It’s almost time to close the storybook on “Once Upon A Time,” the fairy tale drama branchild of “Lost” veterans Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. The series will come to an end after seven seasons on ABC May 18, with the creators hoping to leave their audience a little more hopeful than how they found them.
“I think we were the first show to put a sword in Snow White’s hand, and we didn’t have damsels in distress. I hope our legacy is people realize that they can save themselves,” said Kitsis at an event celebrating the series Tuesday in Los Angeles, Calif.
Despite believing they would get canceled their first season, Kitsis and Horowitz revealed that the first seed for the show actually began with discussions about the Evil Queen/Regina, who came to be played by Lana Parrilla.
“We started talking about how frustrating would it be where you fail at everything you do? And where’s the one place the Evil Queen could take us where she could win? The real world,” Kitsis explained.
For her part, Parrilla noted that she never would have imagined the Evil Queen/Regina would become a hero, let alone find her own happy ending as the series comes to a close.
“She wasn’t just this theatrical, fantastical Evil Queen. I understood her pain, her broken heart, her struggles, and her complexities. And I wanted to tell her story. She definitely is happy in the finale and there is a beautiful ending to this series,” Parrilla said.
Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas, who are also returning for the finale as Snow White and Prince Charming, respectively, were on hand to celebrate the series’ run as well and cited the show’s representation of empowered women as one of the main reasons they initially signed onto the project.
“That pilot season, [‘Once Upon a Time’] was the most unique script that I had read for television, [putting] these characters we know and love into a world where they don’t know who they really are. The fact that it was a script featuring very strong women was also very appealing for me,” said Dallas.
Goodwin added: “I’m a Disneyphile, and I always wanted to play a Disney princess. But really, since the first script, it’s always depicted strong, beautiful, complicated women in the lead roles and frankly, I think that’s important to note given what’s going on right now. That this show has always treated us behind-the-scenes the way they treated us onscreen, especially with two male showrunners.”
Goodwin and Dallas left the show after season 6 but insisted that they started calling Kitsis and Horowitz in the fall to come back to Storybrooke, at least for an episode.
“We were dying to come back. The only reason we left, which we worked out with [Kitsis and Horowitz] years ago, was that we had an opportunity for our eldest son to go to a school that we were excited about. But yes, we had every intention of returning,” Goodwin said.
How the Charmings return to the world of the show after so many episodes away, Dallas, said, is that they “get word that their family’s in trouble and show up to help -just like any sword-wielding and bow and arrow-holding grandparents would do.”
Meanwhile, Rose Reynolds, who plays Alice in Wonderland and was originally only slated for a five-episode run in the rebooted season 7, said that Alice and her girlfriend Robin (Tiera Skovbye) are a big part of the recruiting for the “rescue mission.”
“Robin and I hijack the Rollin’ Bayou truck, throw a magic bean, and we arrive back in Storybrooke,” she said. “But it’s not a happy welcome.
In addition to the series ending with Alice and Robin together, according to Skovbye, the finale plans on introducing audiences to Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Hook’s (Colin O’Donoghue) baby.
“I don’t think we could handle the rioting if we didn’t,” Kitsis said.
The producers also confirmed that traditional villain Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) will finally get his chance at redemption, perhaps proving that everyone deserves a happy ending after all. But while the ending was certainly on everyone’s mind, it was not the focal point.
“This is a show where people have second chances. For us, what’s interesting is that it’s not about being a hero or a villain, it’s where you end up. And that’s what the show was always about — the journey. It wasn’t the happy ending. It was the journey,” said Kitsis.