In both Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest, there is a woman so tough, anyone would think twice about messing with her. The Evil Queen? Nope! We are talking about the crossbow carrying, family defending, sassy strong Granny played to perfection by Beverley Elliott. At Regal Con, Zach Van Norman had the opportunity to talk to Beverley about all things Once and more.
Zach: Hi Bev. I’m Zach Van Norman from OnceUponAFans.com, the number one fansite for the show. I think you met my colleague Ashley, who cosplays as Granny.
Beverley: Oh yeah, yeah. She came as Granny at Dragon Con, it was great.
Zach I wanted to start off talking about Season One where we had a little more of Granny’s presence than later seasons. The episode “Red Handed” which had that huge reveal that Red was actually the wolf and Granny was just trying to protect her the whole time. When you first got that script and saw that twist, what did you think about that?
Beverley: (Laughs) Well up until that point my character, Granny, had had a few lines here, maybe a line there. I got the script right before Christmas and it’s funny because my sister and brother in law were visiting. And with all actors, you sort of read through going “ok crap crap crap, ok my line” …So I was going through and it was all “my line, my line, my monologue my monologue…OH MY GOD this is a BIG episode!” There were just big chunks of dialogue like when I spoke to the town’s people in the tavern and told them the story of what had happened. That was three minutes and 26 seconds of straight dialogue. I know because I believe it was Helga who was in charge of continuity at the time and we went through that piece 8 times. It was great, it was great. To reveal in that piece what had happened, I thought it was brilliant writing. It was a great example of what the writers do, how they take a fairytale we know and turn it on its head. And we’re not thinking “oh my God that’s not what happened”, it just takes us deeper into the story to where we didn’t think that would be possible. And I love that about the writing on this show. They turn it just enough, or even completely around, but it never feels like its in a land where it is not complementary and integral to what the story already is. And I love the fact that I am part wolf, I love that. The heightened senses, I kind of married into it you know?
Zach: There was another scene where Granny is serving Belle and Mr. Gold. There was a great deal of tension between Granny and Gold. We haven’t really seen a lot of backstory on that tension. Have you thought in your mind where you think maybe that history comes from?
Beverley: Well it really goes back to the pilot, episode one, where Gold comes in to the Inn. I don’t think we’ve gone back there since, I know I haven’t, but it’s the lobby of the boarding house area of Granny’s restaurant. In the pilot he comes in through the door and Emma is in to rent a room and I’m yelling at Ruby. I go and start flipping through the pages of the book and there’s all this dust flying because nothing has been touched. We haven’t really gone back there, it is always clean now in Storybrooke. But Mr. Gold comes in and I give him all the money from my till. And there has also been another episode where he comes into the diner and I have to give him all the money from the till. And I asked the writers about it. I asked what this tension between them is. And they said it really goes back to him controlling everything and everyone. And he had all the power. The power has really changed now, but he just controls the whole town and everyone owes a debt to him.
Zach: There was a lot of fan speculation online that the Wizard Granny got the cloak for Ruby from was actually Rumple and that it probably didn’t go exactly the way he promised her. Like perhaps he says it will keep her from becoming the wolf, but forgets to mention that it only works when she’s wearing it.
Beverley: Oh yeah, I totally think that is what it is but it just hasn’t been spelled out. I mean who else is really a wizard?
Zach: Exactly! It’s not like Merlin is running around anywhere.
Beverley: Right, unless they want to write that story in which case Granny is totally available. (Laughs)
Zach: If we were to see more of Granny’s backstory, do you have a wish list of things you’d like to see?
Beverley: Well, we had Red’s mom come in but we never played out that she was my daughter. We never got that story. I think it would be fun to go back to play when Granny is younger, and I could have my own red hair instead of the grey granny wig. It’s a great wig but “Ouch” in a word! By the end of the day I can’t wait to get those pins out of my head, because they feel like they are actually IN my head. So yeah, just to go back to when they were younger. But you see I told that in Red Handed, I verbally told the history so I think anything written or acted out would be new information. I don’t know, I leave it in the hands of our writers. A little love story here or there wouldn’t be bad!
Zach: I agree. I totally ship Granny with Geppetto.
Beverley: I Know!! That’s the one I do too! And we really like each other. Tony is a theater guy and every time he comes to town I tell him “Go see this show” or “Go see this play”. So we enjoy each other’s company as friends, nothing more than that in real life…but we sure could be on TV! Oh and what would our ship be called?
Zach: Hmm, maybe Granpetto. (Laughs) That sounds like a Starbucks drink. I’ll take a Venti Granpetto please, 2 shots of caramel! The dynamic that you had with Meghan Ory was very clear cut. I was wondering if you could talk about working with her in that. She brought such a powerhouse performance in Red Handed.
Beverley: She was just great in that episode. She was so dedicated in that scene. She just let it rip. She was crying for hours. There is a lot of crying in this show. I said to Lana, “How do you just keep crying every episode and it’s so beautiful and so real?” and she said you just keep digging stuff up and you believe the scenario. The writing is really good and that is part of an actor’s job to believe the scenario and be in that moment. Meghan was great to work with. Most of our work was in season one, but we are all still thrilled to be there. We’re all actors so we are still hungry for the scripts and to see what happens. Meghan isn’t really around now, but yeah, she’s great and I have nothing but good things to say about her. When we did the scene right after we find Peter, she was just like a wild animal. It was amazing. Never quite the same each time and they captured it beautifully.
Zach - That was real snow you were filming in that day, correct?
Beverley: Yes, it was beautiful. We were up on Mount Seymour. Usually when you’re filming they have to blow in smoke for atmosphere, but here there was none. It was just this natural fog and mist over this sort of Wonderland or Narnia snow. It was so beautiful it didn’t look real. Even going through the woods before that scene, I’m telling Snow White about Red and the scenery was perfect.
Zach: Granny is such a badass older lady. She’s not some shrinking violet. She has no problem confronting Rumple or Regina. What are your thoughts on such a different take on this character?
Beverley: Don’t you just love that this is how they have written her? Its like “here is your cookies and milk and I’ve just knitted you some mittens” is what you expect of a Granny. But this is just another example of how they (the writers) have turned it on its side. Just enough that you go “Yeah! That’s better!” It adds another color to her. Adam and Eddy were telling me that when we first had the crossbow, when Granny had slammed the door on the town’s people and sits in the rocking chair and pulls that crossbow up into her lap, Oh. They said they showed it at Comic Con and the whole room just screamed. Because that is where you really get who this character is.
Zach: Even when she’s babysitting Henry in the second season and she’s just ready to go. Like the Graminator!
Beverley: Granbo! Yes. I had an article written by the Vancouver Sun and they titled it something like “Watch out for Granbo”. It was very funny.
Zach: Switching gears, I’m very interested in your one woman show. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Beverley: Oh, Thank you, yes. I wrote it in the last three years. I’ve been in a writing group and I’ve written about life changing moments. Like you bump into a stranger and you just go “Oh, Ok.” And you have an epiphany about life or a understanding about humanity or about yourself, like maybe I should do something differently to be a better person. So I wrote these 8 monologues all based on that. I wrote them all with comedy and humor. I didn’t know that was what I was setting out to do, I was just writing stories. Then I sort of realized that they all shared this same theme, how strangers have a big effect on our lives. I’ve got 8 stories and 6 songs that I co-wrote with other people because I sing but I don’t play any instrument. I brought in someone to help me sort of put the rest of the songs together. I entered it into the Vancouver Fringe Festival and we had sold out shows, standing ovations. We got pick of the Fringe. Out of the 90 shows 6 were picked to carry over and we were one of them. We were then actually picked up by two theaters, which is what you want as a writer and actor. One theater is very close to Richmond/Steveston. So you start off self-producing and then when a theater picks it up they take on all the hard costs and the advertising and everything. It’s great. Its nice validation as an emerging writer, and emerging playwright. I never really saw myself as a writer. But the stories are really universal even though they are personal. One happens at a wedding, one at a funeral, one happens at a hot yoga class…And I even start out by saying that a friend invites me and I know it is an invitation to hell. I end up having this thing happen and I have this big rant and people in the audience really relate to that. They are like “That’s how I feel!” So I love doing it. It’s a great complement to working in television. It is just me, talking and singing for 80 minutes so it’s a great challenge and I love it.
Zach: So if people want more information do you have a website to direct them to, or should they just watch your Facebook?
Beverley: I have a web site, it is almost done. BeverleyElliott.Com and my Facebook page is Beverley Elliott Performer. It’s going to be in Richmond in November. November 11th-21st. They’re going to advertise around Steveston. I know a lot of fans make that trip.
Zach: Oh definitely. We (the Once Upon A Fan staff) are taking a trip up there the first week of October. We’re working with Tourism Richmond. We have a great fan artist who is doing a print for us and we’ll be going around the town, meeting fans etc.
Beverley: Oh really! Let us know. I would love to come out and say "Hi" to the fans if you’d like cast.
Zach: That would be great! We want to give them a really great experience, so perfect!
Zach: I’m glad you spoke about your one woman show and how it connects to people. As far as Once Upon a Time I feel like it has had a similar effect where people can see themselves or someone they know in the characters and situations. It seems to inspire people to be more hopeful and do the best that they can to overcome whatever adversity they are going through. What has been your experience with that?
Beverley: That is what I love about coming to conventions, because I didn’t know. I didn’t know to what degree people were affected. I just thought it was entertainment until I started talking to fans. I always ask “What do you do” or “What do you like about the show” and I don’t know if it is because I play a grandmother on the show, but people really open up to me. It seems often that something has come from a tragic place and the show has given them strength and power. I think part of that may be because in my generation it was all fairy princesses and “Find me a Husband so I can live Happily Ever After”. Which we know isn’t true. These ONCE princesses are all strong warriors. They mess up and forgive themselves and are forgiven and they try to do better. They are just really strong and I think that empowers young women and really lots of people. People share stories of being given hope after bulimia, or hurting themselves or a bad relationship and the show just gives them courage. A girl recently told me about watching ONCE after heart surgery and it gave her an escape. It gave her courage and I’m sure she would have eventually gotten better anyway, but it really seemed to make a difference. Now she’s here, going to conventions and that wasn’t something that was even part of her life before. These iconic characters. We have all had fairytales read to us since birth. I’m learning that is what the show does for people. Now that the writers, Adam and Eddy are dissecting them and giving us some kind of guidance and hope. I don’t know, a path. We all need some guidance so I have no judgement on that and I’m proud to be part of a show that does that.
Zach: I agree. For me I had a personal tragedy and the show came about a few years later. Seeing it was really lightbulbs going off, like “Oh, ok. You can come through something like this.”
Beverley: Yeah! And who knew that is what it was going to do? I don’t even think the writers knew.
Zach: It seems to have this effect on a large number of people. It’s all over the place, everywhere. The show gave so many hope and strength. It is why all the work that you all do, those pins in your hair (laughing) mean so much to us. We appreciate those long days you put in. Your discomfort brings so much comfort you could say.
Beverley: Oh I have it easy, the other actors have a lot more on their plate. I think it is the least we can do to come back and thank you guys.
It’s a two-way street.
Zach: Thank you so much for your time today Beverley!
Beverley: Thank you!