Lana Parrilla Talks Once Upon a Time Twist: 'It's a Victory' for Regina, 'Yet There's a Layer of Guilt'

And just like that, with the spin of a hat, Once Upon a Time‘s Mayor Regina Mills aka the Evil Queen (accidentally!) dispatched the two thorns in her side to “oblivion.” Yet Henry has now charged Regina with bringing back his birth mom Emma and Mary Margaret/Snow White. Easier said than done? During a visit to TVLine’s Times Square offices, Lana Parrilla previewed the obstacles standing in the way of Emma and Snow living happily ever after in Storybrooke again. (ABC’s Once airs Sunday at 8/7c.)

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TVLINE | Coming out of the premiere, what range of emotions is Regina going through after Emma and Snow White fall through the portal?
There are mixed emotions. For one, she somewhat feels guilty, because that wasn’t her intention. Secondly, it’s almost kind of like a tiny, tiny celebration, because she’s been trying to get rid of these two women for so long! But how it happened… was not ideal. So it’s all a bit confusing for Regina because it’s something that is almost like a victory, and yet at the same time, there is a layer of guilt there. I think Regina is a really good person, at the core of her being, but circumstances changed her over the years.

TVLINE | As far as fixing the situation, is the fact that the hat is crushed a first roadblock?
Yes, for sure, because that was the only portal that they had in Storybrooke. Now that it’s destroyed, they don’t know how to get to this other world.

TVLINE | Can’t we just find Jefferson and have him make a new hat?
I think there is something special about this one hat. If we remember in Sebastian Stan’s [first] episode, Jefferson was making all these hats because he was trying to recreate that portal to get back. So there was something very special and unique about this one specific hat. Now they have to find another way to reach this other world, though I’m not quite sure how they’re going to do it.

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TVLINE | We saw Regina come up empty the first time she went to use her magic and yet, after the portal sequence, she easily pinned David against the wall with the vines. What’s the difference there? Is it because Emma touched her? Is this Regina learning the lay of the new land?
That’s kind of left open for questioning… but I think it’s a combination of things. Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold is able to use a bit of magic in Storybrooke, but it doesn’t work the same way for Regina. But Jennifer [Morrison] and I, when we were doing that scene, we did play that [activating the hat] had something to do with her touching Regina, but again, we have this perplexed look on our face like, ‘Who did that?’

TVLINE | Henry has charged Regina with getting back Emma and Mary Margaret, but will Rumple’s vendetta against Regina prove a distraction?
It’s interesting because as we move forward, there isn’t a lot of full-on confrontation, like really getting down to it and saying, “Why did you send the wraith after me? What is this about?” And he doesn’t directly approach her about Belle. So the way I see it, there is so much that is unspoken between these two characters. In the second episode, Regina goes to talk to Mr. Gold — she needs something from him – but she never mentions the wraith. There is no dialogue about it. To me that indicates that either these two can never really kill each other and these are just threats, or they don’t talk about it because they’re just always going to try to trump one another.

TVLINE | Now that everyone in Storybrooke knows who they really are, we see that Ginny [Goodwin] has brought a bit of a regal air to her performance, Josh [Dallas] has a bit more swag. But since Regina has always known who she is, what subtle notes do you as an actress get to put in there?
Regina has always been very good at lying. She wears a mask. She plays a part. And now I don’t think she can anymore. So, you’re going to experience a much more vulnerable, exposed Regina. She starts to become very honest about who she is and the things that she’s afraid of and what she wants. She starts to confront herself and her inner demons in ways I don’t think she ever has.

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TVLINE | How soon do we get to see you in Evil Queen regalia again?
I’m hoping very soon. I do miss it. There are some flashbacks, but what we [thus far] flash back to is young Regina. That’s juxtaposed with the Regina in Storybrooke because in Fairytale Land she’s starting to be come this evil queen, while in Storybrooke she’s softening. I love that contrast. That’s what these writers are so great at.

TVLINE | Have you had a chance to play anything remotely resembling a warm-ish moment with Regina and Henry yet?

TVLINE | Can you tease what brings that about?

TVLINE | Which of Season 2’s new characters do you get to interact with the most?
None. I have yet to act with any of them…. The portal has a lot to do with that.

TVLINE | I was a bit surprised by the fact that everybody in town doesn’t know who Dr. Whale is….
Yeah, David is like, “Who are you?” and they get very confrontational over it. There’s a reason for that. A lot of the fans are guessing, and that’s exactly what we want them to do. There are, I think, one or two characters that know who he is.

TVLINE | I have to think that there will be some new and/or surprising allies for Regina in Storybrooke this season. It can’t just be her against everybody.
There is one, and it is a fairytale character that we do know. So, you’ll have to keep watching!