'Once Upon A Time' Q&A: Rebecca Mader On Playing Zelena
Who knew wicked could be so good?
As Zelena, the Wicked Witch, on “Once Upon a Time,” Rebecca Mader is a devilish delight, as she curses, plots and spreads her evil cheer across Storybrooke and Fairy Tale Land.
In this weekend’s episode of the ABC series (airing Sunday at 8/7c on ABC), her story will further unfold, as fans take a trip to Oz and learn more about Cora’s other daughter, including, how Zelena became so villainous and so green.
On Wednesday, Rebecca charmed AccessHollywood.com in a new interview, by teasing us with tantalizing hints about this weekend’s episode, and about what lies ahead for her wonderfully wayward character.
AccessHollywood.com: Boy, are you wicked on this show!
Rebecca Mader: (Laughs) I know!
Access: Where does that come from?
Rebecca: It’s really funny, my mum always says, ‘Why do you always play such mean people?’ because obviously, in real life, I’m a delight (laughs). I always play such awful people, which is really, really fun, because I’m playing so different to who I am as I go around town during the day. It’s really cathartic for me to play someone sort of so wicked.
Access: The response for this character has been amazing. Have people been come up to you and said things when you’ve been out and about, about playing Zelena?
Rebecca: Yeah, I’ve had a couple people come up to me like, ‘Ohhhh! You’re bad! You’re horrible.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t write it!’
Access: How has that felt for you seeing, hearing the response for this? Fans seem ecstatic.
Rebecca: Yeah, I’m surprised, actually. When I first got the gig, and Adam and Eddy — when the three of us spoke on the phone, Eddy was like, ‘Get ready for hate mail.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, no!’ … And the response — because I’m a big, big, big Twitter person — so I was expecting to get horrible hate Tweets and I’m getting so much love from the Oncers. The ‘Once Upon A Time’ fans have been really supportive. It’s been really nice, because I thought, if I’m going after their favorite people, they’re going to hate me, but they’ve actually been really nice to me, which is cool.
Access: What do you think Zelena is after? She seems to want to take down everybody. Does she have one goal above all?
Rebecca: Yes, there is definitely a plan and there is a method to the madness, and there’s definitely a reason and an end game, which you’ll start to see. We’re gonna learn a lot. This Sunday night’s episode is going to reveal a lot, and… I can’t [reveal] the complete end game at this point, but this Sunday night, we do go to Oz and we do get Zelena’s backstory from very young, right up until present day, which I think will be great for the fans, because it’ll kind of help everybody understand why she’s become who she is now, why she’s so wicked and why she’s so hurt, which I think will be fun.
Access: And why she’s so green?
Rebecca: Well, yes. We will learn that, definitely on Sunday. We’re gonna learn a lot, which I’m very excited about.
Access: Will one of the things we’ll learn be what she’s doing to Snow’s child and what was in that orange juice? … I was like, ‘Don’t drink the juice, Snow! Put it down!’
Rebecca: I love it that whenever I get near Snow, and my hand goes towards her belly, the music starts to change like, ‘Oh my God.’ [It’s] really funny.
Access: Are we going to find out why she’s obsessed with this child?
Rebecca: Eventually, yeah. Absolutely. We will find out what Zelena’s interest in Snow White’s baby is. I don’t know that we find out on Sunday, but you are going to see very soon what my interest is and why.
Access: This weekend you get to tell Regina – again – that she is your sister, because they’ve forgotten the last year.
Rebecca: Yeah, everybody has lost their memories for the past year when they went back to Fairy Tale Land and then, since they’ve gotten back to Storybrooke. I’m the only one that hasn’t lost their memory of that past year. And, as we saw, when I first arrive, I explain that I’m her half-sister, but she doesn’t know that in the Storybrooke version of herself, so she will find out in Sunday night’s episode that I’m her half-sister, from Cora.
Access: What can you preview about how Regina takes the news? With some of the trouble Regina’s had it seems like this could put her in hot water.
Rebecca: Yes and no. I feel like she’s kind of coming out of her own hot water in this season. … I think Regina’s had a very interesting metamorphosis in that regard, because she is kind of coming around with everybody else and becoming part of them now that you’ve got these new, horrible people coming along to destroy, she’s becoming a little bit more kind and more of a kindred spirit to everybody else rather than being on her own, extricated over there.
Access: It looks like you get to engage in a physical combat of sorts and there is a ‘Dynasty’ style bitch slap in one of the trailers (for Sunday’s episode).
Rebecca: (Laughs) It’s so ‘Dynasty,’ it totally is. That’s funny. Yeah, Sunday night’s showdown is going to be absolutely wicked. That was really fun to shoot. We shot that all night, outside. It took a whole night, until like 6 o’clock in the morning to shoot that final showdown in the middle of Storybrooke, in the middle of the street. It’s pretty epic and I love the trailer and the preview is shot like a Western. It’s pretty cool.
Access: Are these women actually so different? They’re both wounded animals. It sounds like yours might be, perhaps, a bit more wounded. But the original Regina we met…
Rebecca: I think there’s a lot of similarities and feeling wronged by people that you love, but I definitely [think] Zelena [can’t relate what] she’s gone through to what Regina had, because Regina had everything and had money and had the mother. She got to grow up with her mum, she got to be queen and have all this money and I grew up really poor and abandoned and didn’t have a mum. So, for Zelena, there’s a massive difference between what they went through. Me, personally, I can see the similarities, but I think Zelena is so upset, she can’t even see that at all.
Access: We know you have a kiss coming up with Rumple [in an episode later this month]. Can you hint at what the heck that is all about?
Rebecca: No. I can’t believe that’s already on the Internet. I woke up to that on Twitter this morning. I’m like, ‘Where did that come from?’ So I guess ABC must have released it. I don’t know. I didn’t know that was going to get released. My mum’s freaking out about that one because Robert Carlyle is obviously a big deal in the UK. He is here, but he’s an even bigger deal in the UK, so my mum’s like, ‘What’s going on over there?’ I’m like, ‘Not telling you. You’re going to have to watch and find out yourself.’ I absolutely cannot say.
Access: Finally, can we keep you on this show? Would you like to stay if that were a possibility? Personally, I love you on ‘Once.’
Rebecca: Awww, thank you…. I’m having a really, really good time. I’m not looking to pack my bags and jump on my broomstick and go off in a huff. I’m having a blast. I’m really, really happy to be on the show.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.
-- Jolie Lash
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