'Once Upon a Time' star Elizabeth Mitchell spills scoop on the Snow Queen
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday’s episode of Once Upon a Time.
The Snow Queen has arrived!
During Sunday’s episode of Once Upon a Time, a chill continued to hang over Storybrooke—but Elsa (Georgina Haig) wasn’t to blame when Maid Marian (Christine Laing) suddenly turned to ice. Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Charming (Josh Dallas) discovered that the real culprit worked at the local ice cream parlor, thanks to the help of cunning thief Will Scarlet (Michael Socha).
But Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and Elsa found the source first, discovering the Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell) in the middle of the woods, tinkering with some sort of mini ice castle. The Snow Queen admitted that she was framing Elsa to prove a point—every “normal” person would eventually look at her as a monster. Then SQ attempted to kill Hook to prove her point, but Emma and David arrived in time to save the day.
Surprisingly, SQ actually knows both Emma and Elsa from their pasts, though both of them are unaware of that fact. The Emma connection remains to be seen, but Elsa and SQ first crossed paths when Hans (Tyler Jacob Moore) set out to locate a magical urn that would capture Elsa. However, when he went to use it, SQ came spilling out. She promptly turned Hans into a popsicle and found a kinship with Elsa: She’s apparently Elsa’s aunt! We say “apparently” because, honestly, can she really be trusted? EW turned to Mitchell to find out.
How did you joining the show come about?
I always go to that fan site of mine, only because I feel like they know what’s going on before I do. [Laughs] They said something about “Elizabeth Mitchell being considered for Frozen part,” and I was like, “That doesn’t make sense. That’s not really age appropriate.” Then I got a call saying that [executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis] are wondering, if this role came about, would I be interested in doing it? I was like, “Yes!” My manager was like, “Give it some thought.” “I did, yes.” I played really hard to get, obviously. Then [Adam and Eddy] called me and they were so excited about it. We had such a great talk about villains, which I can’t really go into because it has to do with what happens [on the show]. My whole theory has always been that villains never know they are villains. That seems to be the case here, even though she does some crazy stuff. It’s been really fun.
How much did they actually tell you about where this character is going and what her motivations are?
I feel like they told me quite a bit. Like with Lost, I had a feeling about it. My hunches were usually right. We’re just about to shoot the last episode of the arc, and it’s really fun. It’s super fun.
Does the Snow Queen have an actual name?
I don’t think she has a name yet.
The Snow Queen appears to know Emma from her past. Is there anything you can say about their connection?
I know that everyone thinks it might be negative, so Emma must think that. I can say it’s surprising, but I can’t really [say much] because it’s so much a part of the whole thing. It’s one of those ones where it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, and it does mean a lot to both of them—which is fun because I like spending time with Jennifer. She’s awesome. It’s important, and it’s big, and it has a lot to do with the mythology of things, which I love.
Emma appears to be stronger than the Snow Queen. Is this something the Snow Queen should be worried about?
Worried about Emma’s powers? Well, sure, Emma is very powerful. But I think, at this point in time, we’re dealing with a pretty powerful lady in the Snow Queen. She might have a little more up her sleeve than we think. However, I think Emma’s raw power is possibly stronger than the Snow Queen’s—possibly, we’ll see. She’s had a lot longer to figure it out.
Rumple comes across the Snow Queen at the end of the episode—
That definitely continues.
He says he’s sorry that things didn’t work out the way she wanted yet. Can you hint at her motivations?
She’s motivated by a very honorable, true thing. It’s just going to be different than what you might expect. She’s definitely got her issues. She’s motivated by very strong emotions. Everything is very, very personal. She’s not someone who is in any way arbitrary.
Might she team up with Rumple to get what she wants?
I wouldn’t say team up. Especially in the beginning, they definitely have something going on, but it seems to be a camaraderie, which then shifts. I can’t tell you which way it shifts, but it definitely shifts. We have a really good time together. Those are some of my favorite scenes.
She has so far told Elsa that she’s her aunt, and also that Anna is the one who locked Elsa in the urn. Can we trust anything the Snow Queen says?
She is kind of a villain, you know? I don’t trust her. I think her motivations seem shady. She also seems a little unhinged. I, myself, am a terrible liar, if that gives you any kind of a hint. Maybe not at this moment. Although, it might be that some of the things, if not all of the things, she’s saying are true.
Would you describe her as manipulative?
I definitely think she’s manipulative, but she’s manipulative towards a goal that may or may not be positive. Definitely, absolutely she is. But whether she’s manipulating for good or for evil remains to be seen. She’s definitely trying to steer people down a path. Is a path of destruction? Is it a path of love? I don’t know. [Laughs]
Elsa and the Snow Queen have a connection in the past, though Elsa doesn’t remember. Can you tease what’s in store for this storyline?
There are some interesting things that happen with Elsa and the Snow Queen, but it involves other people as well.
In the present day, we saw the Snow Queen messing with some sort of CGI mini ice castle. Is that going to come back into play?
That was totally real. Wasn’t that pretty? That was my first day. That’s when I decided that the Snow Queen was barefoot. Everyone was like, “You can’t make the Snow Queen barefoot.” I’m like, “Have you seen me walk? I’m a gazelle in galoshes. Yes, the Snow Queen is barefoot, otherwise I’ll be tripping over everything.” So, we put her barefoot in the snow and it’s been so much fun. She was making something pretty that made her smile. It was a little frivolous thing. It may be that it’s a precursor for something else, or it may not be. At the moment that it happens, it’s just something that’s quite lovely she thought would be pretty. With everyone searching for her and her world crumbling around her, she’ll just make a little dollhouse ice castle. Wouldn’t you? [Laughs]
Are we going to get a glimpse at when the Snow Queen first landed in Storybrooke?
Maybe. The way that they did it was so different from the way I thought it was going to go. That’s an excellent assumption. She’s fascinating to me. To get to where she is, they’re going to do what they always do. They’re going to make us understand why she is who she is. That’s the journey they go on. She’s going to possibly cause some friction. The hows and whys of it are the essential parts of the story. They’ve made every villain absolutely fascinating. The Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) is one of my favorite characters. I love watching her. It’s so fun how they’ve taken this person who can’t possibly be saved and made her into one of our heroines.
Is that the case with the Snow Queen? Do you think she is redeemable?
For the first four episodes, I really did feel that she probably wasn’t redeemable. So I’m very interested to hear what you think on that. I felt the same way with the Evil Queen, so I honestly think they can do pretty much anything. It may be the first time in history that we have a purely evil villain, but it also may not be.
Well, it does look like she killed off Hans in her very first episode.
But Hans is a bad guy. You can’t blame her for that. I feel like that was a public service, really. She was trying to do something nice. She froze him, but he didn’t break into a million pieces. I feel like until we have that definitive thing, you just never know.
Does her appearance have anything to do with the Fantasia hat?
I have no idea. I mean, I do know, but I definitely can’t say anything. It’s a very cool hat. It’s possible I’ve held it in my hands, but it’s also possible I haven’t. [Laughs] I’m sorry! It’s worse than Lost. On Lost, there were things I could talk about, but here I can’t even really tell you who I’m acting with, why I’m doing it, where we’re going to go with it—because it all just wraps up into the same thing.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Once Upon a Time
Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.