Anthony D’Alessandro contributes to Deadline’s Comic-Con coverage.
UPDATED: Lost vet Naveen Andrews is boarding Once Upon A Time In Wonderland as the genie villain Jafar. That was the big news coming out of the ABC’s show’s panel today at Comic-Con. Andrews joined the Wonderland cast members Sophie Lowe (Alice), Michael Socha (Knave of Hearts), Emma Rigby (Red Queen) and Peter Gadiot (Cyrus) onstage at Ballroom 20. Co-creator and exec producer Edward Kitsis said that the addition of Jafar adds to the entire genie-in-the-bottle- mythology they are building with the character and the show, and Alice’s love interest, Cyrus.
Preceding the panel, a 20-minute clip from the pilot was shown to applause. There wasn’t as much foot-stomping like yesterday’s ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but then again this is mostly a female demo in the room. Footage showed Alice being questioned by doctors in a Storybrooke insane asylum, remembering flashbacks to Wonderland with her beau Cyrus. She is then rescued from the asylum by the white rabbit (John Lithgow) and the Knave of Hearts.
Kitsis said, “We’re going to tell you how Alice got into Wonderland, how she wound up in asylum, what her backstory is and why Jafar is in Wonderland. We intend to be all killer and no-filler.” Adam Horowitz, also present, and Kitsis mentioned that the character of Cyrus is an amalgamation of different genie characters. Horowitz and Kitsis are only working on episode 2 currently and are still figuring out their season’s story arc. However, Kitis did promise “a gay character like we featured on Once Upon A Time, but we want to do it right because we respect love and we’re not checking something off a list.”
Once Upon a Time In Wonderland premieres on ABC on October 10.
Following the Once Upon a Time In Wonderland panel, Kitsis and Horowitz returned to the stage with their Once Upon A Time cast Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Lana Parrilla (evil Queen Regina Mills), Josh Dallas (prince charming David Nolan), Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold), Emilie de Ravin (Belle), Colin O’Donoghue (Hook) and Michael Raymond-James (Neal Cassidy).
Horowitz announced, “We’ll be running 11 episodes uninterrupted and 11 in the spring” marking a resolution to the erratic programming schedule that ABC employed in last season’s Sunday lineup of Once Upon a Time.
Quipped Kitsis, “We won’t be airing an episode, one every seven months.” The co-creator mentioned the addition of Peter Pan and the backdrop of Neverland in the show. Said Horowitz, “Peter Pan has a complicated motivation,” while Kitis added “He might be frightening.” The duo also hinted that the character of Tinkerbell will have a backstory with Hook. In addition, Mr. Gold will be on a suicide mission in Neverland to save Once’s little boy Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore). “To save Henry, Mr. Gold will have to die and the question is if the two will ever be reunited,” said Kitsis.
One of the panel’s highlights which drew laughs was a TV parody clip Good Morning Storybrooke starring Paul Scheer and Yvette Nicole Brown as hosts, written by Once and Wonderland consulting producer Jane Espenson. Clip also featured an ad for Mr Gold’s pawnshop where the slogan is “I have your life.”
The Once panel was capped off by a teaser showing Grumpy the dwarf (Lee Arenberg) witnessing the appearance of Ariel the Mermaid in the sea.