Two-faced evil queen
Lana’s dual role takes her into the heart of darkness, writes
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.