ABC's Once Upon a Time is about to take the fairytale characters out of the world of make believe and bring them into reality.
In the series, (premiering Sunday at 8/7c on ABC), the Evil Queen banishes Snow White, Prince Charming and their fairytale kin to the real-world town of Storybrooke, where they lead normal lives, never realizing who they were. It's not until Henry (Jared Gilmore) drags his estranged mom, tough bail bondsman Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), into town to help her realize a shocking truth: Fairytales are real, and Emma is the daughter of Snow White.
Once Upon a Time will follow Emma as she tries to comprehend this rather surprising turn of events. "She's a rational person," executive producer Steve Pearlman says. "She knows the fairytales aren't real, they can't possibly be true. Yet, things keep happening that suggest that maybe they are true."
Though trapped in Storybrooke, traces of the fairytale characters' old lives remain, i.e. school teacher Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin), formerly Snow White, is still afraid of apples, and Regina (Lana Parrilla), the Mayor of Storybrooke, is just as dastardly as the Evil Queen. (As for why she has joined her fairytale enemies in the real world? Stay tuned.)
"Mary Margaret knows she's having these urges to, for instance, stand up to Regina and she's not able to quite follow through," Goodwin says. "Something is being kindled in her and she assumes that it's the influence of Emma. She doesn't realize it might be a magical influence of Emma's." Mary Margaret herself is hard-pressed to believe she's part of a fairytale. "It would be ridiculous," Goodwin says.
One of the effects of the Evil Queen's curse is keeping Snow White and Prince Charming apart. So even while Mary Margaret finds herself drawn to a hospital patient known as John Doe (Josh Dallas), aka Prince Charming, it'll take more to bring them together. "That's what the curse is trying to do," Dallas says. "It is keeping us as far apart as possible because true love is a very powerful thing. It can destroy worlds, it's so powerful."
Other famed characters will also come into play, including Cinderella (Jessy Schram), a friend of Snow White, Maleficent (Kristin Bauer), a frenemy of the Queen's, as well as Hansel and Gretel and the Blind Witch. "We very much want to be able to broaden the world of the show to bring in other fairytale elements," Pearlman says. "In some cases, we're trying to introduce a character in an episode who you might not even know who they are or what significance they have until a couple episodes later."
Even that infamous red apple will come into play. "In an episode a little bit later, we tell the story of how the Queen came to get the red apple that she is going to kill Snow White with," Pearlman says. "It's totally fabricated by the writers on this show. It has nothing to do with the mythology of the original fairytales."
Once Upon a Time premieres Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.