MCM Ireland Comic Con: Victoria Smurfit & Kristin Bauer van Straten Panel Highlights


MCM Ireland Comic Con presented a great Once Upon A Time panel this weekend featuring Victoria Smurfit (Cruelle De Vil in the show) and Kristin Bauer van Straten (Maleficent in the show). Smurfit was performing in front of a home crowd being a Dubliner herself and her native accent was back with a vengeance. Here are a few of the highlights of the Saturday panel.

Once Upon a Time Victoria Smurfit and Kristin Bauer MCM Ireland (By Claire Courtney)Question: What was it like playing such an iconic character?

Victoria Smurfit: Glenn Close played her before, and walking in the footsteps of Glenn Close is not something you do without a certain amount of sweat… A lot of the work is done by the costume… once you have the weight of the fur, the sparkle of the diamonds, the ridiculous wigs and you’re pitched forward on those heels.

On the problems of working with virtual sets:

Victoria Smurfit: We learned how to not walk into walls together. I remember there one day where there were the three of us: my shoulders were out to here in the furs, you’ve [meaning Bauer] got your dragon staff, Ursula [Merrin Dungey] has got those imaginary tentacles you can’t see… so we had to put some space between us to be able to walk down the halls. I think we were going to threaten Rumplestiltskin… as you do every Tuesday. And we were walking down the halls and they were, “Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Cut! Hang on, you’re all walking through the castle walls right now!”

On the idea of playing princesses instead of evil characters:

Victoria Smurfit: I don’t like the nice girls so much. I’m not so keen on them. There’s no edge. You can keep your princesses.You can play the princesses if you want. I prefer to play the men, the vampires or the deadly evil, diseased women. The ones who get killed. That’s what I do.

Kristin Bauer van Straten: Yeah. It’s never even occurred to me to play a princess. Playing the princesses tends to be one note. They will always be kind and crying and victimised.

[Interrupted by Victoria snoring.]

Kristin Bauer van Straten: Yeah, boring. And we get to play evil! There are so many layers.

On other villains they’d like to play:

Kristin Bauer van Straten: Hannibal Lecter…? Freddy Krueger?

Victoria Smurfit: I quite fancy a shot at Mr Gold but only because I quite like his jacket.

Kristin Bauer van Straten: It’s quite challenging because in my mind, other villains that I love I like them because… I mean, I love Penny Dreadful. I’m borderline in love with Eva Green because she’s so fantastic. So I can’t say that [I’d like to play that] character because I don’t want anyone but Eva Green to do it.

I didn’t watch Angelina play Maleficent before this last season because I thought, “Oh my god how do you beat Angelina?” So I’m not even going to look at it

On sacrifices they have to make for their roles:

Victoria Smurfit: My wig was very itchy. I used to keep a pencil to… [mimics sticking a pencil up under the wig to scratch an itch].

Kristin Bauer van Straten: [After mentioning the long hours and night shoots when she played Pam on True Blood] I didn’t have it the worst. Sam Merlotte was running around naked in those woods for seven years in, like, ballet shoes to protect his feet – which I wish I’d seen – and a little sock… well no, probably a very large sock. So I really can’t complain, but I did anyway.

Once Upon a Time Victoria Smurfit and Kristin Bauer MCM Ireland (By Claire Courtney) (2)On whether they compare notes about being former vampires [Bauer van Straten was Pam on True Blood, Smurfit was Lady Jayne Wetherby on the Dracula TV series]:

Kristin Bauer van Straten: Yeah, because any time we would talk about corsets or night shooting. There were many things we could relate to.

Victoria Smurfit: And the sugar rushes you get off the blood capsules. [When you’re filming a scene with lots of blood] by the end of the day you’re as high as a kite on the sugar. It’s quite crazy.

On returning to Once Upon A Time:

Victoria Smurfit: I’d like to go back. I know I’m dead…

Kristin Bauer van Straten: I was dead three times!

Victoria Smurfit: Fair enough

Kristin Bauer van Straten: I was gutted! Cremated!

Victoria Smurfit: I tried really hard to not be dead. Because you do this thing after you’ve shot the picture. If there’s any sound that didn’t quite make it on the audio you go into this room – this booth – and it’s called ADR: additional dialogue recording or looping. And you rerecord your voice. I had to go and do the scene where I was falling off the cliff. So I went in and they went, “Can you do the falling off the cliff?” And I said sure. [Lets rip with a long scream, fading away to nothing, then…] “Uh, I’m okay. I’m fine. I’ll be up in a moment. I’m coming. I’ll just get my purse.” But they didn’t keep it in. I don’t know why.

On amusing moments:

Kristin Bauer van Straten: It says in the script, “Maleficent turns into a dragon.” So, I’m like, “Whatever. They do that in CG.” And then I’m on set with Lana [Parrilla – Regina] and we’re shooting that scene, and right before action I realise, “Oh, but I have to do the first part of it. How the hell does that look?” And the camera’s rolling and we’re saying the dialogue and we’re getting closer and closer to when I have to do something with my arms, I guess. I mean, in my head thinking, “Oh man, would she hunch over…?” So I did this sort of hunch over thing and then kinda shoved my hands into the air like something in Vegas. And I hear Lana burst out laughing: “I need a moment.”

I wish I’d practised in my hotel room but I chose to procrastinate until there were 50 crew giggling. And it took a few times. You have to go for it, and it will look ridiculous but then they put in black swirling smoke and sound effects and it looks cool. But it didn’t look cool the first time.

Bauer received some blunt advice about how to hold her staff from Merrin Dungey, who plays Ursula

Bauer van Straten received some blunt advice about how to hold her staff from Merrin Dungey, who plays Ursula

Then there was the one where we were hiking through the woods. You’ve got this big train [indicating Smurfit] and it’s just whipping up endless mud. That happens in Vancouver from the rain. But I was using a kind of walking stick. And then I realised, “This feels wrong. I’m not hiking!” And then right before the take I said, “Hey wait guys. Should I just hold the staff still above the ground as I walk or should I do that…?” [Mimes sticking it in the mud with each step.] And Merrin goes, ‘Hold it still, you’re not f**king Gandalf!”


Photos by Claire Courtney

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