Once Upon a Time: Elizabeth Mitchell on What’s Ahead for the Snow Queen
IGN talks to the Once Upon a Time star about the Snow Queen’s past, her glittery costume, and what’s ahead.
Once Upon a Time’s been a chilly place this season. Sure, the fairy tale series is filmed in the not so warm Vancouver, but besides that, the town of Storybrooke has been touched by the world of Frozen.‘s at the heart of the icy storyline as the villainous Snow Queen. She’s manipulating everyone around her to serve one goal: to be loved by her family. That doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world, but the Snow Queen is doing whatever it takes to make Elsa and Emma be on her side regardless of the effects on Storybrooke.
IGN spoke with Mitchell about the character’s demented side, possible redemption, and the full extent of the Snow Queen’s plans.
IGN: One thing that’s interesting about the Snow Queen is that she’s quietly crazy. She doesn’t really raise her voice. What are the challenges of selling her evil side with this approach?
Elizabeth Mitchell: The original challenge was of course, you worry that people think you aren’t doing anything. I had to give a lot of thought to what she had been through. She was a child who killed somebody. It was an accident, but as a deeply empathic child, she kills someone, so she locked herself away. There was no way for her to learn the society rules. Everything was cut short.
And then she was self-aware in an urn for 25-30 years, which of course had to drive her mad. I mean, that had to be what made her mad. But I think like all villains, like all people in life, she thinks she deeply deserves what she’s asking for. She’s on the path to get what it is that she needs. And that’s why it all worked out in a calm fashion, because she deeply feels she’ll get it. So, she’s just one step after the other. There was no need to be, that type of crazy – I mean, she is crazy – but there was no need to have her throw it all around.
IGN: Yes, it seems like she has every step planned and thought out. It’s creepy.
Mitchell: I love that she’s clever that way. Her motivations are that she wants love, and that’s great. The idea that you can make people love you by killing everybody else that they love seems a bit unwise.
IGN: It’s perhaps not the best way to go about it.
Mitchell: Not the best way to go about it. It’s a very interesting thing, the way that she keeps striking this chord. And as someone who goes through life and has had wonderful, loving relationships, you’re like, “Oh come on, you can do this. You actually already have everything you want.” But you know, you can’t talk to them because they’re made up.
IGN: She may be going about getting long the wrong way, but it seems to be working. She pushed Emma’s buttons in the last episode and pushed her into using more magic. Is she at all worried that will come back to bite her since Emma’s powerful?
Mitchell: I don’t think she’s afraid of Emma’s powers just yet; I don’t know that she thinks it will backfire. I guess she believes in her truth so completely that this is what happened, and this is why she is the way that she is. That she thinks that if she re-enacts it all perfectly, that she’s going to have another person like herself on her hands and that she’s the only one who can save said person. And I think she just believes it so deeply that’s where it is. It is really scary, and it is also sad.
IGN: It is sad – especially when we see that the Snow Queen used to be a kind person. Was it difficult to go backwards with her personality and explore that?
Mitchell: It was fascinating to go backwards. It was fascinating to no longer have the control because she just felt like a scared kid. That was really interesting because you can see why she built up the defenses that she had. She went from this lovely, sweet, and not particularly authoritative girl what we see now. I really just felt sad for her. I had a lot of sympathy.
You have to, when you’re playing somebody like this. You can’t really be like, well, “I would never.” You have to say, “What would make me?” That’s generally my couple opening lines for myself when I start a character. Not, “I would never,” but “What would make me? What would make me do this?”
IGN: She’s been planning for so long and has clearly been patient. Will we see more about how she discovered Emma and why she wiped her memories?
Mitchell: Gosh, I really think all of that happens in the next episode [“Smash the Mirror”]. I thought that “The Snow Queen” was going to be the big Snow Queen episode and then we got to the next episode, and I realized, no, that’s the big Snow Queen episode. I got the script for the next one, and I realized there’s so much more to the story. A lot of questions are answered, and you get to see it, which is one of my favorite things about television. Show it, you don’t have us tell it.
And they’ve done that. They’ve taken us and shown us the steps that she went through to get to where she is, and I was so grateful for that. It was really interesting to see and fun and dramatic. I think that all of those questions are going to be shown and evolving in the next episode.
IGN: Once Upon a Time has a few villains who have been redeemed. Regina comes to mind. Do you think that’s a possibility for Ingrid?
Mitchell: I think the way that they write, it’s always possible. Any of these people, it’s almost like you can see that if they just made one different choice, everything would be different. It’s hard to imagine it because the deeper we go into this, it’s only getting worse. But I like to think that almost everyone should be forgiven. There are some things, as a mother, that’s hard for me to say that about, but I do think she could possibly be redeemed. I’m thinking about it and I don’t know if she necessarily killed anyone on purpose yet. So, I do think it’s possible. I think it should happen. I think the writers are so gifted they could pull a rabbit out of a hat on this one.
IGN: The Snow Queen’s dress wardrobe is gorgeous, but I’m curious, is the primary dress comfortable?
Mitchell: That’s a great question. The gold one used to feel very uncomfortable to me. I thought, first of all, it’s highly exposing. Once I got over that, which you do, because you’re in character, it was just about adjusting. The shoulders are rough and it’s tight and you always have to have your stomach sucked in and all those things. And then in the next episode, I tried on a corset dress. Putting this one back on, it was like a nightgown. They were all laughing at me because there’s one that I wear in the opening scene in the next episode that took us 12 minutes to put one. I’m a 3 minute dresser, I like 3 minutes. It took us 12 to 15 minutes just to lace me into so that one was crazy. And I rode a horse in it. But the old one, the one I wear all the time, now it feels kind of comfy to me. I like it. It helps me walk more like a lady, which makes my mother and my grandmother very happy.