Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis Talk ONCE UPON A TIME, Why the Wicked Witch Wants Vengeance, Her Backstory, Glinda, and the L. Frank Baum Books

     March 16, 2014


After having put their differences aside to work together and save the day, the fairy tale characters from the ABC drama series Once Upon a Time are now facing a new threat, in the form of the Wicked Witch of the West (Rebecca Mader).  With Captain Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) having successfully jogged Emma Swan’s (Jennifer Morrison) memory, which had been wiped clean in order to save the residents of Storybrooke, she must once again help her fairy tale family and friends out of a desperate situation.  The show also stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Emilie de Ravin, Michael Raymond-James, Jared S. Gilmore and Robert Carlyle.

During this recent interview to discuss what’s to come for the remainder of this season, showrunners Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis talked about why the Wicked Witch wants vengeance, how much we’ll learn about her backstory, what type of Glinda (Sunny Mabrey) we’ll see, that they’ll be hitting on a number of touchstones from the L. Frank Baum books, the journey for Henry to get his memory back, how Neal is dealing with his grief over Emma and Henry, where Emma’s heart is at when it comes to Neal and Hook, where things are at for Belle, an upcoming flashback to a young Cora (Rose McGowan), how disappointed they were not to be able to get Jamie Dornan to return this season, and just how much of a mystery Snow White’s pregnancy will turn out to be.  Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.

Once-Upon-A-Time-Adam Horowitz-Edward-KitsisQuestion:  What vengeance is the Wicked Witch looking for, with Regina? 

ADAM HOROWITZ:  The vengeance that she wants to enact is exactly what we’re going to get into, in the next episodes.  

EDWARD KITSIS:  When we learn more about the Wicked Witch and her backstory and what happened, we’ll understand that what she has against Regina is a global problem and an internal problem.  We can tease that those two are definitely going to get into it. 

When will we get that backstory?

HOROWITZ:  That backstory is doled out.  You will certainly learn more in the next episodes. 

KITSIS:  You’ll learn more in every episode.  What we were excited about for this second half [of the season] is that we’re flashing back to the year that was.  In every episode, we’re unloading this mystery of what happened, who cursed them, and who this crazy green woman is.  We’ll reveal her origin story in Episode 16, which is entitled “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” 

Is the Wicked Witch Elphaba? 

KITSIS:  She is not.  Her name is Zelena, and she is our own creation.  

Will the Oz story be as big of a part of the story, in the second half, as Neverland was, in the first half?

HOROWITZ:  It’s very different, in its conception.  The Wicked Witch is a big part of the second half, and she’s a driving force, as an antagonist.  You will see Oz, and we will spend a little bit of time there, but it’s not that everybody gets on a ship and goes there.  

KITSIS:  Once again, we’ll be in Storybrooke, and then flashing back to the Enchanted Forest, and also Oz, for an episode or two.  The Wicked Witch is the driving force and the mystery.  The idea is to treat both halves as a season.  Neverland started in the premiere, and then we ended it.  The same thing for this.  The Wicked Witch story will play out in these next episodes. 

Will there be a nod to the yellow brick road? 

HOROWITZ:  Oh, yeah.

Will Christopher Gorham be back?

KITSIS:  Perhaps. 

When will we meet Glinda?

HOROWITZ:  We will meet her in this half of the season, in the latter half of this run of episodes.  We’ve cast Sunny Mabrey as Glinda, and we’re very, very excited to have her join our world. 

once-upon-a-timeWhat’s your take on Glinda?

KITSIS:  She’s still Glinda, the Good Witch, in the sense that she’s positive and she has a lot of spirit to her.  But the mythology of the four witches, we created on our own. 

HOROWITZ:  Unlike the Glinda of the movie, who appears in a bubble and is pure goodness, our Glinda is pure goodness, but she’s a character who you’ll see has gone through a lot more.

How wicked is the Wicked Witch?

KITSIS:  She’s pretty wicked, when she is the Wicked Witch.   

HOROWITZ:  The more you see of her, the less you’re going to be using words like “nice.”  

KITSIS:  She does some things that are distasteful, but she does it with style, which all our witches do.  

HOROWITZ:  We love Rebecca [Mader].  We worked with her on Lost, and we thought of her for this part.  She’s brought her own unique spin to this character, and it’s been a collaboration to create this new Wicked Witch. 

KITSIS:  It’s really fun because she’s brought her own vibe to it and spin on it.  In the scenes between her and Regina, you really see the difference.  It’s two great actors, bringing two different things to it.  

What sort of relationship will Glinda and Zelena have, and is all of this post-Dorothy?

HOROWITZ:  Those are excellent questions.  

KITSIS:  We will definitely see some iconic friends from Oz, and their relationship is actually going to be explored in a couple of episodes.           

HOROWITZ:  A lot of the big touchstones from Baum’s books are hit, and we try to do our own spin on them.  Hopefully, there are some fun surprises and interesting takes on that world, that involved the people you’ve mentioned in our Once Upon A Time way.  

Will Henry get his memory back?

KITSIS:  That is something that is important.  He is the heart of the truest believer.  So, to see the guy who started this whole thing by reading a book and believing it was real, not have his memories, is something we’re going to play with.  Of course, certain people, like Regina, would love for his memories to come back right away, but if you were maybe thinking you were happier in New York, maybe you’re not in such a rush to wake him up.  

HOROWITZ:  The road to whether he gets his memory back or not will be a complicated one that is not as simple as somebody concocting a potion. 

once-upon-a-timeKITSIS:  The emotional character view of it is about what is best for him.  He has two mothers, and Emma has been really reluctant to embrace this life.  Where their home is, is going to be a big question for the rest of the season.  

HOROWITZ: These false memories that were put in Henry, at the end of the first half of the season, that allowed him to be in New York with Emma were good and happy memories, and that intervening year was all real.  Everything they went through was real, and Henry had a pretty good year.  That’s something that really complicates things for everyone. 

Where will things go with the relationship between Hook and Henry? 

KITSIS:  They’re quite a team together.  We will see more of Hook interacting with Henry.  We went dark on Neverland, just because it was Heart of Darkness to us.  These episodes are a little lighter and more wicked.  It’s more deliciously fun.  But we’ll still have the things that people love about this show, which is heavy emotion and magic.  There are definitely some dark episodes, coming up.  

HOROWITZ:  While the stakes will be super high, there will be some fun, as well. 

How is Neal dealing with his grief over losing Emma and Henry?

KITSIS:  Not well.  In a lot of ways, he finds himself in a similar position that his father did.  He’s stuck in a land and needs to get back to the people he loves.  The question is, will he follow the same path.  Rumple was willing to curse everybody to get what he wanted.  Neal, up until this point, has been a really moral center for his dad.  So, we’ll see what path he goes down.  

Where is Emma’s heart at now, with Hook and Neal?

HOROWITZ:  Emma has got a lot to deal with.  In addition to those guys, she’s drawn back into a newly cursed Storybrooke with a son who doesn’t have his memories.  Her heart is all over the place.  Her priorities are her family, and saving them.  

KITSIS:  In a lot of ways, Emma started the season feeling like an orphan.  She didn’t want to have magic.  She didn’t want this to be her life.  In New York, she enjoyed that life.  The second half of the season is really going to force Emma to make a decision about what she wants to do with her future.  She can’t continue to hedge. 

With Rumplestiltskin gone, where does that leave Belle?

HOROWITZ:  It’s safe to say there is a significant story that involves Neal and Belle. And Belle’s storyline, in the present, is going to reflect what you see us explore, in the past.  In addition, we’re going to be seeing some more iconography from Belle’s story, in the form of Lumière, the candle, who is going to be showing up pretty soon. 

KITSIS:  The other thing with Belle is that we love how she’s a book worm who wanted to actually experience adventure, and this year, you’re going to see her start seeing her coming into her own by using her brain.  She is the hero that will reach for a book, or use her intelligence more than a sword. 

HOROWITZ:  The thing we love about Belle is that she’s smart, and she can take care of herself and she’s resourceful.  All of those qualities come into play, as the story unfolds. 

once-upon-a-timeAt what point will we find out whether Rumpelstiltskin is still alive?

HOROWITZ:  In the next episode.  

Are you done with Peter Pan, for good?

KITSIS:  I wouldn’t say for good.  This season, yes. 

Are there any more flashbacks coming?

KITSIS:  Only for a couple episodes, when they are origin stories.  We’re going to get Zelena’s origin story, and we’re going to get a your Cora, played by Rose McGowan, backstory. 

Are you disappointed that Jamie Dornan is too busy to return, now that he’s got 50 Shades of Grey?

HOROWITZ:  We love Jamie.  We’re so happy for him.                         

KITSIS:  To be honest, we’d like to take credit for it.  No.  We are his biggest fans.  When I was driving on Santa Monica Blvd. the other day and saw a building with Jamie looking out a window, I thought, “Fantastic!”  

HOROWITZ:  We’re very, very happy for him.  We’d love to have him, if he ever wanted to come back, but he is quite busy right now, and rightfully so.  He’s very talented.  

KITSIS:  Last year, when he did “Welcome to Storybrooke” for us, it was fantastic to have him come back.  He’s a friend of ours, and he’s a friend of the show.  Unfortunately, this year, he went right from the movie to The Fall.  Because they were shooting in Vancouver, we were hoping.

HOROWITZ:  His part was always conceived as that seven-episode arc, in the first season, with the hope that we could bring him back, here and there.  But, it’s gratifying that everyone has seemed to have responded so well to his talent.  

KITSIS:  The minute we saw Jamie, we loved him and thought, “That’s the guy.” 

once-upon-a-timeWhat had you wanted him to do, if you could have got him this season?

HOROWITZ:  We can’t really say because that would be a big spoiler. 

KITSIS:  Ask us that after the finale, and then we will tell you exactly what we wanted to do and you will be so bummed that we didn’t get to do it.  

HOROWITZ:  We miss him, dearly. 

What can viewers expect from Robin Hood and Regina?

HOROWITZ:  You’re going to see them meet, in the next episode.  Whether true love happens or works out or not, it’s going to be a very interesting road that they will travel together. 

For the flashback to Snow White’s father, how will that play into the story?

HOROWITZ:  We’re going to see the Snow White family, in the early years.  We’ll see a little bit of King Leopold when he was younger.  We’re going to see how there were some interactions between him and some of the other characters, that you may or may not have expected him to interact with. 

KITSIS: The fun of these stories is that, now that we’ve had two and a half years, you’ve had a taste of all the characters, so we can dig a little deeper.  We’re going to understand a little more about King Leopold when he was a prince.  We’re going to get a little more insight into his side of the family and Snow’s side of the family. 

HOROWITZ:  We’re also going to learn a bit more about Snow’s mother.

What can you say about the introduction of Blackbeard?

KITSIS:  I can say that he does not shower very much.  He is a pirate, through and through.  He and Captain Hook do not have a lot of love for each other.  The only thing that two pirates would fight over, even more than a woman, would be a ship. 

Can they still do magic in this newly cursed Storybrooke? 

KITSIS:  Yes.  

once-upon-a-timeIs everyone there?

KITSIS:  Everyone who’s not dead.  If you’re dead, you’re not there.  

HOROWITZ:  Everything that happened during the previous curse has still happened.  

KITSIS:  But, there may be some new people.  You never know who will show up.  

HOROWITZ:  In that first curse, there were certain protected areas, and people that didn’t make it over.  This time, there may be some other people who have come over.

Since she has no memory of how it happened, is Snow White’s pregnancy a mystery?

HOROWITZ:  It’s Charming’s.  But that said, there is a lot to be discovered about what happened, in that intervening year.

Once Upon A Time airs on Sunday nights on ABC.

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