[Warning: Major spoilers for this week's Once Upon a Time below]
"Beauty" may be one of the most emotional and aptly named episodes in the history of Once Upon a Time, because it managed to give a beautiful ending to a beautiful character. Now that we've turned the final page in the book of Belle's (Emilie de Ravin) life, we know her happy ending was a bittersweet mix of love and devastation.
After living a full life together on the Edge of Realms, Belle and Rumplestitlskin (Robert Carlyle) had to face their biggest obstacle yet: saying goodbye. Though he wanted a mortal life with her, Rumple was unable to rid himself of the curse that kept him immortal, meaning while he stayed the same, Belle aged (quite gracefully) and eventually died in his arms as an old woman.
TV Guide talked to Emilie de Ravin about Belle's legacy on Once Upon a Time, and whether this really is the end of Rumbelle's story.
I actually cried watching this episode. Did it make you emotional as well?
Emilie de Ravin: I got to watch it last night. I must say, I cried a little ... I didn't think I'd cry, it's odd to cry — or to laugh for that matter — at something you're doing yourself, you know? It wasn't at me, it was at Bobby. I was like, "No! It's gonna be okay, Rumple!"
Going all the way back to filming "Skin Deep," did you guys realize you'd struck gold with this couple while making that episode, or did that come later?
de Ravin: It felt really good, but it also felt really good in a nutshell. Like that's all it was — in a wonderful way — but it was just going to be that one episode, and it felt wonderful. I felt like this was a really fantastic experience, and I really loved this character and loved working with Bobby and the whole thing kind of clicked immediately. I suppose the doors are always open with a show like this for people coming back, but it was never really talked about. It was just this isolated episode, so it felt wonderful, but it's nice to know that if something works, you bring more of it.
Did you guys feel like you had a responsibility to show fans the full picture of what happened to this character and how her life played out before saying goodbye?
de Ravin: Yes, I think it was important to give them their story and to give them their ending and to give the audience the enjoyment of seeing Rumple and Belle have the fruitful, somewhat peaceful life that they never really had been able to obtain before.
Was was your reaction when you found out that despite getting to see this amazing story, Belle was actually going to die in the end?
de Ravin: I mean, it's beautiful. It's so beautifully written, I couldn't stop crying when I read the script. I loved the script, it's probably my favorite read of a script on this show just because it really tapped into the emotions perfectly. But you know, it's life. Belle's not immortal. It's almost sadder for me, empathizing with Rumple, in a sense. He's left in this position of having immortality but not really knowing what to do or where to go and trying to figure it out with Gideon (Giles Matthey), whereas Belle has come to this peaceful place; a place of closure and contentment and fulfillment. I think no matter whether you're old or young or dying or living, to get to a place where you feel fulfilled and content is really rare and really cool.
Was it hard for you and Robert Carlyle filming that deathbed scene?
de Ravin: Oh yeah, and it was amplified too because we had our crew crying. It was very, very, very sad, but a heartwarming, special day. Everyone was so connected. The level of respect on that set was so beautiful, everyone was just super sweet and quiet and loving, not just towards us but towards each other. It sort of built the energy of this green screen sound stage, which usually has a bit of a — I don't know, a hospital-like feel. You're in a room that's bright green for like 14 hours plus, but it suddenly became this really safe place. It was a very sad day, but a very cool day.
Was it bizarre to watch yourself age through like four different decades with all the makeup and the wigs?
de Ravin: It is, it's pretty cool. It's tricky too, especially with skin stuff. I'd never had to do anything like that. It's very hard to mimic drooping skin. That's a very hard thing to try and do. The hair thing is a little easier, and the wigs are fantastic. I quite like gray hair on me though! I'm kind of into it... So that got me thinking, I want dark hair again so I can go gray. When I go gray, I'm not going to be able to see it that much. I won't be salt and pepper, I'll be like salt and the white pepper you can buy.
Rumple very matter-of-factly decides to break his curse and give up his power, so he can be with Belle. Is that a big thing for her, considering how much of an issue his curse has been for them in the past?
de Ravin: It's huge. Totally. That's really been the crux of the majority of their problems, and it's not an easy decision or conclusion for him to make about what to do with that. That was such a beautiful moment, and then just the letdown of it not working and what is next. As with their relationship all along, for her to be by his side like, "Well, we're not giving up just because something's not working out. Your intention is the most important part here." I think that rings true for a lot of things in life. You can have the best intention and that one thing may not work out, but the intention doesn't change, and that can change you in the end.
Do you think there's room for Belle to appear again, either in flashbacks or even reuniting with Rumple in the afterlife?
de Ravin: Yeah, have you seen what this show does? [Laughs]. I don't think they really ever close the door on anyone, which I love. It's a wonderful thing because you never know what's behind the next door.
Do you have any kind of goodbye message you'd want to give to Belle fans?
de Ravin: Just, I love you guys. The fan support for this character and the show in general has just been - and still is - phenomenal. The show wouldn't exist without you guys, and I love you so much. And who knows? This doesn't mean this is the end, and if it is, it is. If it's not, it's not. But so much love, and it's been such a wonderful experience bringing Belle to life with our own spin on such an iconic character. It's pretty cool.
Once Upon a Time airs Fridays at 8/7c on ABC.