The ABC drama has tapped Gil McKinney (Supernatural, Friday Night Lights) to play the pivotal role of Prince Eric in a multi-episode Season 3 arc, TVLine has learned exclusively.
Prince Eric is, of course, known for being the love interest of mermaid Ariel, who will be portrayed by JoAnna Garcia Swisher (Reba, Privileged). Both characters will debut in this season’s sixth episode, appropriately titled “Ariel.”
Though little has been confirmed about Once‘s wrinkle on Ariel’s fish tale, the smart money says that our Storybrooke travelers bump up against the lass while braving the island of Neverland — perhaps cuing up a flashback to the “trouble” Regina once had with a certain mermaid. (Is the Evil Queen also Ursula? Discuss.)
McKinney played Dean and Sam’s paternal grandfather on Supernatural. He also appeared on the final season of Friday Night Lights as Julie’s T.A./love interest.
Once Upon a Time returns Sept. 29 at 8/7c.
When asked if Syfy’s Warriors of Oz (a post-apocalyptic, male-fronted saga) and CBS’ Dorothy (a contemporary medical drama), projects that just recently went into development, will impact their own, previously teased plans to someday plumb L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Once‘s Eddy Kitsis told TVLine, “We don’t really feel the pressure” — because, for one thing, they wanted to travel to Neverland first, during the first half of Season 3 (premiering Sept. 29).
“Last year there were a few Wonderland[-based pilots],” Kitsis notes, alluding to projects at NBC and The CW. “So you kind of have to throw your hat in the ring and see what happens.” (As it turned out, out of that crop only ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland landed on a fall schedule.)
“We’ve always loved Oz — we’ve talked about it, we’ve hinted at it,” Adam Horowitz acknowledges. “And if and when we get to it, we have the way we want to do it. And if we’re lucky enough to be able to do it, we’ll just go our way.”
Besides, if/when Once takes on that plucky lass from Kansas, it’s bound to be more faithful to the Oz-some stories we all know than the aforementioned riffs from Syfy and CBS.
“It just goes to our approach to all these things, which is about honoring the source material and trying to do something new to it without reinventing the wheel,” Horowitz notes. “We’ve tried to put our spin on characters like Snow White and Prince Charming while still allowing the audience to have the memories they love.”
An ABC rep confirms for TVLine that the Reba/Privileged alum will play the mermaid with moxie in at least two episodes, starting with the sixth installment of Season 3. TV Guide Magazine first reported on the casting.
Although Ariel’s appearance on the show — and often with Swisher’s name loosely attached — has been rumored since Season 1, the character’s Season 3 debut was confirmed at last month’s Comic-Con, in a teaser reel that showed a mysterious being sneaking up on a dwarf, stealing the fork (!) out of his lunchbox and vanishing into the ocean. Then, with the flick of a glistening fin, the redhead revealed herself and swam away.
Yet despite that context of the teaser (a la the previous Comic-Con’s glimpse of Captain Hook), Ariel will not surface in Storybrooke but in another realm.
Will Emma get some magic lessons from Regina in Neverland? Does Ariel have a connection to one of our favorite characters?
With Once Upon a Time returning for its third season on Sunday, Sept. 29 (8/7c on ABC), TVGuide.com decided it’s time for the brain trust behind ABC’s fairy-tale drama, executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis.
We grabbed your fan questions off Twitter and hit up Horowitz and Kitsis for a quick round of scoop, in which the producers had the option to answer, “Yes,” “No” or “Can’t Answer.” Some of their answers, and possible non-answers, are pretty telling, so check them out below:
Will we find out why or how Peter Pan obtained the drawing of Henry?
Adam Horowitz: Yes.
Is your Rufio the same as Hook‘s version of Rufio?
Horowitz: Rufio belongs to another take on the Pan thing. We’re not using that character that was created by another world, but we are making a loving nod towards a movie and a mythology that we enjoy. Hook was a movie that we saw when we were younger.
Kitsis: Everyone has great respect for that movie in the [writers’] room and you realize collectively everyone grew up loving that movie.
Horowitz: We wanted to give the fans a little nod to that. So, if you look closely, I think you might get a nice, fun nod.
Are we finally going to see how Regina (Lana Parrilla) adopted Henry (Jared Gilmore)?
Kitsis and Horowitz: Yes!
Will Regina get a love interest?
Kitsis: Will she chose to love is another question.
Can the Charmings really trust their enemies?
Horowitz: Can’t answer.
Will Ariel have a connection to our group?
Will Emma (Jennifer Morrison) get magic lessons from Regina?
Horowitz: Can’t answer.
Will there be a way to communicate between Neverland and Storybrooke?
Kitsis: Can’t answer.
Horowitz: Good question, though!
Will there be a new mayor in Storybrooke?
Kitsis: I’m not sure that the municipality of Storybrooke is what is first and foremost on the minds of the citizens.
Horowitz: We’ve seen a lot of Twitter fire about maybe Belle (Emilie de Ravin) will be mayor. She’s comptroller while everyone is gone. [Laughs]
Will we see Wendy Darling (Freya Tingley) again?
Will we find out who wrote the fairy tale book?
Horowitz: Can’t answer.
Might the group split up when they get to Neverland?
Horowitz and Kitsis: Can’t answer.
Will Rumple (Robert Carlyle) revert to his old self physically in Neverland?
Kitsis: You never know with the Dark One.
Horowitz: Being in Neverland will have a profound effect on all the characters, including Rumple.
Will we actually see the Land of Oz this season?
Horowitz: Let’s talk about that question in December.
Kitsis: Not in the first pod of episodes.
Once Upon a Time returns Sunday, Sept. 29 at 8/7c on ABC.