As far as life-changing events go, having the child you gave up for adoption ten years ago suddenly appear at your door and drag you to a town populated by cursed fairy tale characters ranks pretty high. But according to “Once Upon a Time” star Jennifer Morrison, who plays bail bondwoman and unwitting daughter to Snow White, Emma Swan – the life-altering drama is about to be turned up to 11. On a call this week, Morrison dished on what kind of drastic changes lie ahead in the land of Storybrooke, how Sunday’s episode will explore more of the hit ABC show’s mythology, and why the lonely Ms. Swan might soon be ready for a romantic interlude.
Emma is pretty isolated and lonely when we first meet her. How does having Henry [Jared Gilmore] and the people of Storybrooke in her life change her?
Emma being drawn into this world of Storybrooke through Henry is definitely the most uncomfortable thing that’s probably ever happened to her. She’s worked quite hard to keep herself isolated so that she doesn’t ever have to get hurt. The fact that she’s now opening herself to this child who she had to give up and is now reconnecting with him… And connecting with Mary Margaret, who seems to be incredibly kind and loving and generous without wanting anything back, which Emma has never experienced before. We’ll see a lot of push and pull from her. She starts to feel safe enough that she opens up, and then panics that she’s opened up and kind of closes off again. In a sense I feel like Emma is like a 14-year old boy in her mind. She’s kind of awkward and closed off. You sort of see her starting from that place and you’re going to see her grow tremendously emotionally over time as she spends time around these people and it feels safer and safer to open up to them.
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Is there a point where she starts to really believe Henry?
I don’t know when that’s gonna happen. We’re starting [to film] episode 11 and she still does not believe him. She’s going along with it because she feels like it’s the right thing to do in terms of supporting a child who she believes is using these stories to help him work through emotional problems and these stressful situations he’s going through. She’s not going along with it because she believes there’s any truth to it yet. I’ll be just as fascinated as everyone else to find out what it is that would actually tip the scales to make any person believe that they’re living amongst fairy tale characters who are cursed and don’t know who they are.
On some subconscious level do Emma and Snow White/Mary Margaret [Ginnifer Goodwin] realize who they are to each other?
There’s definitely a magnetism. Whenever she’s around Mary Margaret it’s unsettling but in a good way. She instantly feels more vulnerable. Emma’s someone who’s in constant conflict internally. She does feel some kind of pull to Mary Margaret, but she sort of discounts it as just being someone that is different than anyone she’s ever met before, not because she thinks, Oh, this woman might be my mother.
Is Emma going to keep her job and commute to Storybrooke, Maine from Boston? That’s quite a haul, if so.
[Laughs] I think she believes that she’s going to keep her job and commute to Storybrooke. That’s what she’s telling herself initially, but there’s a point in which she realizes that she can’t. The only reason she’s been able to live with the fact that she had to give up Henry is because she believes that she really did the best thing for him. And when she realizes that maybe his life isn’t as good as she’d hoped it would be, she is not going to be able to live with herself until she follows through and makes sure that his life is good. And when she gets to the point where she realizes that she’s going to have to stick around and be closer to him in order to make sure that happens, she will make some drastic life changes in order to stay in his life.
Are we going to see any flashbacks of Emma’s earlier life? Or is that strictly reserved for the people of Storybrooke?
As far as I know, they’re not going to flashback into reality. All the flashbacks are in fairy tale land. But they’ve been telling Emma’s story through other characters who she relates to. Down the road there are other fairy tale characters that are in reality that Emma ends up connected to that also reveal more about her past. When they have these standalone episodes with these new fairy tale characters that they introduce, they use them structurally to tell Emma’s story. They’re sort of, in a sense, like her flashbacks in a way.
As Emma starts to become more open, does that in turn open her up to a potential romantic opportunity?
Ummm….possibly. We’ll see! Let’s just say that there is room in Emma’s heart for love. It will be very complicated to see how that works.
What can we expect from Sunday’s episode?
The new episode really dives into the curse. We really get to see into the backstory about why the Evil Queen wanted to find this curse, why she’s evil, and why she feels so compelled to inflict this curse. We really start to get into the foundational elements of the [show's] mythology. Then in, in Episode 3, we really kind of launch into the storytelling. We start filling in the blanks and seeing how Snow White and Prince Charming met, and why they fell in love, and how they fell in love, and other characters start to come in. We meet Cinderella at one point. The doors sort of blow open after that second episode.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.