Can you tease anything about the cursed versions of your familiar characters?
KITSIS: When we find them in Seattle, they will be under cursed personas.
HOROWITZ: They’re different than the cursed personas we’ve seen before. While it’s Regina that you’ve been with for six seasons, what she is now in Seattle is something different. What it’s allowing us to do is see these same characters in a new way. Also, Hook never had a cursed persona, so this allows us to do something we haven’t done with Hook before.
KITSIS: I would say Regina never had a cursed persona, because she was the Queen and the Mayor, but she was always awake.
GOODMAN: And it’s been really fun as we enter in season 7 with these cursed personas, but seeing how we can reflect these characters that people have known and loved underneath, and see the ways that they’re bubbling through, and we’re seeing who they were, but in this new guise.
HOROWITZ: The situations they find themselves in their cursed identities are different. She’s not going to be the mayor. But you cannot keep Regina down. You cannot keep that spirit away. That character still exists, lives, and breathes, and thrives.
KITSIS: If somebody is coming into Regina’s neighborhood and telling them they’re going to push everyone out, someone has to stand up for the little people and my bet would be that it’s her.
What’s Regina’s mindset when we pick up with Roni? How different is she?
KITSIS: Well, Roni is Regina with the wisdom of six years of the show, so she is tough character, she’s a bartender, she is sticking up for the little people in the neighborhood against the bully, who we’ll realize is Lady Tremaine. At the same respect, all the experiences she’s had going from Evil Queen to Queen [have led to] a mature character. Roni is kind of the Regina who has all those life experiences and maturity and the wisdom that comes with it.
What about for Rumple? We don’t know much about his character.
KITSIS: Well, that’s how he likes it.
Does he have a name?
KITSIS: The name will be revealed in the premiere.
But is he much of the same, somebody that we should be questioning whether we can trust?
KITSIS: Absolutely. We warned you season 1 he was a difficult man to love, but at the same time, he did find true love last year and choose love over power, so we don’t know what we’ll be looking at. I would hope that the growth and everything he fought for wouldn’t be erased. But as we know, that’s the day-to-day fight.
Is Gold still the Dark One?
KITSIS: That is exactly who he is. As we know, you can’t get rid of the dagger. How do you get rid of the dagger?
HOROWITZ: Once a Dark One—
KITSIS: Always a Dark One. That will remain the same.
Let’s talk about Hook’s alter ego.
KITSIS: Rogers. It’s plural. It’s his last name.
Please confirm his first name is not Pauley/Polly/Pauly.
KITSIS: No. Where did that come from? By the way, was someone watching Rocky?
HOROWITZ: We keep hearing that rumor. That is not even remotely correct.
KITSIS: But it kind of sounds awesome.
Because we’ve seen Hook’s transformation from dark to light, much like you’re talking about with Rumple, what kind of cop is Rogers?
KITSIS: He’s a good cop [with] a plate filled with temptation. He is a cop with a very specific mission and a case that has haunted him that he has not solved, and that will be what we’ll be teasing out in the first couple episodes.
Ostensibly cursed Hook doesn’t remember Emma. How do you think that would affect him?
HOROWITZ: Well, we’ve never said who remembers who or not. I don’t want to say anymore.
GOODMAN: There’s an entire episode that’s devoted to answering that question. We’re super excited for people to see it.
KITSIS: That’s episode 2.
What can you tease of Emma’s return?
HOROWITZ: I would say the red jacket is back. Emma returns for one episode and it’s nice.
KITSIS: I would say that we get to find out what has happened with Emma and Hook since our happy ending we showed last year.
HOROWITZ: What we’re not doing is a flashback story where we’re seeing stuff prior to, or during, the previous six seasons. We’re moving forward past the end of season 6, seeing what happened with Emma and Hook, and how it relates to the events in Hyperion Heights.
KITSIS: We will be getting closure on her story in what we feel is a satisfying way.
HOROWITZ: I think it’s an emotional curtain call.
KITSIS: It’s an emotional curtain call.
Are there any other familiar faces we can expect moving forward this season? [Editor’s note: In addition to Morrison, Jared Gilmore will return as a young Henry in the premiere, Emilie de Ravin and Giles Matthey are back as Belle and Gideon, respectively, in the emotional Rumple-centric fourth hour, and Rebecca Mader will reprise her role as Zelena, a.k.a the Wicked Witch, for multiple episodes.]
HOROWITZ: I mean, we hope so and we’re not ready to make any announcements yet.
KITSIS: We would love to see a few people come back this year, absolutely.
Henry calls on his family and the trio shows up. Is there a specific reason why other people didn’t show up?
HOROWITZ: Yes, and that is a reason that is—
KITSIS: Actually shown.
HOROWITZ: It is part of the first few episodes in a major way.
Who is Henry now? Is he jaded like Emma was in season 1?
KITSIS: Yeah, Henry had the heart of the true believer and when we meet him he no longer believes, and it’s up to his daughter — who he doesn’t even realize is his daughter — to help him find his belief again. He is an Uber driver. He wrote one book called Once Upon a Time that we’ll realize has all the stories from the first six seasons, but it did not do well, no one bought it, and he’s a guy that’s kind of down on his luck looking for his place in the world. In the fairy tale, we’re going to tell a very epic love story between him and Cinderella as well as we’re going to see Henry helping out other people.
At the center of the first six seasons was obviously a Savior. We look at Henry as the new hero. Is he a Savior or are you leaning more into just how somebody steps up as a hero?
HOROWITZ: I would say this: The savior and the savior mythology, that was the first six seasons. That was the story we really explored there. We’re telling a new story here, and yeah, Henry and Cinderella are at the center of it, as well as Hook and Rumple and Regina.
KITSIS: I would say that in the first one, Emma needed to come back and break the curse, but what we realized toward the end is it takes a village, and I think that here we are starting with it takes a village approach, but if I was looking toward leadership, I would look for somebody who was both a mayor and a queen.
HOROWITZ: The Savior mythology is something that is super unique to Emma and what her journey was for those six years. Yes, we established there were other Saviors, but that was Emma’s journey. We don’t want to retell the first six seasons, so Henry’s journey is going to be a different one, and it’s going to involve things that are unique to this iteration of the show.
KITSIS: But their motivation is still the same, which is helping people.