Magic arrived in the beautiful suburb of Versailles, France last weekend when hundreds of Oncers descended on the Palais des Congrès de Versailles to attend Xivent’s Fairy Tales II Convention. We arrived at the convention centre bright and early on Saturday and stood in line to get our passes, chatting with other fans while we waited. The sun was shining and the Oncer fandom was abuzz, a charge of positivity flowing as fans of all ages bonded over their favourite stories and characters.
t was so nice to talk directly with fans, not just about the show, but also about the fan site. Being recognised for something you have created was quite a surreal experience, but it was also great to get feedback from fans with regards to what they like about the site. Many were pleasantly surprised that, like themselves, we were simply “Oncers” who had come out to show the cast support and thanks.
After our passes had been claimed, we quickly made our way to the auditorium on the first floor of the building. Anticipation was building and the sound of hundreds of eager fan girls and boys was reaching fever pitch as we took our seats.
The first panel of the day was a Q & A with Emilie De Ravin and Sean Maguire. Both Sean and Emilie were warm and endearing, embracing the fans from the start. Emilie talked about her love of the Lacey character and said she missed that part of Belle’s personality. She also remarked on the Rumbelle relationship, comparing it to great love stories like Romeo and Juliet! Sean, on the other hand, felt that Robin is protective of Belle and wary of her relationship with Mr. Gold given Robin’s torturous past with Rumplestiltskin. Also, though he has a great respect for all the actors who have portrayed Hood in the past, Sean felt he wanted to do his own take on Robin Hood and give him a very modern take on the tale.
When asked about Marian’s return, Sean explained that Robin felt responsible for Marian’s death after stealing from Rumple and that we will see more of their backstory. Despite loving Marian, Sean also feels that, long term, Robin is destined to be with Regina, though it will be a very difficult road for all involved. Sounds like fans can expect an emotional roller coaster throughout Season Four when it comes to OutlawQueen.
The biggest bombshell of this panel occurred when Emilie revealed that it was highly likely Belle would discover Mr. Gold’s betrayal early on in Season Four. She speculated that the fallout could be severe, possibly even resulting in the couple splitting up short term.
Following the panel and subsequent lines for photo shoots with Emilie and Sean, we checked out the merchandise stalls and grabbed some exclusive shots of Jared and Robbie from the photo shoot Xivents had done with them the previous day.
We also stopped for a photo op with legendary Hook cosplayer, @tomabaud, who proved a massive hit with fans
The afternoon session brought a Q & A panel with the Evil Queen herself, Lana Parrilla. Lana is as “Hollywood” as Hollywood gets. She reminds me of those iconic big screen divas of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Whatever the X Factor is, she has it in spades, and possesses the unique ability to transform into her character for the audience at any given moment, leaving fans awestruck as she recited some of her favourite lines from the show.
During the panel, Lana spoke openly about her love for Regina, explaining that loss and trauma has caused Regina to act unconsciously in the past and that she is only now learning to be a healthy human being. Lana explained that the turning point for Regina was Henry, describing the positive influence and power of children as “magic”. Her love for Henry has given Regina light magic because of True Love's Kiss and her entire being will change because of this. Lana also described Regina as “a flawed character who has a beautiful heart and is constantly striving to be better”.
When questioned about the Marian dilemma, Lana stressed to the audience that she truly believes that Robin and Regina are soul mates and destined to eventually be together, remarking, “Marian may have to find a new man.”
Looking ahead to Season Four, Lana hopes that she will still get some wicked scenes to play as she loves camping it up as the Evil Queen. As for Regina’s relationship with Emma, Lana has no idea what will happen between them but believes it is a love/hate relationship that will go back and forth all through the series. When questioned about the introduction of Elsa this season, Lana said that she “has her fireballs ready for her”.
Overall, the panel was an emotional one for fans. Hearing Lana tell the audience to “get off my porch” was greeted with roars of approval and cheering. Lana later declared it one of the best scenes she has ever done on the show and that she has an amazing relationship with Ginny Goodwin, which has helped with their on-screen dynamic as Snow and Regina.
The final panel of the first day featured Jared Gilmore, Rebecca Mader and Robbie Kay. Rebecca in particular delighted fans with her witty one liners and bubbly outgoing nature. She revealed that she would love to see Zelena come back and earn her redemption in the future, while Robbie left fans screaming in glee when he suggested that Pan and Zelena should team up as Storybrooke’s new power couple!
Jared, a newcomer to the convention circuit, liked the idea of becoming a wizard on the show in future seasons and learning magic from his two moms, Regina and Emma. When asked about Swan Queen and the possibility of Henry’s moms becoming more than friends, Jared handled the question with maturity and offered that “it would be awkward for Henry at first, but I’m sure he’d get used to it”. Jared also expressed a desire to get his happy ending in the future, feeling that Henry’s greatest wish is for all his family to get on and to finally meet his princess!
Other behind the scenes sound bites included a reveal from Rebecca Mader that a line had been cut in the final scene between Regina and Zelena. Originally, the script had included a moment when Regina turns to Zelena, smiles, and says, “It would be nice to have family in town”. Robbie also revealed that he initially found playing Pan more difficult than playing Henry since he already had a template to work from with Henry. Robbie also spoke about the darker take on the Peter Pan tale and was told the character would be a villain from the outset by producers.
The first day ended on a high as hundreds of happy Oncers filed out of the convention centre clutching their autographs, photo shoot pictures and memorabilia. Many would be back tomorrow to do it all again. If Saturday had been a taster, Sunday was definitely the main course with further panels including a triple whammy of Lana, Sean and Jared.
Robbie kept fans entertained on Sunday with various insights into the production process of the show while Sean complimented Robbie on his maturity and really wished he had been as smart at his age. Robbie went on to explain how the role of Pan had changed his life significantly, as well as being very open to the idea of a possible Neverland spin-off at some point in the future since he felt there were many story threads still to be explained, particularly Hook and Pan’s earlier dealings with each other. Robbie also divulged that the reveal of Pan being Rumple’s father was kept from him during filming of the early episodes with producers simply telling him that Pan had a “special connection” to both Rumple and Henry.
Sean talked fondly about his experiences with the cast and paid tribute to Michael Raymond- James, who took him in and made him feel welcome on set. The actor compared his arrival on the set with your first day at school and he had thought long and hard about how to approach the role of Robin Hood since his first few scenes early on in Season Three would form an “imprint” of the overall character later on in the season.
The main event of the day for fans was the panel featuring Lana, Sean and Jared. Highlights from the panel included Lana remarking that she would love to have Dracula on the show while Jared would like to see further emphasis on Henry’s relationship with Rumplestiltskin. When asked again about Regina’s relationship with Emma, Lana replied that she played the final “you’re just like your mother” scene with Emma a number of ways, leaving the scene open to speculation with regards whether Regina intended to get revenge on Emma or would choose a more rational path. Lana feels that old habits die hard with Regina and while initially she may be out for Emma’s head, she has also developed so much and may look for new ways to solve her problems.
Another interesting behind the scenes insight involved the relationship with Henry and Regina back in Season One. Lana revealed that she was told by producers to keep the audience guessing as to whether Regina really loved Henry. In hindsight, Lana feels that producers were unsure how to play the relationship and had kept their options open to go a number of ways with the storyline.
Inevitably, talk turned to the Marian cliffhanger at the end of Season Three. Sean declared that he was shocked by the twist and had initially thought he was going to be killed off. However, both Sean and Lana are confident that true love will find a way and that they will get their happy ending in due course, leaving OutlawQueen fans in the auditorium very happy!
Overall, the convention was a blur of emotions. The cast went above and beyond in making sure every single fan was made to feel special, taking time to chat as they posed for photo shoots and signed autographs. Even when autograph times overran, many of the cast stayed until late in the evening to ensure everyone went home with a special moment. A special shout out to the various cosplayers at the convention who kept us entertained and were only too happy to pose for pictures throughout the weekend. Magic was at a peak during the Karaoke hour when hundreds of Oncers joined together for a rousing rendition of 'Let It Go'! The magic of the Once Upon A Time fandom was in evidence during the entire weekend, proving that magic is not just “a town in Maine,” but wherever the Once community gathers.