Once Upon a Time star Amy Manson on Merida’s Brave quest
Once Upon a Time’s brave lass is about to take a deadly turn during Sunday’s episode.
With the Dark Swan (Jennifer Morrison) in possession of her heart, Merida (Amy Manson) will take an unconventional route in making Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) less of a coward by targeting Belle (Emilie de Ravin) — though, as it will be revealed on Sunday, the two share a past in Camelot. Will Belle be able to help Merida save her family? EW caught up with Manson to get the scoop on what’s next, including whether Merida’s team-up with Mulan (Jamie Chung) and Red (Meghan Ory) could be the answer to this:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s talk about how you landed the role. Had you seen Brave yet?
AMY MANSON: No, I actually hadn’t, believe it or not. I hadn’t seen the movie. Initially, when the sides came through, the synopsis wasn’t Merida. The name was Evanna, and she was coming into the show as Rumplestiltskin’s mother. The scenes that I got really were similar to a few of the scenes in the animation Brave. I put my own spin on it and my own take, and labored on the pain of a mother-daughter relationship more so. I sent those tapes away and then Eddy [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] got back to me and said, “Can you do the scenes again, but with humor?” Then I did those tapes and sent those back and then here I am.
Did you know how to shoot a bow and arrow at the time?
No. I’ve never shot bow and arrow in my life. Actually, they flew me over quite quickly for San Diego Comic-Con, to do the promo. I got a bow and arrow stuffed in my hands, like, “Right, on you go,” quite quick. I had about an hour before we shot that with an archer. Then I requested if I could have maybe a couple days with proper archery lessons, which really helped and I thoroughly enjoyed.
Turning to where we’re picking up with Merida in Camelot, what can you tease of this journey she’s going on with Belle on Sunday?
Merida kidnaps Belle for a reason which you will find out in Sunday’s episode. She requires Belle’s help to help her in her quest to save her brothers, who have been kidnapped by the united clans of DunBroch, because they’re unsure if Merida can actually lead, being a woman on her own. Merida takes Belle on this journey to DunBroch, and Belle ends up saying, “Yes, I’ll come and help you.” You find out the reason why she’s willing to help Merida. They go on this mission, and it’s whether they do manage to save her brothers or not really in Sunday’s episode.
Do Merida and Belle find a friendship between them?
Yes, they absolutely do. Not initially. It takes a long time on the journey to DunBroch, and to actually find where the clans are keeping the brothers captive. But by the end of it, Merida and Belle strike a friendship, absolutely.
In Storybrooke, Merida is being forced to make Rumple brave and targets Belle. What can you tease?
Obviously she doesn’t know what’s ensued in DunBroch. Dark Swan has taken Merida’s heart, and is controlling her to make Rumple brave. She goes and gets the cup and uses that. By the end of the episode, she’s needing something stronger, so she goes on the journey of using Belle against Rumple.
Is that hard for her to do?
Yeah. After striking this friendship — she doesn’t know about the friendship while in Storybrooke — she’s just under Emma’s control, so the two worlds never meet.
We’re going to be meeting her parents. What can you tease of their relationship these days, and maybe what we’ll see of how her father died?
That’s on Nov. 15, episode 9, “The Bear King,” and it’s taking off maybe 10 years after the film Brave. She’s got a great, strong friendship with her mother, and also with her father. Episode 9 actually goes in flashbacks from present day DunBroch, and then back to before her dad was killed. We find out during episode 9 why and who killed her father.
And she’ll be teaming up with Red and Mulan in an upcoming episode. How does she know them and what sort of relationship do they have?
Mulan and Merida are similar characters in that sense, very strong women who fight for what they believe in. You’ll find out how she’s met Mulan in flashbacks in that episode 9. She’s actually known Mulan for quite a number of years. And then, in the present day, she goes to speak to Mulan and asks for her help on another journey.
Given that the show is going to be exploring an LGBT relationship at some point, and given that Merida didn’t want to get married in Brave, is there a possibility there could be more between Mulan and Merida?
Absolutely not. I was actually on Instagram the other day and there were some of the fans discussing that. It’s better just to say what I know about that. But there’s talk within the episode of a past relationship, like you said, but not for my character.
Merida has mentioned before that she has a darkness within her. Will we see that come out more in ensuing episodes?
It is in episode 9, because that journey is her avenging her father’s killer, so in that sense, she goes to a lot of other places to find who killed her father. It’s just what she does to that person, really, is maybe a dark side of Merida, but nothing like the Dark Swan, nothing in that mental state.
Does she see any good within the Dark Swan?
Oh, in episode 9, she repeats something that Emma has taught her before, so yeah absolutely. What Emma said to Merida is having an affect on her because she repeats some of her lines from previous episodes.
What surprised you most about Merida?
The fact that she just never gives up. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She is that Brave character. She’s a warrior, but she does it for the love of her family. She does what’s right. She’ll always do that over being mean to anyone. And I guess maybe her heart and her spirit.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.