On the red carpet for Once Upon a Time’s panel at PaleyFest, co-creator Edward Kitsis warned us about Barbara Hersey’s debut as the Evil Queen’s mother in tonight’s episode. “When you see her and the way she speaks to Regina, the character she played in Black Swan will look weak,” he had said.
A terrifying prospect. But for Hershey, there’s really no comparing the two.
“I guess the only comparison is that they’re both mothers and both love their daughters in their strange ways. But the character in Black Swan was really mentally ill, I think. And this one is just deliciously evil,” she says. “It’s a fairytale; it’s very different.”
But at its core, she says, Regina (Lana Parrilla) and her mother’s on-screen relationship might strike a chord with anyone who’s ever had a strained parental relationship. “What’s interesting to me is that it’s like any mother daughter relationship that’s conflictual,” she says. “The mother wants something the daughter doesn’t want.” In this case, Regina’s mother (Hershey) wants young, pre-evil Regina to marry a royal bloodline while Regina desires nothing more than to live her days out with a stable boy. “There are a lot of mothers who want something different for their daughters. The difference is my character is evil and that she can snap her fingers and do magic. It’s much more heightened,” she says.
We’d expect nothing less than intense for an episode that co-executive producer Adam Horowitz had said will “show that evil isn’t born, it’s made.” But tonight is likely not to be the last fans see of Hershey. When her casting was announced, it was also said she would be returning in the show’s second season, if – or is it when? – the show is picked up for another year. Hershey says she’s ready to return should they call upon her. “I love acting, and its a juicy role,” she says. “It’s also a lot of fun. She’s just unrelentingly evil, and that’s delicious to get to act.”