Those of you who follow Once Upon a Time know that Lana Parrilla is a devastating force in both of the show's realities, playing both the glamorous Evil Queen and the ruthless mayor of Storybrooke, Regina Mills. Being kind of a fangirl myself, I really couldn’t believe my luck when I got to chat with her about this Sunday's new episode, “Desperate Souls” -- not to mention Regina’s mysterious ring and her real feelings for Graham. Here's what Parrilla had to say.
You Tweeted at one point that you choose to wear a ring and that it's an unscripted character choice. I know the showrunners hold their cards close to the chest, so have you created your own personal backstory for Regina?
Lana Parrilla: On some level I have, but the choice in the ring came from my own research. It had more to do with the emerald, which is linked to Lucifer. It was just kind of my way of tapping into the dark side for this character, and I wanted to have some link into the fairytale land with Regina, just as a choice. So I ended up finding a gem that came close to looking like an emerald and wore it in Storybrooke. We talk about actors having secrets, so it was my little secret. No one even really knew about it until I got the prop cleared, and I told them why, and they said “Okay, it’s fine, it’s great.” And then people started focusing on it, like “She’s wearing this ring and it's green, it's very similar to the one Snow White ends up wearing, the one that Prince Charming is giving Snow White.” And Ginny [Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays Snow White] and I talked about how funny that was, and I said “Well, I’ve had this since the pilot.” and she said “It’s so weird they gave me this prop!” So maybe subconsciously the prop master was in tune in on some level.
You and Jennifer Morrison had a pretty serious fistfight in in the midseason finale. How did things go off camera? Was it a fun energy release or did things ever get real?
(Laughs) Jen Morrison and I get along really well, so it's always kind of odd when you’re having a fight on-set or onstage, but we’re pros and we had our stunt coordinator there. I actually study boxing -- my dad was a Golden Gloves champion so I learned how to fight at a very young age. Growing up in Brooklyn you always had to watch your back, so I pretty much learned to protect myself. I still train, not seriously, but as a nice workout, so the punch wasn’t difficult for me, and I believe Jen Morrison has some training on her own, she’s very athletic. It was fun for us, but we were very careful not to hurt each other.
The midseason premiere also looks pretty intense; the promos show a lot of flames and physicality. Do you enjoy that part of the performance?
You have to be very cautious, because anyone can get hurt at any time, but we have a great stunt coordinator on-set, we have a firefighter standing by, everything is very well-protected, everyone is very protected. But it's a lot of fun doing action on a show like this. We’ve covered every genre on this show! I’m not so much the hero, Jen Morrison plays the hero, but it is fun being the victim, at least, I could say, in this particular episode. I know you’ve seen in the upcoming promos where Regina says "Help me," so you’ll see how Emma ends up saving her. It's a lot of fun. It was one of our favorite scenes because it was so active and it was just fun for us to be physical.
You have so many layers going on with Regina. What was your basis for the Regina-Graham relationship? Did you see their relationship as being only physical, or did Regina really have feelings for Graham?
I think it was a combination of the two. [At the end of the last episode,] the Evil Queen in fairytale land said, “Take him to my bedchamber!” which I kind of like -- it's like the dominatrix in her, which is fun to play, even if it's just a small moment. But I think in Storybrooke there are some real feelings for Graham, and you’ll see that in the upcoming episode this Sunday, you’ll see how there is a genuine care and love for Graham, so its not superficial at any level. It's not surface, it's not solely physical. There is a void that she’s trying to fill, and it's not only with Henry; Graham is filling that void, or did fill that void, to some degree as well.
So is there going to be a real romance for Regina going forward?
We’ll see! I think she maybe has to mourn a little bit before she jumps into a new relationship. She does have a heart, even though she crushes everyone else’s. She actually has many hearts in her chamber! But she does have one of her own.
While we count down the minutes until we get to see this Sunday's follow-up on Graham's collapse and the big showdown between Regina and Rumpelstiltskin, you can catch up on every episode of Once Upon a Time that's aired so far at abc.com.