Jennifer Morrison Discusses Once Upon a Time and Emma’s Journey

Jennifer Morrison Once Upon a Time Interview
Jennifer Morrison - Photo © Richard Chavez
It’s off to Neverland for the fairy tale occupants of Storybrooke and Emma Swan (played by Jennifer Morrison) in the third season of ABC’s hit drama Once Upon a Time. Emma’s son Henry has been taken there and a rescue team led by Gold (played by Robert Carlyle) and Hook (played by Colin O’Donoghue) have set sail to Neverland in an attempt to bring the boy back safely.
At the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, Morrison talked to us about her character’s arc, season three, and fairy tales.

Jennifer Morrison Once Upon a Time Interview:

Emma went through quite a few changes last season. How was that to play?
Jennifer Morrison: “It’s great. As an actor, what you’re always looking for is a character that’s going to grow and change, especially on television. I feel incredibly lucky to be working in a show where the writing is always geared toward us growing and changing.”
Did you have any idea of the character arc between the first episode to last season’s finale?
Jennifer Morrison: “There’s certain things that they certainly talked to us about. There were things from the very first time I met with them before they even offered me the job, that were sort of a clear part of the outline or the journey that they saw for Emma. Then there are certain things that have definitely filled in over time, based on who’s playing who and the way people interact and the way the story develops. I think Eddie [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] have an incredible balance between an overall vision that they’ve really stayed true to and yet the leniency to write toward people’s strengths and toward the people that have come to the show. They have a nice balance of both.”
What can we expect for the season from the relationship between Emma and Regina?
Jennifer Morrison: “We start the season with everyone looking for Henry [Jared Gilmore], and as far as we know he could be in a really dire situation. These people just killed Neal [Michael Raymond-James], as far as I know. So no matter what Regina [Lana Parrilla] and Emma have been through in the past, reality is, Emma knows Regina will do anything to save Henry. As much as there are other grievances to be settled at some point, right now those grievances are going to be tabled in order to do everything they can do in their power, all of them together, to get Henry back.”
Is there a particular actor that you like to interact with among the big ensemble cast?
Jennifer Morrison: “I’m always prone to working with Michael Raymond-James because he keeps me laughing all day, literally. I love the entire cast. I’m very blessed. Someone tweeted recently about did I miss the cast of House, which I do. I was very lucky because that was an extraordinary cast to work with as well. I am, once again, that lucky to be a part of an ensemble where you really do love each other. But he’s just one of those people, he has this particular ability to disarm me and just keep me laughing. That brings out a really good side of Emma as well. I definitely look forward to the scenes when I know that we’re going to be working together.”
Did you have a favorite scene that you shot in season two?
Jennifer Morrison: “I would say my favorite stuff in season two was just the entire arc in New York. I felt the journey that Gold [Robert Carlyle] and Henry and Emma go on to go find Gold’s son, and the reveal of it being Neal and that entire journey, was I felt like probably my favorite arc that I’ve shot on the show between both seasons.”
What fairy tales did you grow up with?
Jennifer Morrison: “All of them. My parents are obsessed with Disney and they were in Disney World last week. I’d been to Disney World 50 times by the time I was 18, just so many times. I was actually disgruntled over it.”
They forced you to go?
Jennifer Morrison: “Well, it’s not that they forced me; you don’t force a kid to go. It was a lot. I grew up around the Disney version of all the fairy tales. So for me, it was fun to play the new character. I think it probably wouldn’t have been as appealing to play a character that already existed. To me it was fun to play a new character. To see all these fairy tales reinvented and turned upside down and interacting – it really was such a huge part of my childhood – it’s been fun to see the grown-up version of all of it, in a sense.”
What would like to see Emma doing this coming season?
Jennifer Morrison: “What I’m excited about for this season is that, at least what Eddie and Adam have been talking about, is the idea of really fleshing out all of the relationships, going deeper into the storytelling about what does it mean that Snow and Charming are her parents and that they’re the same age and that they gave her up? What does it mean that she does have a connection to Captain Hook? Maybe Neal is dead and then once she does find out he’s not dead, what does that mean now that he’s back in her life? Can she handle that kind of vulnerability? I think that whereas in season two we introduced a lot of new characters and it was a very big, broad season, it feels like this season is going to be very intimate, and it’s going to have a real intensity of depth in all of the relationships.”
Is it easier to act out the green screens now that you know the visual look of the show having seen it?
Jennifer Morrison: “It just depends on what you’re doing on a green screen. Sometimes it’s really hard. I find when you’re in a room where you don’t have walls and you’re trying to remember where furniture is and you have X’s and things for all that, but you want to be detailed as an actor so you want to interact with your environment, so when you don’t have your environment, there’s a frustration of trying to figure those details out in your mind. [You] keep running back to the monitor and looking at the temporary plates that they put in and go, ‘Oh, there is a table there. Okay, I can touch the wall there,’ and try to have a relationship with my environment. I find that the hardest stuff to do when I need to try to find a relationship to an environment that doesn’t exist.
The stuff that isn’t that hard was when I was slaying the dragon, the camera was on a giant crane. It almost felt like the camera was the dragon. When there are some reference points that make it so that you can imagine that world as it’s happening, it’s definitely beneficial. It’s really when you’ve lost all sense of your environment that it’s harder to feel as detailed and present as you would want to be as an actor. It’s a different level of concentration and seeking out what’s actually around you and having to ask a lot of questions to make sure that you’ve figured all that out.”


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