Sunday, March 11, 2012

Article: 'Once Upon a Time's' Ginnifer Goodwin Talks Fairy Tales

The Once Upon A Time cast and creators have all been talking a lot about their show recently, especially at PaleyFest (see Heidi's post on the highlights HERE), but I haven't seen a whole lot of conversation about the actual fairy tale content - both regarding source and re-envisioning - until this article on the Los Angeles Times blog HERE.

Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays the Snow White/Mary Margaret dual role, not only talks about the plot lines, twists, acting in the show and various dramas of Once but gets more detailed on barriers to happily ever after in both the fairy tale and real worlds and, most interesting to me, discusses her own research in preparing for Snow White.

[Aside: I haven't found anything of substance addressing the overall negative reaction to last week's Grumpy episode. Instead the buzz is focused on the long awaited backstory for Red Riding Hood/Ruby airing tonight. I hope for the show's sake it a good one.]

Here are some excerpts:
GG: (after mentioning she doesn't actually condone extra-marital affairs) I do feel that David and Mary Margaret are going through a struggle that is relatable. And they are a couple who put obstacles in their own way.  I’m finding that I thrive as an actress exploring that person and exploring that couple. It’s interesting because I know in some ways there has been a negative reaction by the public about what David is doing because everyone … 
Is upset because he’s married, right?Right. But people are forgetting that he’s cursed. The thing is, this couple will always put obstacles in their own way because they are cursed.  That is what makes them different from their fairy-tale counterparts. In fairy-tale land, external things are always the obstacles.  In Storybrook, just like in the modern world, these are people who insist on putting obstacles in their own way. And I think that Mary Margaret is addicted to disappointment so she puts herself in situations that are impossible — and that almost make her happy. Her curse, as inflicted by the Evil Queen, is that just when she’s about to possess her happiness, she finds a way to make things bad for herself and to have those things taken away from her... (continued in article) 
...You surely did a lot of research prior to jumping into the role. What did you consider the best interpretation of Snow White?I watched every Snow White movie ever made because I thought I could steal from people. The one I love the best is Elizabeth McGovern starring in Shelley Duvall''s "Faerie Tale Theatre." I think it's by far the best telling of the story.  I read all kinds of versions because this is not a story written by the Grimms.  This is a story older than anyone could possibly trace. It’s possible that it was based on a real-life story of a princess named Maria Sophia Maragrita.  What is bananas to me about this is I called the creators before we began the show and was like, “I love that you named her Mary Margaret after the woman who could have possibly been the inspiration for Snow White,” and they were like, “What are you talking about?” I was like, you can find online — but most of the pages you have to get translated because they’re in Russian or something — but I had said that Mary Margaret was clearly named after Maria Sophia Margarita. And they were like, “No, seriously, what are you talking about?” 
So are you saying you did more research than [creators] Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz?Ha! I guess — as far as that part goes, maybe. I mean, originally the character was going to be a nun, and that’s why she had the double name. And then when we decided not to make her nun, we stuck with the name. But what I found most helpful was — look, we were all sharing books. I found that the things that affected my process the most were these critical analyses of fairy tales.  There are these textbooks that break down what the importance was of each fairy tale in the time they were told.  And I found all of that so fascinating. In reading the breakdowns, I read a lot about Snow White’s own vanity and her competition with her mother — or evil stepmother — and that greatly changed how I saw Snow White and understanding what that story was originally meant to teach. Because then I started seeing Snow White as a bit of a spoiled brat when she was younger and she was someone who did cherish the attention she won from her father over the woman that he married. The Grimms’ version tells of Snow White’s own vanity and her not being able to turn down the beautiful comb that was offered to her by the hag or the laces that the hag offeres her to hang around her neck.  She was wrapped up in her own beauty.  And the message was that her own vanity would kill her. I really liked that idea, and I’ve incorporated it subtly into my characterization.
There's a lot more to read in the whole article HERE.


  1. Gypsy, I've just awarded you the Sunshine Blog Award! I gave your blog a shout-out on my blog ( ) during my acceptance speech for my own award! Enjoy...

  2. blech! I'm annoyed because their fairy tale halves are braver and stronger than their modern day/cursed halves, and if seems as though Ginnifer Goodwin is making excuses for her character.