Emma Swan is leaving Storybrook. Jennifer Morrison announced this morning that she has declined ABC and Once Upon a Time creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis’ invitation to return next season, opting to depart the fairytale drama at the end of her current contract.
In an interview with Deadline, Morrison addressed the reasons for her decision to end her Once run after six seasons, would she come back for more than one episode if the series is renewed for a seventh season, what her favorite Once episode was and what kind of show she would like to do one day.
“I spent six years year on House, a year on How I Met Your Mother and spent 6 years on Once Upon a Time, and collectively that’s 13 years of network schedule, which is an amazing and incredible gift but it’s a grueling schedule,” Morrison said. “I’ve been transitioning into doing more directing, I’ve had some opportunities that I’ve passed up along the years in order to fulfill these network schedules, and I really had to weigh where I was in my life. I’m just at an age and a time in my life where I want to be home, I want to be with my family and my friends, to have a chance to have a personal life for a while, and also wanted to be available to do other creative things.”
Since wrapping Season 6 of Once about a month or so ago, Morrison worked on two films and is now in rehearsals starring opposite Matthew Perry in the off-Broadway production of his play The End of Longing. Her feature directing debut, Sun Dogs, is headed to the festival circuit, and she is looking at film and stage directing opportunities.
“It just felt like everything had come to a really nice place for Emma, and (Horowitz and Kitsis) had set themselves up to really revamp the show with new people in a really interesting creative way,” Morrison said. “It felt like time for me to come home.”
Morrison made her decision not to continue awhile back and shared it with the series’ producers but it was not made public until after last night’s musical/wedding episode, in which Emma and Hook got married.
“(The producers) wanted to be careful to protect especially the musical episode, they wanted to withhold the information for a little while because they didn’t want to spoil the experience of the storytelling for the fans,” Morrison said. “Honestly I think they would’ve loved to have held it until the season finale but it was getting to the point where the information was in the universe and it was about to come out.”
In her Instagram post, Morrison said that she will return for one episode if Once is renewed for a seventh season. Would she be open to doing more?
“All I can say is that I only negotiated for one episode, and that’s all I can promise at this point,” she said.
Here is what Morrison had to say about the the upcoming conclusion of Season 6, which will be culminating with the final battle between Emma and the Black Fairy.
“It’s tough to do that without giving anything away,” Morrison said. “What I can say is that I feel like everything culminates in a way that I feel is very true to Emma’s story and true to everything that she’s been through. I thought (Horowitz and Kitsis), as always, came up with something that was really creative and inventive in terms of what it was that Emma really has to face in order to fight the final battle. I’m very pleased with how they’ve written the character and how they have everything play out in the last couple of episodes.”
What will Morrison miss about Emma the most?
“It’s very rare that you get to play such a strong smart and vulnerable character,” she said. “I really love that she is a whole person and that she struggles with things, and she fails, and she has the courage to overcome them, fight to be a better person, fight to be vulnerable and to let people in. I’ll miss pretty much everything about her. It’s been truly, truly incredible to have the honor to be Emma for six years.”
What was Morrison’s favorite Once episode/scene?
“It was definitely very special to do the musical episode and have Emma marry Hook in it,” she said. “I think it was such a beautiful culmination of her journey. The scene in the Mayor’s office where she realizes that that song would unleash some power in her to be able to fight the final battle and to have strength against the Black Fairy — I really saw that as her true, true transition from the ugly duckling to the swan, her final step of really embracing who she truly is and truly embracing the power that she has within her. I thought the song was beautiful, I loved that scene, and then I also really loved the wedding scene.
When we met Emma six years ago, she was so so guarded that it was so hard to imagine her walking down the aisle so vulnerable, so open and so truly in love and surrounded by her family and all these people she’s been through so much with. I loved to have had the opportunity to play this character who could grow so much in these six years; it gives me a lot of hope for life in general.”
As an actress, what kind of series would she do in the future?
“Deep down there is a little part of me that wants to do a period piece, I think that would be fun but it has to be the right project,” Morrison said.