ONCE UPON A TIME: Rebecca Mader Talks Zelena & Hades’ Romance and a Mother-Daughter Reunion

once upon a time

Zelena has had quite the adventure lately. After being accidentally brought to the Underworld, ONCE UPON A TIME revealed that she was the true love of Hades. And now it seems like the pair have decided to make a go of their somewhat twisted relationship. In the upcoming episode, Zelena will also be reunited with her mother, Cora, and her sister, Regina, in the Underworld as one of Cora’s secrets is revealed to her daughters.

Recently, we spoke to Rebecca Mader about Zelena and Hades’ relationship, the upcoming family reunion, and whether Zelena can ever find her happily ever after.

What Does Mader Think of the Zelena-Hades Pairing? “I did not see that coming at all. I was really, really, really surprised. I thought [it] was great. Because I knew when I got whisked away to Oz I was going to be away for a minute because the [producers] told me. [They told me] ‘we’re just going to let you know that you’re going to go off to Oz and then when you come back you’re going to come back in a really fun, exciting, wicked way’. But they didn’t tell me that I was going to be tied into this new villain and the Lord of Death. I was really shocked and I was like ‘yay, this is going to be fun to play because Zelena’s kind of been on her own the whole time so it’s fun to be able to sort of explore that aspect of her personality and her heart’.”

How Genuine is Their Love? “At this point where we are in the season, I can’t speak for him because there’s an aspect of her…but he is definitely believable to her. I think her resistance is more in terms of self-preservation. It’s like ‘I want to believe you, but everybody has disappointed me and hurt me and you’re probably going to do the same thing’. It’s like how many times can she keep resisting and resisting and resisting when he’s like ‘but I love you and my heart is pure and we can have this great life and I built a whole town for you. I rebuilt Storybrooke and I can get you your daughter back and we can have this whole thing’. He’s selling this wonderful new life and she’s saying ‘no, no, no, no’, but then [she’s saying] ‘why not maybe try?’ It’s just been such an internal struggle for Zelena, this part of the season. For her to sort of say ‘I might have been a bit too harsh and maybe I’m willing to try’. It’s really hard for her to say, but how much can you say no? Are you going to live the rest of your life not knowing? I think she wants to believe that he’s genuine and I think it’s really difficult to understand that someone is attracted to her and love her. It’s really, really confusing because no one has ever loved her.”

Getting Back Her Daughter. Zelena has been trying to do the right thing to be reunited with her daughter, but is she willing to succumb to darkness to get her back? “She used to be green with envy because Regina had everything. But now being a mother has changed her whole intention. I think surrendering her daughter back to Robin and Regina was the ultimate sacrifice and that was coming from a place of her heart. Which she hasn’t used very much because it’s been shut down. So things are kind of opening up for her. So she wants to sort of believe that Hades loves her and she wants to be with her daughter, but not if it means she’s going to hurt her child.” In fact, we’ve seen Zelena do some noble things in the name of motherhood. Recently, she helped Belle, another woman in danger of losing her child. Mader explained that “In that moment in the story, Zelena’s incredibly despondent. And is sitting there drinking whiskey and [is sad about losing her child and not believing that Hades really loves her]. She’s thinking ‘what am I even doing here?’ Zelena’s trying to relate [to Belle] and saying ‘you’re a mother, you get it’. I think it’s more a case of throwing another mother a kind bone. That’s where I was coming from in that moment, rather than [trying to take down Rumple and Belle]. Now that I’m a mother, why would I want [Belle] to lose her child? Because I’ve just lost mine”.

Cora-Regina-Zelena Reunion. Are there any happy reunion feelings to come? “They are some of the best scenes I’ve ever shot in my entire career. Earlier someone asked ‘if you could sum it up in one word, what would you say?’ And I said ‘#monumental’. These scenes are so huge and you find out such amazing, crazy, bonkers things. The three of us together and the things we discover and the flashbacks…it’s a buckle up for safety, kind of epic ONCE UPON A TIME-feels. As the people say: ‘all the feels’. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil it because it’s so good.”

Looking Ahead to the End of the Season. “There’s definitely some episodes that have been really fun for me in terms of my character development. I would say 5.16 was a really huge moment for me. Just to have all of those flashbacks and starting to develop the relationship with Hades and all of the stuff that went down with Dorothy. And I always love being in Oz. Then when you see [this week’s] episode, with everything that’s then revealed between Regina and Zelena, that’s huge in terms of my storyline. Then 5.21 is also a really big episode. There’s these kind of milestones throughout the remainder of the season that are just this incredible arc, not just for the show, but selfishly, enjoyably for me.”

Can Zelena Ever Have a Happily Ever After? In the last episode we saw Zelena proclaim that she will never get a happy ending. But her sister used to believe the same thing and has thus been redeemed. Could the same ever happen for the Wicked Witch of Oz? “Yeah. I mean, Rumple got his so I always say that’s the thing with this show. The show is about hope and faith and hanging in there even when you’re stuck in another realm. I think, ultimately, anything can happen can happen on ONCE UPON A TIME. I’m lighting a candle that Zelena can get what she wants, for sure.”

Don’t miss an all new episode of ONCE UPON A TIME tonight (April 24) at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC (U.S.) and CTV (Canada).

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