Barbara Hershey plays one evil mother in Once Upon a Time.
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Hershey played the Evil Queen's mother in the fairy tale storyline. Only her daughter, Regina, wasn't an Evil Queen just yet. She was just a sweet and innocent young woman who was deeply in love with a stable worker named Daniel. Her mother, a social climber, will do anything to see her daughter rise up in the world.
Evil Queen actress Lana Parrilla, who is made to look younger and more vulnerable thanks to longer hair and less makeup, is out canoodling with her lover one day when a young girl on an out-of-control horse gallops by, screaming and helpless. Parrilla's character rushes to her rescue.
That girl turns out to be the King's young daughter, Snow White, played in this sequence by actress Bailee Madison (Just Go With It), and her father wants to marry Regina out of admiration and gratitude. Regina's mother is thrilled, but Regina is terrified. She loves someone else, for one thing, and frankly, Snow White's father is long past his prime.
When the impressionable young Snow White catches her future stepmother kissing the stable man, she threatens to tell, but Regina manages to convince her to keep it a secret.
No one, however, is a match for Hershey's character. She's evil and manipulative and tricks Snow White into telling her that her daughter is, in fact, deeply in love with another man.
Hershey catches the young lovers before they manage to run away and kills Daniel by pulling his heart from his chest and crushing it to dust, which was how Regina weakened and later killed Sheriff Graham in the Storybrooke storyline in the episode The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. The result: Regina becomes a bitter and angry person who has learned some new tricks thanks to her mother.
In the Storybrooke storyline, Mary Margaret (ie the adult Snow White) is still in jail for allegedly killing David Nolan's wife, Kathryn, and Mayor Regina Mills (really the Evil Queen), is thrilled to get some payback. To be fair, Snow White did screw her over in another life, even though it was unintentional. But the situation takes a dramatic turn when Kathryn is found alive at the end of the episode.
Once Upon a Time proved its staying power yet again. Sunday night's episode gave Parrilla a chance to show off her superb acting range. Hershey is chilling as her mother. Parrilla's Evil Queen character may have started off as an innocent young woman, but in the end, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.