Two-faced evil queen

Lana’s dual role takes her into the heart of dark­ness, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY -

LANA Par­rilla plays dual roles in the new fan­tasy drama Once Upon a Time. As the fear­some Evil Queen, the ac­tress, 34, wasn’t sat­is­fied know­ing her char­ac­ter was evil.

‘‘You can also see she’s a tor­tured soul. I made a very con­scious choice to re­veal the pain un­der­neath,’’ Par­rilla says.

While she prepped for her au­di­tion, she asked her­self: What caused that pain?

‘‘I did a med­i­ta­tion and I saw a lot of her past and tapped into it,’’ she says.

What was her dis­cov­ery dur­ing that process? A ‘‘ ma­jor be­trayal and the loss of some­one she deeply loves are what caused the dark­ness to over­take her, and what caused her need to pun­ish ev­ery­one in her life. She doesn’t want any­one to be happy, be­cause her hap­pi­ness was taken from her.’’

Par­rilla shared her epiphany with the show’s co-cre­ators, Ed­ward Kit­sis and Adam Horowitz, ‘‘and they had their own vi­sion which was to­tally in line with mine. Maybe I tapped into their psy­ches!’’ The se­ries has a mind-bend­ing premise. ‘‘Ev­ery time I try to pitch this show, it sounds like I’ve just smoked some­thing re­ally strong,’’ Par­rilla laughs.

In a nutshell: A curse ut­tered by the Evil Queen ends with a num­ber of fairy­tale char­ac­ters trans­ported to the con­tem­po­rary vil­lage of Sto­ry­brooke, Maine.

There they have for­got­ten their pasts as sto­ry­book char­ac­ters.

Stranded in the ar­ti­fice of real life, they have now been de­nied ev­ery fairy­tale char­ac­ter’s birthright: the prospect of a happy end­ing.

The hard-hearted mayor of Sto­ry­brooke is Regina, also played by Par­rilla.

Gin­nifer Good­win, Josh Dal­las, Robert Car­lyle, Jared Gil­more and Jen­nifer Mor­ri­son also star in the show.

Par­rilla has ap­peared in short-lived shows that in­clude Mi­ami Med­i­cal, Swing­town and Boom­town.

‘‘When the script for Once came my way, I had the thought that maybe it will last only a sea­son,’’ she says.

‘‘But I was will­ing to take that risk. Even if it hadn’t got­ten picked up as a se­ries, I’m happy to have played this part.’’

She should say parts since she has had to mas­ter not one role, but two. ‘‘In the be­gin­ning, the chal­lenge was find­ing their voices and how to make them dif­fer­ent,’’ she says. ‘‘I wanted the queen’s voice to have a deeper res­o­nance and for her to have a free­dom in her body – she’s fierce, she’s bold.

‘‘Regina, I think, is much more cal­cu­lated. She’s a politi­cian. She has to keep her emo­tions in check.’’

Even now, switch­ing back and forth be­tween the char­ac­ters can be dizzy­ing – lit­er­ally. Play­ing the Evil Queen, Par­rilla per­forms in a cav­ernous stu­dio in Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia, with few sets or props, in­stead dom­i­nated by a sprawl­ing green screen.

‘‘Af­ter 16 hours on a green-screen stage, your head is lit­er­ally spin­ning,’’ she laughs.

Most of the queen’s scenes take place in the palace – which is vir­tual.

‘‘No walls. No cor­ri­dor. No fire­place. It’s huge, that stage, with noth­ing to hold on to,’’ she says.

It’s not as if she doesn’t love to play pre­tend, and al­ways has, even as a child back in Brook­lyn.

‘‘I played lots of fan­tasy games. I would cre­ate these worlds, and I would be­lieve in them. So it’s not that dif­fer­ent as an adult.

‘‘I fig­ure if I did it then, I can do it now. But I hadn’t had to use that part of my brain in a long time,’’ she says.

Tues­days, 7.30pm, Seven, Prime7.

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