Rose McGowan played one of TV's most iconic witches on The CW's Charmed, and now, 7 years later, she's getting back on the broom (metaphorically speaking) to bring Young Cora to life on Sunday's all-new episode of Once Upon A Time.
The episode, titled The Miller's Daughter, not only reveals her long history with Rumple, but how Cora became the powerful witch she is today. ETonline caught up with McGowan to talk about her TV return, how it felt to be working against a greenscreen again and what's been the most lovely side-effect of playing Paige Matthews.
ETonline: Were you previously a fan of the show?
Rose McGowan: I had seen the show, but not been able to follow it because of traveling. Ginnifer Goodwin owns my old house, so we've always been friendly -- then the creators, invited me into their office and asked if I'd ever consider doing something on their show, and I wanted to ... as long as I could play some high level acting tennis with Robert Carlyle. We had a tremendous time. He's an amazingly talented actor and anytime you get to play act with someone of that caliber, you jump at it.
ETonline: Considering you're playing a younger version of a pre-existing character, did you watch Barbara Hershey did to inform your performance?
McGowan: I did watch quite a bit of her stuff, and then I threw it all away. I let it sink in and land where it was going to in my pea brain, but then I forgot about it. I didn't try to match her at all, so if it's there, that's just a result of my previous research.
ETonline: I also have to say, the costumes you get to wear are kind of next level.
McGowan: Oh, he kills me. Eduardo Castro is the costume designer, and he actually costumed me when I played Ann-Margret in the Elvis miniseries, so I'd already met him and what they serve up on that show is spectacular. It's like doing Marie Antoinette back in the golden days of film.
ETonline: It's been 7 years since Charmed ended, and 7 years since you did anything on TV. Are those two things correlated?
McGowan: It took me a long time to want to set foot back on another TV set because Charmed was such a special and long experience for me. I had a great time making the show, but there's no balance in your life. You're so tied down doing a TV series; I didn't see my friends, I didn't see my family or really do anything but work for five years, practically. So after it ended, I started traipsing around the world and not caring that much about being tied down to Los Angeles. But everyone on [the OUAT] set is so amazing, I'm ready to do another TV show as a result of the experience.
ETonline: Like Charmed, Once Upon A Time features a lot of greenscreen work....
McGowan: [laughs] Yeah, so have a lot of my movies. I've done some of my best work to a tennis ball that's hanging off of a metal clip. Literally sobbing my heart out to a green tennis ball. For some reason, that's how it shook out for me.
ETonline: Is it hard to re-adjust to that kind of acting after 7 years?
McGowan: Yes, but also, there are little things -- like Rumple has to get a contract to appear, so you freeze, the prop guy comes in, gives him the contract, and you resume action. I already knew all those little details because of Charmed. Whereas when I started on Charmed, no one explained to me what was going on. They'd say, "And now you orb." I was like, "What?!?!" [laughs] No one ever really told me what all those words meant.
ETonline: You joined Charmed halfway through its run, so you already knew it was a popular show, but has the audience's enduring love for it surprised you?
McGowan: Oh my God, completely. I think it really became people's family more than anything. I've met people who have named their babies Paige -- which is such an honor. It's interesting when you go out into the world and see which of your roles have affected people. There are some movies that I absolutely hate but someone else loves -- people love things for different reasons, but I think people loved Charmed because it felt like a family. And like with Once Upon A Time, they love that battle between good and evil!
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.