‘Once Upon A Time’ Producers Preview Cruella, What’s Next For Rumple & More

No longer “Frozen” on a mid-season hiatus, “Once Upon a Time” returns to ABC on Sunday night.

Unfortunately for Storybrooke’s residents, evil queens and the Dark One are ready to stir up trouble, provided they can cross that cursed town line.

Earlier this week, Executive Producers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis previewed the newest “OUAT” twists, including giving a classic Disney villain the “OUAT” treatment – “101 Dalmatians'” Cruella De Vil.

“[‘Frozen’s’] Anna and Elsa, we did our best to not damage. This Cruella we have taken a whole new spin on,” Horowitz told reporters, following a screening of the first two episodes of the show’s return on Tuesday.

Cruella was introduced very briefly at the end of “Once’s” 2014 run (back in time, in Fairytale Land), but expect to see lots, lots more of the deliciously devilish character played by “Dracula’s” Victoria Smurfit.

“We just thought when we re imagined Cruella, we kind of wanted her to be Zelda Fitzgerald,” Kitsis said, referring to the author and wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (“The Great Gatsby”). “We wanted her to be more jazz age than ’50s England.”

When we first met another one of the evil queens — present day Ursula — she was cleaning fish tanks in NYC, far, far away from Storybrooke. While where Cruella is hiding herself will be revealed in “Once’s” mid-season premiere, how the two of them actually landed outside of Storybrooke in the first place is an explanation that will take a little while longer. “There’s an upcoming episode where… all the pieces on the chess board are laid out,” Horowitz said, noting we’ll learn more about “who wound up where and why.”

“Heroes and Villains” was the name of last episode of the series that aired in 2014, and “Once” explores that concept in the weeks ahead. “One of the big themes for the second half of the season that we want to deal with is what makes someone a hero and what makes someone a villain and what the differences are and what the common ground is,” Horowitz said.

For those who saw the Oscars promo that hinted that in order for Rumple, Ursula, Cruella and Maleficent (wait, she’s alive?!?) to get a happy ending, someone (Emma?) has to be corrupted – you can bet that theory will be explored. “Emma has spent a long time in the series being told she’s a savior and hero and now she is going to have to face that it’s not as black and white as that,” Horowitz said. “Going into the second half of the season, all of our characters are going to be wrestling with this idea of good and evil, not just in terms of what they are facing as an external threat, but internally and within themselves.”

Beyond evil queens, prepare to meet a new monster. “Once” reached way, way back in the Disney archives for its newest CGI-created beast. Creepy and ghastly, this creature will crop up in the mid-season premiere, causing terror for many of the characters.

As for the beast we know – Rumple – he’s obviously still pining for Belle, but as Kitsis put it, “she kicked him out of town.”

“He has his work cut out for him,” the EP added of the Dark One trying to win back his love. But there’s one big problem before any wooing (and major apologies) can start to happen – the curse on the town line means he can’t get back in to Storybrooke. After heading to New York City to find Ursula in last year’s mid-season finale, Rumple has a new partner in crime (and more to come) as he plots his next series of plans and schemes to secure his own happy ending.

“Once Upon a Time” returns Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.

Jolie Lash

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