Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has introduced a new side to this fairy tale land that was originally introduced in the original Once series. While Alice and the Knave search for her love, Cyrus, the Red Queen and Jafar have their own plot to find Cyrus’ bottle.
I recently visited the show’s sets to speak to the cast about this magical new series. Emma Rigby spoke with reporters about her elegant and conniving character’s motivations and plans in Wonderland.
We’ve seen other Queens in the Once Upon a Time universe, how does the Red Queen differ from them?
With my Queen, with the Red Queen, the traditional Red Queen in the Through The Looking Glass novel, Lewis Carroll envisioned her as fury, but more in a very controlled, governess manner rather than somebody that’s evil and very openly a villain — an antagonist of the series.
With that in mind, I kind of wanted to bring some humor and a real different take on the idea. It’s the idea of the Red Queen. She’s kind of fabulous and she’s enjoying it and it’s like she’s living in a film. She’s playing the role of the villain and enjoying it and not necessarily taking herself too seriously. So I think that’s gonna hopefully translate. I want the audience to kinda of be with her and like her and enjoy her.
When Once Upon a Time previously visited Wonderland, viewers were introduced to the Queen of Hearts. What’s the Red Queen’s relationship to her?
In the series, it’s not featured. The Queen of Hearts is not mentioned, so it’s as if the Red Queen is now in power of Wonderland. The Queen of Hearts is nowhere to be seen. The Red Queen [rules] after the Queen of Hearts.
What’s that like to play the Red Queen?
It’s a brilliant role in terms of — I would usually always get cast as the Alice character. So to be able to play a villain is a difference. And then, suddenly, I’m dressed in the most fabulous costumes literally. It’s Hollywood glamour. It’s my dream. Who doesn’t like to dress up and wear a crown?
Why did the Red Queen turn on Cyrus and Alice in the premiere? What is her motivation?
The Red Queen is the ruler of Wonderland, so she has all the power. She’s all knowing and all seeing. She is the one person that has access to Alice and Cyrus. To her, that’s the beginning of the game for her and her plan. So that move isn’t necessarily to kill Cyrus, it’s to start the adventures of Wonderland.
What is her goal in Wonderland?
She has one distinct thing that she wants to ascertain and she’s prepared to go all the way to get that. We won’t find out what that is — I don’t even know what that is — as of yet.
How evil is the Red Queen?
We want her to be the villain, the antagonist of the series. She’s got to be Alice’s rival otherwise Alice has nothing to fight against. And I’d say that like every person in the world that has so many different elements to them. I think that’s what we’re going to find with the Red Queen that there’s so much to her. Yeah, she’s bad and she kind of likes it. She’s like, “Yeah, I can do that.” Yeah, she’s bad.
Who does the Red Queen interact most often in Wonderland?
A lot of my scenes are with the character of Jafar, played by Naveen Andrews, which is the most fun and most of my scenes are with him. And, I have a lot of scenes with the White Rabbit, which is obviously really interesting to do, because you’re acting to a blue pole. So that’s been an interesting and suddenly new learning experience.
The scenes with the Red Queen and Jafar are one of the fantastic things about the series.We have the elements of make believe and fairy tale world where we’ve brought Jafar into the Wonderland format and suddenly it’s two characters sparking off each other. And, I think we’ll get to see that there’s a kind of a real partnership between the two characters.
Are they allies?
Yes, in terms of the Alice in Wonderland theme, their relationship is like a constant game of chess. And, they are always trying to outsmart and outmove the other, but they do need each other. It’s quite an interesting relationship.
What is the Red Queen’s relationship with Alice?
It’s really interesting because you’ll see throughout the series, I don’t have a lot of interaction with Alice. To the Red Queen, it’s a game to her. Alice is just another person in the game of what she wants to achieve. It’s not necessarily a vendetta against Alice.
Alice is just an annoyance, really, and standing in her way and she’s quite blase about that. That’s an interesting thing as well. It’s not necessarily like the Queen of Hearts which wants to destroy Alice. She’s not her main concern. She has a much bigger thing to achieve.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland airs Thursdays at 8 pm ET on ABC.
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(Image courtesy of the ABC.)