell you the details really just yet. What I can say is that one is a reality show and we also have a scripted project that’s being written right now — we’re creating, meaning my company and I, some fun projects to have lined up for the future. But there’s nothing that I can really talk about at this moment, unfortunately [laughs].
GALO: Well, thank you for the interview, Lana. It has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you. We wish you ongoing success with the show and with those future projects. We can’t wait to learn more about them when the time comes!
LP: Thank you so much!
Who are you most excited to see when “Once Upon A Time” returns? And what do you hope awaits Regina in the second half of this season — do you think she will get her happy ending with Robin Hood? Leave us your thoughts and comments below! Catch Lana Parrilla on ABC’s Once Upon A Time when it returns this Sunday at 8/7c.