It’s late into one of the final days of production on Once Upon a Time and Rose Reynolds and Tiera Skovbye are singing. No, there isn’t a secret musical in the series finale. The duo are soaking in every magical memory they can, belting “Just the Two of Us” in the middle of a massive green screen soundstage between takes.
It’s a fitting song for Alice (Reynolds) and Robin (Skovbye). The legacy characters — the daughter of Wish Realm Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and the daughter of Zelena (Rebecca Mader), respectively — were torn apart by a curse until recently, now on a desperate mission to Storybrooke to find assistance in saving their families.
While the characters have been on the show such a short while — Reynolds joined at the top of the season, with Skovbye following by midseason — they have swiftly become beloved fan-favorites, giving hope to the LGBT community as Once really delved deep into their emotional love story. Below, the actresses discuss what being part of this show has meant to them.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the final week of filming, how are you feeling?
ROSE REYNOLDS: I’m completely new. It didn’t really hit me, the impact of this show, until I went to Steveston, [British Columbia], and we filmed those two days and we had people coming out to see it and everything. But even just having Gold’s Pawn Shop there and [being on] the street that I saw in the pilot, that is when it really hit home for me that this is a big deal and this show is epic. Working with Ginny [Goodwin] and Josh [Dallas] today as well has just hammered that home even more.
TIERA SKOVBYE: Well, it’s been kind of crazy with the old world and the new generation coming together. It’s been surreal. Part of that, for me, is listening to Lana and everybody who’s been here before being like, “What is happening?” It’s really cool for us to work with some of the original cast and people who were here in the pilot.
What does it mean to you to have had strong female characters like Alice and Robin on TV?
REYNOLDS: It’s a huge deal. I love that it’s so feminist, and it’s so heavily female-orientated, and female friendships are a massive thing as well, which is really great. Also, to be representing Alice as well, who is nowhere near perfect, to play someone who can be bonkers, who can be slightly off-kilter, or — for lack of a better word — ugly or raw, that is something that is really interesting and refreshing, so I really enjoyed playing that.
SKOVBYE: It really is awesome. Being a blond, blue-eyed girl, there’s a lot of chances to be typecast as the pretty high school cheerleader, and so the opportunity to play a character that is the female version of Robin Hood, and what that represents, is so cool and I’m so honored to be able to bring that for girls to be able to see. I’m really happy.
What has it meant to you to play these characters?
REYNOLDS: A lot. It’s meant that I can just not worry about making mistakes in a way. With her, there’s no wrong answer, because she’s making it up, where she’s trying to figure stuff out as well. So to play someone who’s figuring things out as she goes along is really liberating, to play someone like that has been really interesting and exciting, really.
SKOVBYE: Robin is really coming into her own. I feel like, for me, it’s about being honest and standing up for what is right and what is true, standing up against bullies, and also just being there for other people, which is not happening a lot in the world right now.
What’s been a poignant fan interaction you’ve had since joining the show?
REYNOLDS: The main comments that people have told me in connection with Alice is this feeling of being invisible. People have reached out to me and said, “I felt invisible my whole life.” Her interactions with Weaver, with Rogers, she’s going, “You’re not listening to me, no one’s listening to me.” One piece that people have kind of taken away from Alice and her story is that not feeling listened to, and I love seeing that represented on screen, and seeing her be positive through that and continue to maintain this positivity and optimism through struggle, through obstacle. They say they relate to that a lot and that means a lot to me, that you don’t have to be invisible, you can keep striving and be seen eventually.
SKOVBYE: There’s been a couple moments where they’ll be like, to me and Rose, “Thank you for being the lesbian couple on the show,” and like, “Thank you for taking that on. Thank you for giving us that character and that love story, because it’s not often done.” It’s getting more normal and more done on TV, but I think for this show, for them to see that and for people to respond so well to it, and to love our love story so much, has been just so cool. I love it so much, just to know that other people love it just as much is really cool.
What do you think Once Upon a Time‘s legacy will be?
REYNOLDS: It’s hope, optimism, love, rooting for the underdog. I think that’s something I felt a lot with Alice, and Tilly in particular, is that underdog feeling. Being a new person to the series this year, I’ve been a team player, like, “I don’t know what’s going on, you’ve all been here before me. Can you show me the ropes? Can you help me?” It’s that thing of people working together, hope, optimism, and kind of paving the way. It doesn’t end with Once Upon A Time, I don’t think. This show has been a part of people’s lives for seven years and will continue to carry on being like that. I think it just won’t stop when the series wraps on Friday and when it airs in May. It will just continue to keep going, which is really great.
SKOVBYE: I don’t think it’ll ever go away. Fairy tales don’t go away, everybody still tells the tales of Robin Hood and Alice in Wonderland and Snow White and Prince Charming. Once Upon a Time has so much of that original fairy tale essence to it that I think it’ll just always be one of those shows that is timeless.
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Can you talk about the importance of sending the message that anyone can have a happy ending?
REYNOLDS: Well, Lana [Parrilla’s] got a line in this episode. It’s one of her final lines in the whole series and it’s something like, “What about a second chance?” Especially with Lana’s character, with Regina, it’s that redemption story of becoming bad into good and finding redemption, which I think is a massive, massive thing. Finding your happy ending is a tricky one for me, because I believe in happy endings, but I also believe in not resolving everything. I think there’s something to be said with not ticking all the boxes, because as an actor if you tick all the boxes, you’re done. You go home, you retire. If you’re still discovering things and you’re still inventing and you’re still finding adventure and your story keeps on going and you keep getting faced with new obstacles, that’s what’s exciting.
SKOVBYE: It’s really important. What this show does really well is, it also doesn’t make things unrealistic. There has been loss and there has been heartbreak in the show, but in the end — and Regina talks a lot about this — there will be loss, and there will be heartbreak, but in the end there’s always family, and there’s always love, and you can always find a way to be happy. Even if you lose somebody in your life, new people will come that you never expected to come in to show you something new about your life, and to show you new love and new opportunities and second chances. I think that’s really important in a world that can be kind of heartbreaking at times. To know that nothing is certain and that the world and your life is ever-changing is really comforting.
If you could open a new chapter of Once Upon a Time 10 years later, what would you want it to be about?
REYNOLDS: Tiera and I were talking about this actually. We want to make it about our children, so it’s the next generation. It would be so interesting if Margot and Tilly have a kid and what that kid means for us, and if Henry and Jacinda have another kid or what if Lucy has a kid? I want to see the generations coming through, and what Once Upon A Time means to them, and how their story might be different, or the similarities between the generations might play out. That would be really interesting.
Do you have a new affinity for fairy tales after being on OUAT?
REYNOLDS: Yes. Yes, very much so. You grew up with them, you love them to pieces, but seeing a princess wield a sword and seeing battles and seeing romance and seeing real people, it’s been really great. What I love about this new fairy tale is that you get the fairy tale, but you get real world. You get to relate a bit more to the real world character, but then escape into fairy tale.
What’s been your favorite moment for your characters?
REYNOLDS: I always think of my Day 1, Scene 1, which was jumping out at Andrew West from the dumpster. That will always be a massive thing for me. Also, either something from episode 4 or episode 14, working with Bobby or working with Tiera and the troll. Maybe it’s actually something with the troll — actually my favorite moment is the troll soliloquy at the end, saying goodbye to my childhood. That was a massive, massive thing for me.
SKOVBYE: I really loved “The Girl in the Tower” episode, where we’re introduced to how Alice and Robin meet. There’s a lot of really sweet scenes, especially the one in the cave, where she picks the pin out of Alice’s hair and breaks open the lock. I love that scene because you get a glimpse into what her real life actually was, and that maybe she’s not as confident as she seems, but at the end, she surprises you like, “Nope, I’m out of here.” It was a special scene, but how they come together at the end and find common ground and a special connection between the two was amazing.
How do you feel about the ending for Alice and Robin?
REYNOLDS: It’s unresolved for her and Robin’s story.
SKOVBYE: I love that me and Rose got to be a part of this ending that’s has everybody coming together and it’s so cool to be here. Even the scene we’re shooting right now with the war room, we’re there with Snow White and Prince Charming. We’re part of helping fight this curse and I just think that’s so cool.
What was it like having the final love story of the show?
REYNOLDS: Is it? I’m not sure about that. It’s big. To be a part of that and something that’s so progressive and should’ve happened a long time ago, it’s something I’m really proud to be a part of. Tiera and I just looked at each other and said, “There’s Josh Dallas, there’s Ginny, why are we here? They’re going to find us out.” The fact that we’re still here until the very bitter end is something that is so profound for us, so we’re super lucky.
SKOVBYE: It’s something that I don’t think quite hit me until these final last days, where it was like Lana, Colin, and Bobby and me and Rose being like, “We’re here at the end with a lot of the main characters that have been there from the beginning.” Being a part of something that was so special and so big for so many seasons, and being here at the end to wrap it up, is beyond special. I never expected that when I started. I was only told I was going to be in three episodes, so be here at the end with Rose, and have our love story mean so much, is just incredible. It’s the best.
Did you talk to Josh and Ginny, comparing notes about the love stories?
REYNOLDS: Not at all, because theirs is epic, so how could we? But we were talking about how they’ve been through it, they’ve been there from the pilot, and asking them how it feels to be back on the show. They’re going, “It’s like we never left.” It’s a family, just being part of — and now you’re a part of it — is just really great.
SKOVBYE: Our love story doesn’t even compare. It pales in comparison to theirs, but it was amazing being able to work with them and see them, this power couple in real life and on the show, and then Rose and I being here with our story and what that means to the audience is just amazing.
How would you describe the finale?
REYNOLDS: I think there’s something for everyone in the finale. Everybody gets a piece that they can take away from the finale, which is really great and really hard to do. Sometimes you might have someone who’s left wanting a bit more, or longing for this to happen with their characters, but I do believe in the finale that everyone has a piece of what they want, which is really special. Everyone can take away something that’s really personal to them. It’s just that theme of hope and optimism, and again, Lana says something about, there will be love, there will be family, there will be hope, optimism, but there will also be loss and that’s just a way of life. I think they’ll take something that’s real away from it. You do get the idea of fairy tale and it being gorgeous and sparkly and wonderful, but to keep it grounded, to keep it rooted in truth, and I think that’s something that people will take away from it. Hopefully that resonates with them.
SKOVBYE: I don’t think people will be disappointed at all. I think it’s one of those things where there’s people who pop up that you’re like, “Oh my God, it’s them!” which is really cool and really special. I think they wrap it up in a way that is very true to all of the fans that have been such a huge part of making this show possible. People won’t be disappointed and it’ll be heartbreaking because it’s done, but at the same time you’ll be like, “Okay, that was good.”
Anything you can tease about the heroes going up against these final villains?
REYNOLDS: I wasn’t expecting Wish Realm Henry to come into play, because I wasn’t sure if he was alive. I know there’s these Wish Realm characters and you see Pan coming back and you see Bev, who plays Granny, and you see the Blue Fairy. I wasn’t expecting Henry for some reason. When he comes back in the form of Jared [Gilmore] and he’s not a nice guy, that was something that was quite shocking for me to read when I read the script. Wish Rumple coming back, it’s just that thing of redemption. Rumple has come so far and to see him as his old self, it was a bit like, “Dammit.” We were seeing someone go through such a journey to see a mirror of that evilness come back. That was something I wasn’t prepared for.
The powers of the Guardian are gone, but Rumple wasn’t planning to use them anyway because he cares about Alice. Were you surprised by that whole reveal?
REYNOLDS: I kind of wasn’t surprised to be honest, because a lot of my early scenes at the beginning of the season were with Bobby. I felt like we had an affiliation. I kind of knew something was up between the two of us, and I knew he trusted me for some reason, and I didn’t know what that reason was, but there was a connection between us. Originally I thought maybe that Rumple might be my dad. I thought that might play out, but then when it came about that I was the Guardian, I thought, “Oh, now it makes sense. That’s why we’re so connected.” There’s a gorgeous scene in the final few scenes of the final episodes. I know we can’t give it away, but knowing that there is no Guardian anymore because he’s given that up, when I was reading it, my heart was going [fast], but then I know when Bobby plays it, I’ll just be like, “Come on, man. Come on. Oh god, [emotionally] drained.”
Alice and Robin have ventured to Storybrooke to seek help. What can you tease?
REYNOLDS: I do like one shift at the Rollin’ Bayou and then suddenly I’m like, “Peace. I’m gonna steal your truck!” We hijack the truck and we throw the bean, we go through the portal and we arrive in Storybrooke and we find characters. It’s not plain sailing from there. Then we have to go back to Wish Realm and we don’t know how to get there.
SKOVBYE: It is really, really cool, because initially I think we’re going to get there and everyone’s going to be like, “Yes, let’s help,” but we are kind of faced by people who are all very skeptical of newcomers into Storybrooke, which we don’t know anything about. We just assume, and then we’re kind of met by all these weird things that happen, and people and other versions of ourselves and our families, and we’re trying to wrap our heads around it while still being like, “Okay, stick to the mission. Figure out how to get these people to help us.” It’s very confusing, but ultimately it’s like, “Okay, how do we get these people to be on our side and know that we’re trying to help?”
How does Alice react to Storybrooke considering she’s never been in a realm like that before?
REYNOLDS: Well, we’re going through with such hostility, we ruin everyone’s day. The dwarfs are there just going about their lovely business, Granny’s there, and Archie, who is my new favorite person in the whole entire world, he’s such a gorgeous man. They’re going about their business, but things have changed in Storybrooke a little bit. It’s not all rainbows and peace anymore. People are a bit wary because they’ve been attacked before so when we arrive on the scene and we just arrive out of nowhere, they’re cautious about who we are. Also, because we come going, “You know, that isn’t Henry. We’ve got another Henry.” We’re putting all this stuff in their mind. They’re going “You’re crazy,” so it’s again another “Tilly, you’re crazy” situation, but also, “You’re lying and what are you trying to do here? What’s your deal?” No one trusts or believes us.
What can you tease of the final threat the heroes are facing?
REYNOLDS: It’s Henry becoming the ultimate author. We’ve seen it throughout the season of Henry trying to be the writer of his own story and writing his own story, because everyone else has got their own story, but it’s what happens when you’re the author of your story, but your intentions aren’t good and you have the power to write any story you want. What happens if you write bad stories, like bad things to happen to good people, what happens when you have that power, and what happens when it’s misused?
SKOVBYE: It’s one of those things where you can’t really do it without everybody else, and it’s one of these curses that’s like the ultimate loneliness. If the curse goes through, it’s a wrap-up of everything that everybody in Once Upon a Time and in Storybrooke and all the realm’s have been fighting to keep — to keep family and love and hope and everything alive. And if this curse goes through, it just destroys everything they built.
What’s next for you?
SKOVBYE: Actually Rose and I are going to L.A. on Tuesday, we’re going to be living together, which is going to be fun, just down in L.A. auditioning and just seeing what’s next.
REYNOLDS: Life representing art or vice versa… Just gonna see what happens. I need to go home to the U.K. at some point, but to be honest, I’m having so much fun. I said to mum and all the family, “A couple more months, guys.” I’ll try my luck in L.A., because I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ll try my luck and see what happens in L.A. and then go from there, really.
Once Upon a Time’s series finale airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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