In the first three seasons of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, the show’s creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have made a point of incorporating fairytale characters ranging from classic lore to more modern stories. Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla), and Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) have all been adapted for the series. Additionally, beloved characters from Disney animated films have appeared on the show: Mulan (Jamie Chung), Belle (Emilie de Ravin), and Ariel (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), just to name a few.
Once Upon a Time has also explored non-fairytale characters such as those in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and, most recently, L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
However, the last scene in the season 3 finale of Once Upon a Time teased the appearance of a classic fairytale that has been updated for a modern generation: Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, or as we now know it, Frozen. The short scene showed the movie’s main character, Elsa, in a way that the actress playing the snow queen could not be identified, but now Once Upon a Time has announced who will be portraying the role.
The Wrap is reporting that Once Upon a Time has found their Elsa in Australian actress Georgina Haig (Fringe). Although the finale scene teased only the arrival of Elsa in Storybrooke, Once Upon a Time has also cast the roles of Anna, Elsa’s sister, and Kristoff, Anna’s beau. TVLine is reporting that Scott Michael Foster - who most famously played Cappie on ABC Family's Greek - will portray Kristoff and newcomer Elizabeth Lail will play Anna.
Although Once Upon a Time explained Elsa’s arrival in Storybrooke - by means of an interdimensional time-jumping portal after escaping the confines of Rumplestiltskin’s magical vault - it’s unclear whether Anna and/or Kristoff will travel to the small Maine town from their home of Arendelle, or if viewers will see the beautiful kingdom first depicted in Frozen.
After the finale, Kitsis and Horowitz gave some hints as to how they may portray Elsa in the show; they said they liked that she was “misunderstood,” which fits in with many of the characters on Once Upon a Time.
For instance, the Evil Queen has undergone a major character arc in the first three seasons. She started out as show’s main antagonist, but has become one of the good guys. Given Elsa’s transition from misunderstood ice witch to beloved queen, it’s certainly easy to see her fit in on Once Upon a Time.
However, where or when Anna and Kristoff will fit into the storyline is a little bit harder to guess. It’s possible they may only appear in flashbacks, exploring Elsa’s character before she arrived in Storybrooke and how she wound up trapped in Rumplestiltskin’s vault. Once Upon a Time used the characters of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in a similar fashion: they appeared in episode flashbacks that explained how Zelena became the Wicked Witch of the West.
With the casting of Haig, Foster, and Lail - whether they inspire excitement in fans or not - it’s clear that Kitsis and Horowitz are committed to exploring their own storyline using the characters of Frozen. Given the success and popularity of the animated feature, it’s not at all surprising, but fans will have to wait until season 4 begins to find out if the big screen characters can find success on Once Upon a Time.
Once Upon a Time will return to ABC for season 4 in Fall 2014.