“Once Upon A Time in Wonderland” kicked off its panel with a screening of footage from the new spin-off. Like the series it’s based upon, “Wonderland” tweaks stories we all know and love, in this case “Alice in Wonderland.” And like “Once Upon A Time,” it seemed the 19-minute presentation already has fans sucked in, eager to see more.
In the presentation, we see that Alice is an adult who ends up in an insane asylum, where doctors offer her a “cure.” Though unnamed, it seems like a lousy option. Still, Alice accepts the offer because her heart is broken — in Wonderland she met Cyrus, a genie she loved and tragically lost. But when the Knave of Hearts and the White Rabbit come to rescue her from the asylum with promising news about Cyrus, Alice gleefully beats the hell out of the guards (and snaps one guy’s neck with her legs) to free herself. This Alice is clearly not a sweet little schoolgirl but one tough cookie.
After the screening, creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz as well as executive producer Zach Estrin joined stars Sophie Lowe (Alice) Peter Gadiot (Cyrus), Michael Socha (Knave of Hearts) and Emma Rigby (Red Queen) to the stage.
When asked about casting the show, Horowitz joked, “I really wanted to play Alice, and the network said no. “
“The cast of ‘Once’ is so fantastic, we wanted to find who are the people who can embody these roles. As you can see, we just went to England and Australia,” Kitsis added.
While we met one villain (the Red Queen) in the segment, Kitsis said, “We’re going to add one more villain, a very very evil villain.” After Horowitz said that, as the show goes deeper into the genie mythology, that villain will be Jafar. Shortly afterwards, they asked Naveen Andrews (Sayid on “Lost”) to come onto the stage.
“We knew we wanted Naveen to play [Jafar], so we said, let’s save it for Comic-Con.” Kitsis said, grinning impishly.
The creators also tried to give people an idea of what the show would look and feel like. “It’s going to be very frightening Wonderland,” Kitsis said.
Horowitz also explained that the show will be a “complete close-ended story” each season.
Lowe briefly explained was it was like to play Alice (“I’m really excited to play such a strong woman”), while Gadiot also shared his thoughts.
“I think it’s just really exciting [to play a genie]. It’s an amalgamation of different characters we’ve seen, but it’s new and in a way I’m the first Cyrus, I hope.”
While the relationship between the Knave of Hearts and Alice is unclear in the segment, what is obvious is that they have a history. “In the world of ‘Once’ we like our mashups. We will find out the Knave’s backstory leads to the Enchanted Forrest. So we’ll get into that in the series.”
Also, take notice of the Red Queen. “There’s a lot more we want to reveal about her,” Horowitz said.
“When I see her use magic, it makes me wonder if she spent time with the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland,” Kitsis hinted. We’ll also learn a lot more about Alice. “Our intention is to tell you a complete story, why she went to Wonderland, who here father is, how she ended up in the asylum, how Jafar ended up in Wonderland. All killer, no filler.
When the floor was thrown to fan questions, one audience member asked if there would be a gay character at some point in these imaginary worlds. “There will be a gay character at some point in this universe, but we want to do it right, and show you that we respect love,” Kitsis said.
And while the Mad Hatter is on “Once Upon A Time,” and Sebastian Stan is busy with superhero movies, Horowitz said, “The door is always open to him. He’s very busy right now but we would love to include him.
Another exciting reveal? “We’re going to see the Cheshire Cat,” Kitsis said. “Once Upon A Time in Wonderland will premiere Oct. 10.