Barbara Hershey has returned to “Once Upon a Time” in Season 2 as Cora, the manipulative mother of Regina/Evil Queen, and we just saw Cora meet up with her step-granddaughter Snow White and step-great-granddaughter Emma in Fairytale Land.
She tells Zap2it that this Sunday’s episode, titled “The Crocodile,” will pick up right where that left off and that we’ll find out in bits and pieces what happened to Cora after Regina banished her into the Magic Mirror.
“You find out some. [laughs] Eventually we’ll find out everything that’s happened to Cora,” says Hershey. “When they’ll reveal it, I’m not sure. I’m only a few episodes ahead of the audience, so I’m finding out myself as we go along.”
As for finding herself trapped with Snow and Emma, Hershey can’t say exactly whether they are adversarial or finding themselves in an uneasy alliance, but she says they’re all very leery of each other.
“I’m very protective of my daughter … if my daughter dislikes [Snow White], then I probably am cautious of her too,” Hershey says. “I can say both Snow and Emma are cautious about Cora, that I can certainly say.”
Speaking of her relationship with Regina, Hershey explains that while Cora may be pretty outrageous, it all comes from a place of love for her daughter.
“She does love her daughter. You’ve seen these mothers who guide their children into areas they don’t want to go because they think it’s best for them and it’s not really about the child’s happiness at all. Cora’s a very extreme and warped version of that,” says Hershey.
And Cora certainly is proud of Regina turning to magic, just like she herself did.
“She has always wanted that for Regina,” says Hershey. “She truly believes that magic is power and power is freedom … If there’s anything redeeming about her, as warped as she is and as evil as she’s become, she does love her daughter. That’s the one crack in her soul that still is soft, even though her reactions to it are completely outrageous.”
The show has explored how Cora’s relationship with Regina really changed Regina from the sweet, young girl she was to the Evil Queen we know — and Hershey hopes they explore what made Cora the way she is, too.
“I think the writers have always said that evil isn’t born, it’s made, so if we follow that line of logic, then whatever happened to Cora in the past turned her at some point,” says Hershey. “I always feel that way when I play a difficult person. I always feel like a defense lawyer because you try to find this place of empathy and figure out what changed them. I’m sure something happened to Cora and hopefully we’ll get to see that.”
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.