‘Once Upon a Time’ Showrunners Talk ‘Frozen,’ the Charming Family’s Challenges and Regina’s Evolution
Emma and Elsa have a lot in common as characters, in terms of their familial struggles and their inability to control their powers…
Kitsis: What you just said is exactly one of the inspirations and why we were really excited and asked Disney if we could do “Frozen,” because we looked up at that screen and said, ‘oh that’s Emma’s bestie.’ They have so much in common and we just loved it, and so we really wanted to explore that because these are two people who really feel alienated, who aren’t sure about themselves, and who have dealt with a lot of pain growing up, and are still coming into who they are as people. That’s what we really loved about it, and we were inspired to say, ‘what happens when Emma and Elsa have a heart-to-heart?’
Can you tease anything else about their dynamic and what they might be able to teach each other?
Horowitz: Elsa has been down many of the same paths that Emma has either been down or is going down, and because of that, they’re going to find a way to bond and a way to work together.
Kitsis: And in the movie “Frozen,” we saw Anna help Elsa come to a realization and give her some advice, and I think what’s fun about “Frozen” and our arc this year is, you’re going to see Elsa doing that for Emma.
Hook and Emma are both very independent characters — what can you say about how they might navigate their new relationship and those personality clashes?
Kitsis: It is an interesting thing because Emma has had some very tough relationships in the past. She’s a very guarded person. We know she puts her walls up to defend herself. So we really wanted to explore it in a real way. Just because they kissed at the end of the season, doesn’t mean they’re registering at Pottery Barn right now. And they’re going to have other things [to deal with] and one of the things that we’re really excited about is, we’re definitely going to show their relationship, but at the same time, we’re going to see Emma continue to evolve and question certain things about herself. And at the same time, we can’t forget Captain Hook was a pirate and he had a very, very unhealthy rivalry with Rumplestiltskin, and that, unfortunately [for him], is going to rear its head, but fortunately for us, because it’s awesome. We’re excited to see those two get it on again.
How much will we see Emma struggling with seeing Snow White and Prince Charming being parents after missing out on her own childhood with them?
Horowitz: That’s something that we intend to explore this season, which is Snow and Charming being parents and with a child. They have been a parent before but they have thrown that child into a wardrobe. [Laughs.] This is the first time that they’re actually raising a baby. And Emma is witnessing that and she’s also realizing that this is something she’s missed out on and that there is some complexity between all these characters — which is a beautiful thing, having a new child and an expanded family — but there’s issues that are brought out of this.
Kitsis: I think if you asked Emma at the end of last year ‘how do you feel about your parents having a baby?’ she would say, ‘that’s fantastic.’ But then you’re like… ‘well, why would I be jealous? Why would I care?’ But then seeing your mom get to cradle a baby and give them all the things that you didn’t have, it starts bring up things that you never thought were inside yourself. We all have thoughts and feelings and emotions that we aren’t aware of until something triggers them.
Horowitz: It’s one of the things that we’re really excited to explore this season, which is dipping more into Emma’s past, and seeing some of that and how that shaped who she is.
Kitsis: What we’re really excited about is that we’re going to explore an Emma flashback to her days in foster care in episode five.
And how much will Snow and Charming be struggling with both being new parents and, undoubtedly, being reminded of that lost time with Emma?
Kitsis: Snow White is… obviously, she is a new mother and that is going to be fantastic, but we’re going to realize that losing Emma in the past is definitely going to affect her and the way she parents. But also, Emma’s going to have some new responsibilities in town, and as far as Charming, he’s going to continue to be a great dad to Emma. He is going to be an over-protective dad as she goes on a date with Hook, and at the same time, we’re going to see a flashback in episode two of Charming when he was still a shepherd before he met Snow, when he was still on the farm. So we’re excited this year to show a lot of our characters [in the past]. We’re going to see Belle. We’re going to meet her mom. We’re going to see her before she met Rumple. We’re going to see Charming before Snow. And we’re excited for some of these earlier stories that we’ve only hinted at previously but haven’t really explored.
As you mentioned, Emma’s parents have always been somewhat overprotective to overcompensate for their lost time, so how much of a struggle will it be — for Charming in particular — not to interfere in her relationship with Hook?
Horowitz: It will be a challenge. I mean, it’s one of the fun things for to us explore, which is he’s going to have to a parent to both a newborn and a fully-grown child, a fully-grown child who can take care of herself, who is also being wooed by a pirate. That’s a lot for any man to handle.
What we’re really excited about is that we’re going to explore an Emma flashback to her days in foster care in episode five.
We’re excited to see those two get it on again.