Once Upon a Time is a family friendly 8 p.m. drama, but its scripts are a bit R-rated.
Showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have continued a screenwriting tradition honed on their last ABC hit, Lost, where an extra ingredient is added to the story: Lots ‘o cursing – and we don’t mean of the Evil Queen-spell-casting variety.
Unlike on the ultra-serious sci-fi drama Lost, though, it’s far more funny to read f-bombs dropped in fairy tale land. When Lancelot was first revealed to Emma and Snow in last Sunday’s episode, for example, the script noted that “things appear f–ked” for our heroes when “a smile grows across Snow’s face” as she recognizes her old friend. And in the next moment, “we wonder how the f–k these two met…” The producers recall that one rousing piece of description explained an action taken by actor Josh Dallas this way: “Because he’s Prince f–king Charming.”
Even though the profanity isn’t in the dialogue, and therefore not in the show, there’s a pragmatic reason for its inclusion.
“When we were on Lost, [showrunner Damon Lindelof] once said, ‘You can either be running through the jungle or you can be f–king running through the jungle – What’s more intense?’” Kitsis says. “We carried that on because it helps the actors.”
“It’s about selling the moment,” Horowitz added. “It’s about what we want the audience to feel.”
That said, the showrunners pointed out that if they ever donate a Once Upon script to a school, they’ll have to clean it up a little.
For more scoop on Once Upon, check out our exclusive preview of Captain Hook from Sunday’s episode and our interview with Robert Carlyle about how he created Rumpelstiltskin. Get week’s print edition of Entertainment Weekly with our feature story on Once Upon here: