Any avid television watcher will understand my primary reasons for getting into a new series – it’s either because I have a fondness for a certain actor, or because I’ve been a fan of a writer/producer/show-runner’s previous projects. Of course, there are times when the usual “this looks good, everyone is raving about it and I should give it a try” musing works out (see: Mad Men and Shameless) but generally, the latter is what I experience most.
LOST was six wonderful years of my life, and through the time I invested with the show, I not only developed a supportive nature towards the cast members but towards the creative team. And when executive producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz announced their new fairytale series almost a year ago, I knew I would be on board no matter what.
As it stands, Once Upon A Time is now my favorite show. I’ve been lucky enough to interview both Eddy & Adam on a number of occasions throughout the past year and I can honestly say that they are some of the sweetest (not to mention most down-to-earth) individuals in the business. They truly appreciate the support and don’t take for granted the fact that their show has done as well as it has. When we recently spoke, I was reminded of how much it can make a difference when you truly love a piece of work because you support those who make it.
First of all, happy belated birthday, Eddy!
Eddy Kitsis: “Thank you!”
Second of all, congrats on the show and all its success. I’m so happy that it’s become such a hit and it must be amazing to see all the positive feedback. I know that at Comic Con and in interviews prior to the show’s debut, you spoke about why you think people should tune in. Now that you’re established and you have the ratings, what do you think it is that drew people in and has kept them coming back?
Adam Horowitz: “I would never presume to get why people watch or don’t watch. All we can do – what we can continue to do since we’ve started – is tell the stories that we think are interesting and cool, and tell them the best way we know how…and hope they come along for the ride. So far, the amount of people who watch the show has been incredibly humbling and gratifying.”
You’ve done a really good job of incorporating both a mix of classic fairy tales such as Snow White and Cinderella and more modern fare such as Beauty and the Beast. Can we expect to see other modern stories like Aladdin or The Little Mermaid?
AH: “We plan to continue to play with the various mythologies that we’ve already established on the show, and we also plan to dip into a couple of new ones as we move forward. We’re excited about that. We also have some surprises that have been a lot of fun for us to cook up and we hope the audience enjoys them as well.”
EK: “I think we reserve the right to delve into all of those places. As far as some of those go, we may not get to this year but hopefully some day, we will. We definitely would like to do The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel and Aladdin, and sometimes it’s just a matter of realization.”
Right, like making sure it fits in the story and into the scope of the season…and at this point in time, I imagine you’re starting to flesh out the last few episodes. Are some of the mysteries from this year going to carry over, such as the broken glass coffin that we saw hidden under the sink hole?
AH: “What we can say is that things like the glass coffin and the stranger – for example, who he is and what he’s doing there – are mysteries that we set up that we fully intend to answer this year. There are obviously ongoing things with the show that, if we’re lucky enough to get another season, we would want to continue…but we really want to kind of complete the story that we set out to tell for this first season.”
Do you have an idea of where you want to take the show, given that things look pretty positive in terms of a second season?
EK: “Adam and I definitely have an idea of what we want to do for season 2, and hopefully there will be little signs of that at the end of this season and the finale will kind of point towards where we’re going. As far as season 3 and season 4…I mean, we’re kind of giving ourselves freedom. We’re tackling it a season at a time and we have some big overarching things, but we don’t want any of those to restrict creativity. Because sometimes, you’ll think of something that would be great for season 4, but you get to season 4 and you’re like, ‘You know what, that’s not longer relevant.’ So, we don’t want to be slaves to things we thought of three years earlier.”
AH: “What we’re trying to do is stick with the big ideas we’ve had since we came up with the idea for the show, but as Eddy said, allow ourselves the freedom to figure out the most enjoyable way for us to get to those places.”
As someone who is just as interested in the creative side of TV as the performance side, I’m curious to know your method for bringing these stories to life. Do you have a certain process in terms of figuring out what to take from each fairytale?
EK: “I think the way we kind of approach it is that we have a rough idea of an episode. For instance, we knew we wanted to do the Cinderella episode and we knew…our twist on it, of course, was that Mr. Gold – or Rumplestiltskin in fairytale land – sent her and made a deal with her. So we usually start with the fairytale side first, and then Storybrooke.”
There are so many main cast members and secondary characters that have been explored and the ensemble vibe reminds me a lot of LOST – but I think Once is a little different in that certain characters, such as Emma, Snow and Regina, sort of ground the story. Do you anticipate having a LOST scenario where your main cast changes with the flow of the show, or do you see yourself really sticking to your core characters?
EK: “It’s hard to say, because even in LOST, we introduced the tail section, and then we had Desmond and Ben Linus…but we still had Jack and Locke and Sawyer and Kate, and they were the staples and they were our heroes that took us through the story. So for us, Emma and Snow and Charming and Gold…these are core characters. But of course, you always want to bring more people for them to play with.”
Let’s touch a little bit on Emma and her relationships. She finally opened up about her feelings just as Graham got killed, so is that going to play a role in how she reacts to other people?
EK: “I think Emma’s struggle has always been to allow people in. We always said that Emma is a character looking for a home, because she’s never had one and she doesn’t know what it is. And I think that she’s always walled herself off emotionally, and therefore it’s really not until Henry comes…it’s the first time she starts to let people in. And I think Graham…when he died, it kind of made her remember. It’s a lot easier to not remember people, because then you don’t get hurt. But I think that Emma’s experience through the years, you know, having that wall come down and saying, ‘Okay, she does have a great friendship with Mary Margaret’ – without realizing that’s her mom [laughs.] And beginning to see her care more about her, and becoming more of a mother to Henry. And so it’s slowly chipping away at her walls.”
I love all the LOST actors you’ve been bringing into the fold – Alan Dale has been wonderful, and of course you have Emilie de Ravin’s episode coming up this week, which I’m so excited about. Is there a chance we could see more LOST alum in future episodes?
AH: “Anything’s possible, but we had such a special experience on that show that anytime we’d want to bring someone over that we’re interested in, it would have to be exactly the right thing that everyone’s really excited about. Like with Emilie [de Ravin], it was just amazing to have her want to do this role, and it was so much fun to kind of come up with it and bring her in to our world here. We’re really excited for people to see her take on Belle.”
EK: “Obviously, we love all the LOST actors and we’d be honored to write for them again. It would just have to be the right role in the right situation.”
Which is understandable! Speaking of casting, one of the strengths of this show is its phenomenal cast. Is there a favorite scene you’ve developed so far that you’ve loved watching come to life? Or something that looked awesome on paper but became even more awesome once certain actors read it?
EK: “I would say honestly, every week we feel that. Our cast is so strong and they make Adam and I look so good. Every week and every day when we watch dailies, they just bring something to the material and what’s great is that now, almost a year later – because we’ve been working with them – it’s like we’re all kind of in sync. We have one thing in our mind, they have one thing in their mind, and then it comes together in this third way that’s even better. But we’re constantly mesmerized by what the cast does with the script. We really, truly believe they elevate it.”
I love how they’re all just as close in real life as they are when they’re filming…it really comes across on the show.
EK: “It’s great. They’re all really good friends and fun to be with, and we’re very lucky in that everyone who works on the show works really hard, including the crew who doesn’t get a lot of credit. They’re in the middle of the forest at 3am! Everyone really works hard because they love the show, and you can’t force that. It just kind of has to happen naturally…and we’ve been very lucky on this one.”
Well, let me tell you, it definitely translates…you can tell when a crew and a cast and the writers love their show and put all their effort into making it the best it can be. Are there story lines we can look forward to? I know we’re going to learn more about the Evil Queen and her mother…are we going to see any other developments for our characters?
EK: “I think we’re going to see some exciting stuff on the Storybrooke side. We’re going to see stuff develop. And as far as fairytale, we can tell you that we are going to be diving into Little Red Riding Hood’s back story…we are going to be showing you how Grumpy became Grumpy, we will, of course, eventually tell you why the Evil Queen hates Snow White…and we will tell you who the stranger is. We’re planning on a lot of fun episodes coming up.”
[laughs] So basically, my head should just be ready to explode because I’m not going to know what to do with all my theories, right?
EK: “We can only hope!”
Once Upon A Time airs Sunday nights at 8pm on ABC.