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04
Nov 12
Ali Articles & Interviews, Once Upon A Time Comments Off on Once Upon a Time stars caught up in the magic of B.C.

The Vancouver Sun caught up with Ginnifer and she shared her thoughts about filming in British Columbia and what it is like to get recognized almost everywhere she goes.

Kind of like the weather, ‘it’s all around us,’ Goodwin says

n this world and the next, weather is the great equalizer. Once Upon a Time may be a fairy tale about magic kingdoms, star-crossed damsels, charming princes, spells of enchantment and the power of imagination, but real life has a way of intruding on reel life, often at the most inopportune moments.

On this cold, dark late October morning, a lean, hard wind and sheets of driving rain knife across the Steveston, B.C., flats just as the heroes and heroines of TV’s most magic hour spill on to Moncton St. — Main Street in the present-day town of Once Upon a Time’s imaginings.

Mary Margaret Blanchard, David Nolan, Emma Swan, Henry Mills and a tumultuous group of friends, well-wishers and close acquaintances are walking and laughing together, arms linked, in happy celebration. It’s a moment of joy, and as they turn into the hellish wind and driving rain, actors Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison and the others — dressed for indoors — look happy and triumphant. They’re in a celebratory mood, after all.

“Rolling!” first-assistant director Morgan Beggs shouts, as episode director Ron Underwood takes his position behind the camera monitors and the happy band of merrymakers celebrates in the street. In an added touch, an industrial motion-picture fan whips up autumn leaves in their faces — for atmospheric effect — but the leaves are so sodden from the rain by now that only a handful of them make it into midair before falling back to the ground again in a desultory heap.

On the first take, Ginnifer Goodwin, playing Mary Margaret — she also plays Snow White in Once Upon a Time’s fairy-tale world — is ebullient, laughing easily as she links arms with her fellow actors Jennifer Morrison, Josh Dallas and Jared Gilmore. On the second take, the smiles and laughter are still believable but this time, when Beggs calls, “Cut!” the group huddles together for that one moment of extra warmth before the third take. By the end of the third take, Goodwin and Morrison’s teeth are chattering as Dallas — Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time’s fairy-tale kingdom — and a pair of crew members offer blankets and heavy coats.

The episode, the ninth in Once Upon a Time’s second season as one of Sunday night’s most beloved, avidly followed and most watched primetime entertainment programs, is called Queen of Hearts, and is tentatively slated to air on Nov. 25.

Once Upon a Time’s crew bosses have learned to expect crowds of onlookers as the ABC-Disney production has turned an entire section of Moncton Street, Steveston’s main thoroughfare, into the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine. Hardly anyone has turned up on this morning, though — in part because Once Upon a Time’s production team doesn’t care to advertise when or on what days they’re filming in the neighbourhood, and in part because the weather is about as owly as late October in coastal B.C. gets.

The Storybrooke Free Public Library, down the street from an actual bakery called Storybrooke Bakery — advertising “Fresh Daily Bread” — is boarded up with newspaper on the windows. A vintage white Edsel, the size of a fishing boat with Maine licence plates — “Vacationland,” according to the state motto — huddles in the rain outside a Steveston auto garage, down the street from the Georgia Cannery, an actual fishing cannery, and Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiques Dealer, which is not an actual pawnbroker but a small shop created especially for Once Upon a Time.

Robert Carlyle, who plays Mr. Gold — as well as Rumplestiltskin in the fairy-tale world — has it both easy and difficult on this day. On the one hand, he’s working indoors. On the other, he’s in every scene, which means his day will begin before dawn and last well toward midnight.

Gilmore, age 12, doesn’t mind the wind and rain, even as a production assistant suggests an impromptu interview with Postmedia News must be done out on the street, because, “They’re filming inside,” the Storybrooke Pet Shelter set aside for media interviews.

Gilmore played Don and Sally Draper’s oldest son in early seasons of Mad Men. He’s now committed full-time to Once Upon a Time, though, in the key role of Henry Mills, the lonely boy who kicks off Once Upon a Time’s story when he becomes convinced that his adoptive mother is the Evil Queen from fairy-tale lore, and that the residents of the sleepy seaside town of Storybrooke are fairy-tale characters trapped in the present-day world.

Gilmore’s role in Mad Men has since been recast, but he’s philosophical about the change.

“I miss it and I don’t miss it,” he says of his Mad Men years. “This is my new home, and I’m loving it here.”

Some of his toughest scenes are with Lana Parrilla, who plays the dual role of town mayor Regina Mills — the wicked stepmother — and the Evil Queen. Brooklyn-born Parrilla is “the nicest, most wonderful person to be around,” Gilmore says, almost wistfully.

“And then, when the camera’s on, she is the Evil Queen. It’s scary. But fun.”

Moments later, Goodwin, her teeth no longer chattering, ducks into the Storybrooke Pet Shelter — “Do you have a radio, or are you just guessing?” a bemused assistant director tells the production assistant, when told, “They’re filming inside,” — throws her coat over the back of a director’s chair and sets herself down, relieved to be out of the rain, her eyes bright with energy.

She played one of the lead roles in the acclaimed five-year HBO polygamist drama Big Love, as Margene Heffman, third wife to Bill Paxton’s Bill Henrickson.

Once Upon a Time is a whole different world, though. The audience for a popular primetime network drama — and, with 14 million U.S. viewers for last month’s second-season premiere, Once Upon a Time is exceedingly popular — is vast compared to that of an HBO drama, even an Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated drama like Big Love. Goodwin is now recognized and stopped wherever she goes.

“It’s taken some adjustment,” Goodwin says. “Because I’ve always led an anonymous life.”

She attributes it, at least in part, to her hair, which she wears short in her personal life.

“I’ve always performed using wigs, so this is who I really am. It’s my real hair.”

As Snow White, Goodwin dons resplendent auburn trusses, the latest in a long line of meticulously designed Disney accoutrements, but much of the second season has focused on her Mary Margaret character.

That opportunity to play two sides of the same character — one in the here-and-now, the other in a fairy-tale past — is one of the aspects that drew her to Once Upon a Time as an actor. After Big Love, Goodwin was not necessarily looking to commit to playing one of the lead roles in a weekly, hour-long drama, certainly not one with an average 22 episodes a season, rather than HBO’s average of 13.

“I loved Big Love. But I actually think that what Ed and Adam (writer-producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz) are doing here is more creative. It takes more discipline and creativity to tell a story within these constraints and tell a story for the whole family — moms, dads, kids — than cable, where there are no limits to what you can do or get away with.

“The hours are very different, though. On one level I always knew they would be, but this has been quite an eye-opener just the same.”

The workload — and weather — aside, the experience has been, “breathtaking,” Goodwin added. “Gorgeous. More than anything I could have expected.”

She misses her Los Angeles home.

“It’s not easy. I’m close to my sisters, and I miss my friends. That’s the big one for me, first and foremost.”

Goodwin returns whenever she can, on weekends and on the occasional week-long breaks between filming. The crew and Steveston residents have proven especially welcoming, though.

“They’re so — uncynical,” Goodwin says, after a pause. “Is that a real word? Everyone says their crew is the best, but these people are very special to me. They feel empowered — they can make suggestions and not get ignored. I’ve been on shows where that isn’t always the case. Ed and Adam encourage it.

“They love their jobs. If I get the giggles after 14 hours, there’s no, like, ‘We really would like to go home now.’ They stay in it to the end.”

Despite Once Upon a Time’s occasionally heavy material — betrayals, poison apples, ageless curses, malevolent potions and two-faced mirrors — there’s plenty of room on-set for practical jokes.

“If anything, I’m the goofster,” Goodwin says.

Goodwin has allowed herself, this season especially, to see her out-of-town job as becoming a home away from home.

“This year is different. Last year, I was living out of hotels. Now I’m looking for a house.”

Once Upon a Time will be in Vancouver for as long as it continues to be made, Goodwin adds.

“We’re not going anywhere.”

Judging from the audience’s response and early ratings — Once Upon a Time shows early signs of being a timeless hit both for its parent network ABC, owned by Disney, and CTV — that could prove to be a long time.

Goodwin says the fairy-tale kingdom scenes are her favourite, in part because she gets to relive a girlhood fantasy. Her favourite fairy-tale character, as a young girl growing up in Memphis, Tenn., and even in college in Boston — she majored in acting at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts — was Snow White. That’s who she wanted to play, when she was grown up.

“That’s a really boring answer, I know,” she says, with a sheepish smile. “But it’s true. That’s who I wanted to be. I never dreamed one day I would.”

The hardest scenes for her, she says, are the physical jousts, “because I’m not physical in that way, and never have been.”

The action scenes are liberating — “I had a sword fight the other day!” — but she has to be careful not to nick an ear, or pull a muscle without knowing it.

“We train for everything,” she says. “They’re very careful about that.”

Morrison and Goodwin are tight friends; their friendship pre-dates Once Upon a Time by several years.

“It’s funny how these things work out. I said at the time that if I had to spend the rest of my life in another country, this is the person I want it to be with.”

Goodwin knows where she’ll be on Halloween.

“Working,” she says, simply. “I really hope we’re not shooting at night, though. Perhaps we’ll go to a bar or restaurant, if it’s late.

“I already know what I’m wearing, but I’m not telling you!”

Snow White believes in magic, it goes without saying. What about Ginnifer Goodwin, though?

“One hundred per cent,” she says, without missing a beat.

The evidence?

“Love is magic. Science is magic. It’s all around us.”


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