Exclusive! The showrunners for ''Once Upon a Time'' spill secrets about their upcoming ''Frozen'' story line (alas, no Olaf)

When Once Upon a Time producers asked their parent company, Disney, for permission to use characters from its 2013 animated megahit Frozen on their ABC fairy-tale mash-up this fall, they expected a chilly response. But Disney let the characters go (let it goooo!), and now fans of both the film and the show are excited — and maybe a tad nervous. Reimagining dusty Disney icons such as Prince Charming is one thing, but Frozen is red-hot — the highest-grossing animated film of all time, with a possible sequel in the works. What is Once planning to do with Disney’s newly crowned royalty, Queen Elsa and Princess Anna? Showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz insist that capturing a faithful live-action version of Frozen‘s heroines is their top priority. And relax: There’s no big character twist (like when the series turned Peter Pan into a villain). ”We want to do our best to honor what fans loved about that movie,” Horowitz says. (The Frozen story line will be introduced in this fall’s season 4 premiere and will conclude midway through the season — so these toys are ”going back on the shelf,” the producers say, once this arc is over.)

The arc will not include a love interest for Elsa, a character praised for giving young fans a Disney Princess with an independent streak. Nor are the producers going to try pulling off a live-action incarnation of chatty snowman Olaf. ”His story in the movie is so beautiful, the story we want to tell doesn’t involve trying to expand upon that, nor do we think it should,” Horowitz says. And there won’t be any musical elements from the film. So what are the producers planning? Newcomer Elizabeth Lail was cast as adorkable Anna, Greek vet Scott Michael Foster as her love interest Kristoff, Fringe alum Georgina Haig as Anna’s ice-wielding sister, Elsa, and Lost veteran Elizabeth Mitchell as…well, Mitchell’s role is a mystery, but the producers say one of the top two fan theories is correct. (She’s either the original Snow Queen or Anna and Elsa’s mother, who was presumed dead in the film.)

Like Frozen, the show will focus on the relationship between Elsa and Anna, and explore the idea that you never give up on the people you love. ”At the end of the day,” Kitsis says, ”this is really expensive fan fiction.”

  • Movie
  • 95 minutes
  • Xiaoshuai Wang