Once Upon a Time: Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin Preview 'Life-Or-Death' Fall Finale

Sitting down with Once Upon a Time‘s Jennifer Morrison and Ginnifer Goodwin, one can’t help but feel the love in the room.

Already longtime friends, they now are putting on a daughter/mother act, as Emma Swan and Snow White/Mary Margaret, on ABC’s fantastical sophomore drama. On the occasion of the midseason finale airing Sunday at 8/7c, I asked the actresses about being split off from other castmates for Season 2, how it feels to fulfill princess dreams, and invited them to tease the twists ahead as Once heads into its five-week holiday break.

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TVLINE | How different was it for you two, shooting this stretch of Season 2 versus Season 1? You’re split off from half the cast, working with new people, shooting almost exclusively outdoors versus on a cozy set….
JENNIFER MORRISON | We got really good at putting HotShots [hand warmers] inside our clothes so we didn’t freeze to death. [Laughs] I mean, it felt the same because we had each other, in my mind, and it felt almost like we were doing a new show together or something, because we were with two new people in a whole different situation.
GINNIFER GOODWIN | And in a world that Emma had never been in before.
MORRISON | Yeah. And even though Snow had been there, it was so different now. So everything was new for all of us, in certain ways, but I thought it was really fun.
GOODWIN | Me, too.
MORRISON | We had a lot of fun with Sarah [Bolger] and Jamie [Chung]. Like our little “gang.”
GOODWIN | How often do you get four actresses together, by the way, who really want to work together every day?
MORRISON | Really like each other. Yeah.
GOODWIN | My wish at the end of last season, once I understood that the curse was going to be broken, was to focus on the relationship between Snow White and Emma, so I got my wish as we were thrust into a world where all our characters could do is readjust to the new dynamic and learn about each other while facing external obstacles and not have to be some kind of self-indulgent family time.

TVLINE | As far as the people you didn’t get to work with during this first stretch, what did you miss most? Is there someone who sings on set, tells jokes between takes…?
GOODWIN | Lee Arenberg (Leroy/Grumpy) and Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red) are…
MORRISON | They’re fun.
GOODWIN | They’re great fun. I actually have a lot of trouble staying in character when working with Lee because he makes me laugh so hard. I can’t not break into giggles.

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TVLINE | Acting is so unpredictable a career that regardless of your efforts and talents, House‘s Dr. Cameron and Big Love‘s Margene could have been your respective calling cards. And yet, here you’ve had an opportunity to create characters that are so different and so distinct. What does that feel like?
MORRISON | I love acting because you don’t have to do the same thing over and over again, every day, and that’s what attracted me to wanting to do this for a living. So to be given an opportunity to create something completely different and live that out is the dream. It’s incredibly rewarding.
GOODWIN | On top of fulfilling the dream of always getting to change it up and to play really vastly different characters, I’ve always been sort of addicted to genre-jumping. I’ve never been in the mood to do the same thing I did last time. Hence, me going from Big Love to romantic comedy, to period film…. I can’t sit still. This, I did for my inner 8-year-old and for my future actual, material 8-year-olds, Once_SnowCharmingbecause I’m a “Disneyphile” and I specifically was obsessed with Snow White growing up. One of my base dreams had always been to play a Disney princess and have it written by these guys [series creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis included] in such an evolved, fleshed-out, adult kind of way.

TVLINE | I said this to you at the PaleyFest panel, that I knew the show was either going to be a hit … or it was going to go south in a jiffy.
GOODWIN | Oh, totally.
MORRISON | We all knew that.
GOODWIN | But I was promised that if it did go south in a jiffy, that it wouldn’t be our fault. [Laughs]
MORRISON | And also, we would get credit for trying something daring and brave.

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TVLINE | I recently gave props to the show’s CGI, because while some people like to criticize the effects, the need for them is mandatory and the budget isn’t going to suddenly…
GOODWIN | We’re not going to have $30 million-an-episode, no. It’s not going to happen. I can’t even wrap my brain around how quickly they turn these things out. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure about the CGI, in that I’ve always been a “Don’t show the monster” kind of person, but this is so imaginative and so brave, I’m hoping it’s moving technology in a new direction.
MORRISON | Someone just needs to make smaller mic packs. That’s my request for the world.
GOODWIN | Oh, my gosh, yeah. I want a microchip [inside me]. I actually had a dream about it last night, that we got microchips. And I will have that surgery. I just want something they can put under my skin and I can be in control of turning it on and off.
MORRISON | I don’t know if I would go that far but I just feel like, why, when everything else has gotten so tiny, are mic packs still so clunky?

TVLINE | Speaking of CGI, talk about shooting the netherworld scene, Ginny. Was a butane flame anywhere near you? Was it just the disco floor there on the set?
MORRISON | [Laughs] A disco floor!
GOODWIN | I kind of wish we had had real flames, only so that I could have understood how dramatic they were going to be, because we didn’t have any concept of what was going to be there. But yes, we were just on “the disco floor” — I’m convinced the key to good effects is having a real floor – and it was one of the stranger scenes I’ve ever filmed. Oh, and by the way, the reason I wish there had been real flames or I’d seen the [effects] before is because we didn’t understand how loud or big they were going to be, and while reacting to something you’ve never seen before sometimes works, sometimes it’s a bit more challenging.

TVLINE | Yeah. You’re on a quiet stage screaming at Josh [Dallas], when he’s five feet away.
GOODWIN | If that. But the weirdest part of that scene was, because they weren’t sure when either one of us would be transparent, we shot it in its entirety several times, from many different perspectives.

TVLINE | See, I wasn’t expecting that twist, that you wouldn’t be able to kiss, thus trapping Charming in the sleep spell. I was like, “Oh man, he’s [screw]ed.”
GOODWIN | I cried when I read that part.
MORRISON | I cried when I read that scene, too.