THE face of Disney villainy is curled up in a Canadian hotel room in a fluffy robe. Lana Parrilla ( pictured) has just woken up, her throat is still hoarse from cheering on Barack Obama’s election win and she reveals she’s there for a ‘‘ romantic little getaway’’ with boyfriend Fred Di Blasio.
Wait. Fluffy robe? Once Upon A Time ’ s Evil Queen wears a fluffy robe?
‘‘ It’s cold,’’ she laughs sheepishly in a voice so devoid of trademark menace you wonder that she ever believably ripped out hearts and enacted dark curses on screen.
But wait five minutes and you hear it. The Brooklyn- born daughter of a Puerto Rican baseball star and a Sicilian painter has an impressive arsenal of vocal inflections, courtesy of a decade of voice lessons.
She literally cackles as she recounts scaring a young Cinderella witless on Halloween. You can well picture the girl, and everyone within a 50m radius, backed into a corner, trembling.
‘‘ You know I don’t LIKE little princesses,’’ she sneers menacingly as she recreates the scene, before turning on the honey. ‘‘ But you do make a pretty one.’’ She laughs heartily.
‘‘ People are afraid of me, some adults, some children,’’ Parrilla, 35, says with relish. ‘‘ But I think we’ve seen such a human side to this character, they’re more intrigued now. They want to get to know who I am outside of this character, which is kinda cool.’’
The real Parrilla is a born performer. She’s artistic, sporty ‘‘ it’s in my DNA’’ and driven.
As a celebrity, she is one of the new breed – connected, accessible and social- media savvy. In her downtime, Parrilla often can be found tweeting her large global band of followers, the Evil Regals. In past months her tweets have exhorted them to vote, support gay marriage and try the burgers at a Vancouver eatery. She says her fans even inspired her to quit smoking.
She also is largely unfiltered. Parrilla famously posted to the Evil Regals a video of herself after just waking up, wearing no make- up and endearingly rumpled. It was wildly popular.
But somehow, under all that niceness, lurks some fairly convincing evil. Certainly, it did last season on the fantasy drama when Parrilla’s enraged Evil Queen Regina sent her enemies to Storybrooke, Maine, stripped of memories of their previous fairytale lives.
Season two kicked off last week in Australia with the curse broken and everyone remembering again.
Snow White ( Ginnifer Goodwin) and daughter Emma ( Jennifer Morrison) have been sucked into another realm and meet new characters, including Captain Hook and Mulan.
Parrilla plays three Reginas – a sweet younger self; the closed- off, scheming Storybrooke mayor; and the Evil Queen. The hardest thing has been to make a famously cartoonish villain multi- layered.
Parrilla does it by working out what drives Regina. ‘‘ She has evil tendencies but I don’t think she is evil,’’ Parrilla says. ‘‘ She is on the cusp of insanity. I think she’s definitely misunderstood on many levels.’’
This season Regina’s focus is on redeeming herself to win back her angry adopted son.
‘‘ You’re going to see a very different Regina,’’ Parrilla says. ‘‘ She’s becoming more reasonable and more human. She’s very vulnerable.’’
Her biggest challenge may be more physical, specifically those stunning Evil Queen costumes, with plunging cleavage, voluminous skirts and cinched corsets that she admits, make it very difficult to breathe.
Apparently evil does come with a price. But, when you get to play Disney’s most iconic villain, it’s one Parrilla seems more than happy to pay.
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