JoAnna Garcia Swisher tackles iconic Disney princess Ariel in this Sunday’s episode of Once Upon a Time (Season 3, Episode 6: “Ariel”), and earlier this week, the gorgeous redhead dished to Wetpaint Entertainment about the ins and outs of the Little Mermaid fave.
However, there’s more to the story than saving Snow White, meeting Prince Eric, and battling Ursula — for JoAnna, it’s about the struggles becoming a mermaid.
In a snippet of our chat below, the new mom talks about working with the infamous OUAT green screen, learning to swim with a makeshift tail, and most importantly, if she’ll sing with crabs and fish “Under the Sea.”
Oh, and because we just had to ask, Reba fangirls can find out what JoAnna thinks about co-star Steve Howey, who played her character Cheyenne’s beau, Van, on The WB (R.I.P.) show for six seasons. Spoiler alert: She’s “determined” to work with him again!
Wetpaint Entertainment: Ariel has legs and also swims. How much was you in front of a green screen with a makeshift tail on, and how much for you was walking around with dinglehoppers?
I would say it was probably fifty-fifty. Even when you see me on the land, there’s a special tail they’ve created for me, but I literally, I had this incredible stunt double, and she really taught me how to swim like a mermaid. So there is a lot of green screen, but there’s a green screen everywhere in Fairytale Land! It’s probably half and half.
Was it tough to work with the screen? You haven’t done that in your career before, have you?
No, I haven’t. It was different. The challenge was more how do I look effortless in the water, because I, myself, am an amazing doggy paddler, so I was like, “How am I going to look like I really belong there?” So that was where a lot of the brain was working toward. But it was a lot of fun! I had a really good time. This whole experience is unlike anything I’ve ever done, and the one thing I love about it is that it doesn’t take a lot to make sense of things, because you really don’t have to make sense of things — you’re living in this magical world and I just think it’s so cool and it’s been so fun to be able to play this character. I really love her. I love Ariel.
In the version of The Little Mermaid we know, there’s a lot of singing. Will we see any of that?
No, I’m very delighted they didn’t choose to do the very musical episode of Once Upon a Time when Ariel came in because I probably wouldn’t have been the best girl for the job! [Laughs] I already was working really hard on swimming.
Lastly, I was a huge fan of yours on Reba. Do you still keep in touch with on-screen hubby Steve Howey, and would you ever work together again?
Yes, of course, yes! Steve is a gem of a human. I love him and he’s probably one of the more talented comedic actors I’ve ever know, and I Just feel really lucky to have been his partner for so long in that because he definitely made Cheyenne stand out. [Laughs] I was like, “I’m going to hold on tight to you, honey, and you’re gonna take me to the promised land!” He was a wonderful partner, and I’m actually determined to work with him again.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.