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Once Upon a Time creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz first had the idea to do pen a drama series set in the world of fairy tales eight years ago while they were on board Felicity, but it wasn’t until after their experience on ABC’s Lost that the idea became clear.
The duo, who were both executive producers on Lost alongside Damon Lindelof, immediately consulted the Lost co-creator after selling the show to ABC.
“He’s really been like a godfather to us, helping us realize it,” Kitsis said, noting that Lindelof, who served as an executive producer on the pilot, sometimes gives the duo “tough love.”
Once revolves around Snow White/Sister Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming/John Doe (Josh Dallas) and tells the story of how their long-lost daughter Emma (Jennifer Morrison) is brought from the “real world” to Storybrooke in an attempt to free the famed fairy tale characters from a curse from the Evil Queen/Regina (Lana Parrilla), that leaves trapped in time, unable to age and unaware of who they really are.
Producers said questions regarding the rules of the multiple worlds set up in the pilot – including why the Evil Queen hates Snow White – will be explained in subsequent episodes, but that the show is mostly about taking the famous fairy tale characters and depicting them in a way that’s never been done before.
“[Disney] has been quite supportive in letting us do our interpretation of the characters,” Kitsis said Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills. “This is the first time we’ve shown Snow White with a sword and pregnant.”
Horowitz and Kitsis noted that the series’ end game isn’t necessarily about freeing the beloved characters from the Queen’s curse and instead is more about who they are as individuals and the crises that each of the characters face.
“For us, the show isn’t about breaking the curse,” Horowitz said. “That’s part of it; the show is about these characters and what they’re going through.”
The producers noted that episodes of Once will also be self contained and that viewers who don’t necessarily know the stories of the fairy tale characters featured on the series won’t be at a loss.
“We’re more interested in why the Evil Queen hates Snow White; why Grumpy is Grumpy,” Kitsis said. “We love the idea of going back and forth [between the two universes] and informing what the character wants in life.”
As for the opportunity to incorporate other, more recent characters from the Disney universe, Kitsis is open to the concept.
“We love the mish-mash,” he said of scenes in which Geppetto interacts with Grumpy, etc. “We have plans if we’re lucky enough to go more than 12 episodes to show that there’s more out there than you realize.”
Once Upon a Time premieres Sunday, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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