Once Upon a Time is undergoing a major overhaul heading into season 7, which means new characters, new locales, and even a new curse. To keep track of all the big changes, EW will bring you interviews with the cast — new and old — along with executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis over the next two weeks until the ABC fairy-tale drama’s return.
If you loved the mystery of a character like Rumplestiltskin during Once Upon a Time‘s first six seasons, well, get ready to meet an even more complex individual in the enigmatic Alice (Rose Reynolds).
A new iteration of the character from Wonderland — though she’s not too pleased if you peg that to her — Alice (Rose Reynolds) is among the new faces coming to the ABC fairy-tale drama in the rebooted seventh season. Known as Tilly in Hyperion Heights, the character has so far been shrouded in mystery, so EW caught up with Reynolds in an attempt to rectify that.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your first day like on set? Were you nervous to join this established show going through a major reboot?
ROSE REYNOLDS: Oh yes, yes. I think maybe it’s best to talk about the read-through before the first day of set. [That’s where] I got to meet Colin and Lana — Bobby wasn’t there — but also all the producers, basically all the people who established the show in the beginning. So I was pretty nervous and also really jet-lagged, so just meeting everybody then was massive. We had a really good read-through and everyone was really nice. Mainly everybody was really excited about this reboot. It’s difficult when you go through a reboot or a change of new ideas and all of that stuff. I know there’s been a bit of apprehension in those who are devoted to such a long-running show, the fans, but it was good to be reassured by the old favorites that this really was a good thing, and there was a real excitement about that day, so the read-through was great.
Had you watched the show? Or did you go back and either watch the show, or watch Wonderland since you’re playing Alice?
Yeah, I’m a fan of the show. I’ve watched the show. My best friend in the whole world is a massive fan of the show. She told me not to touch Colin within three feet, so I’m not allowed to go near him, according to my best friend, [laughs] but I purposely didn’t watch the spin-off. This Alice is, I gather, very different to the original Alice, and so she should be, so I purposely didn’t watch Wonderland just for that, really, because it would be very different.
Tell us about Alice as a person.
She is streetwise. She is a streetwise orphan. She’s got eyes all over Hyperion Heights. She’s stealthy. She’s clever, and she’s very independent, but she’s very enigmatic, so we don’t know a lot about her in the beginning, and she keeps striking up unlikely friendships with Hook and Gold. I think she’s very much on her own terms, so she’ll be friends with you, but you don’t know how long for. As I say, Tilly’s the eyes of Hyperion Heights. She sees everything, and she’s also the source of lots of information for lots of people. We actually meet her in the first episode, but episode 4 is a big one for her.
How do you think this curse is different from what we’ve seen on the show before?
It’s a mixture of non-fairy tale and fairy tales that we have going on. We have a mixture of old faces and now new faces, and also revamped faces. I’m calling this season the fusion. I have just given it that name, and it’s because Adam [Horowitz] and Eddy [Kitsis] are so loyal to the show and its hopes and its themes — the theme of hope and optimism and happy endings — and I think they’re very loyal to that with this season. So I think, yes, it has differences, but it also starts in a very similar vein to the pilot. We’ve now got an adult Henry, and then we’ve got a Lucy instead of an Emma and a Henry, so I think you’ll see mirror images of familiar scenes, but it will be very different in terms of, as always, who is good, who is bad, and what does that even mean? We saw it with Regina, the Evil Queen, she started off bad girl, then she’s bad girl gone good. You never know who’s who in this world. So I think when people watch this, I hope they keep an open mind and they are surprised by the character traits that come out of these people because they’re ever-shifting. In terms of the curse, I think it will be very interesting how these characters develop.
Will we actually get to see her in Wonderland? Are we going to get some flashbacks into her life there?
I would hope so. I hope so. We’ve filmed some fairy tale scenes in flashbacks, whether that was Wonderland or not, I’m not entirely sure, but I hope so, and I hope we see some Wonderland familiar faces coming back, even the White Rabbit. We did film with a white rabbit, I was chasing a white rabbit at one point, but we had to film it separately because it wouldn’t do as it was told. It had one job, it had one directorial note to just jump along the path, and it couldn’t do it. “Okay, let’s wrap Rose, and let’s just have a one to one time with the rabbit.” [Laughs]
What do you think Alice ultimately wants?
This is very evident in a scene we just shot in [episode] 707. She wants to be part of something. She is this loner, she is independent, but she is lonely, and she wants to be a part of something, she wants to feel connected with people, and I think she desperately wants family. I think she’s desperately looking and searching for that. That’s what drives her a lot of the episodes, a lot of the scenes that we’ve been exploring and playing with at the moment. It’s: Where am I and where do I belong? Which I think is such a universal idea that young people, and even old people or middling people, often find. Where do I belong? Where am I now and where am I going and all of this stuff? And it’s scary. For Alice, in particular, it is that sense of who am I, where am I going, and who can I trust? So I think that’s what she wants, she wants someone she can trust, she wants to be a part of something, which is really poignant actually and it’s quite moving to play with. I love her so much. She’s so much fun and she has a lot of heart, this girl, and it’s been a lot of fun just in the seven episodes that we’ve had already with her. I love her. She’s a gem, so I hope people see that in her as well, because I think she means well and she’s on a journey, so let’s see where she ends up.
Once Upon a Time returns Friday at 8 pm. ET. Read our primer of the new season here, our full Q&A with executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis here, our interview with Lana Parrilla here, our interview with Andrew J. West here, our interview with Dania Ramirez here, our interview with Gabrielle Anwar here, our interview with Adelaide Kane here, and our interview with Mekia Cox here. Check back Friday for our interview with Colin O’Donoghue.