Ginnifer Goodwin isn’t exactly known for playing shrinking violets onscreen. In the ABC Family hit series Once Upon a Time, she plays Snow White like we’ve never seen the Disney princess before.
In Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast which is being released on Tuesday, March 3, she plays Fawn — a fairy with a penchant for breaking the rules.
In real life, though, Goodwin admits she’s decidedly less rebellious.
“I am a good girl,” Goodwin said, laughing. “I’ve always been a good girl. It’s almost like I was raised being rewarded before things would even happen, so I always tried to deserve my parents’ praise.”
That’s not to say Goodwin herself is a shrinking violet, either. The actress gravitates toward strong female roles because, well, she is a strong female. That much is made evident simply by asking her about the female-centric spirit of her recent roles.
“I think that everything I’ve ever done has been a bit feminist. I mean, I’ve always been on a female-driven series and I’ve been in movies about female oppression in terms of the periods of history in which I’ve depicted these women,” she explained, “so clearly I’m drawn to projects where not only are the women strong, but their friendships are as well.”
But these days, everything seems to bear a stigma, and playing a Disney princess doesn’t get Goodwin a “get out of jail free” card in the court of public opinion. There are those who claim Disney sends mixed messages to young girls — particularly when it comes to the studio’s princesses.
Goodwin, asserting her strong female voice, disagrees. Some of the films are dated, sure. But the studio is working on it and has made great strides on that front.
“Look at some of the more recent films that have come out,” she said. “Merida from Brave, and yes, the sisters in Frozen. How about that true love in that is about familial love and friendship and not about something romantic?”
Ultimately, it boils down to perspective, says Goodwin.
“You can make any message mixed if you’re taking films from different eras and throwing them all together but, you know, Snow White was made in the 1940s,” she said, quick to add, “And by the way, I work for the Disney company and I am playing Snow White the swashbuckler… that’s as feminist as it gets.”
As for diversity in the films, Goodwin insists Disney doesn’t lack progressiveness in that department, either, noting that some of the things detractors take issue with are “reflections of where we are a a society.”
She cites her own show as evidence of that diversity — pointing out that Once Upon a Time has a black Rapunzel — as well as the animated movie The Princess and the Frog.
“There are absolutely characters from diverse backgrounds in all of their films,” she told us, “and as things evolve, the characters will also evolve and the societies in which the characters live will evolve.”
Of course, Goodwin’s character on Once Upon a Time evolved in a way that spilled over into her personal life — she fell in love, married and started a sweet family with her on-screen husband, Prince Charming, also known as the oh-so-charming-in-real-life actor Josh Dallas.
Naturally, fans feel especially invested in the couple’s relationship, having followed its progression throughout the series. But does that ever blur the boundaries, we ask?
As it turns out, not really, which Goodwin credits largely to how well-written the characters are. But, she says, it also has a lot to do with the life she and Dallas lead personally.
“Josh and I, as people, we’re not really part of Hollywood socially, so it’s actually pretty easy for us to keep our private life behind closed doors,” she said.
“I had a publicist say to me once many, many years ago — when I asked, ‘How do I not get in magazines that aren’t fashion spreads?’ — and she said, ‘Be boring.’ I was like, ‘Great! That’s not a problem for me!'” Goodwin admitted, laughing. “I’ve nailed boring.”
Although her idea of boring still sounds pretty stellar to us. “Our idea of an amazing date is truly Disneyland, so there’s only so many times that story’s going to be covered — that Snow White and Prince Charming go to Disneyland — and everybody’s going to get bored of that, too.”
What the actress assures us is not boring in the least is their latest adventure together: parenting.
In fact, they find it pretty terrifying. “I don’t mean this to sound dark, but it kinda does,” she revealed, giggling. “We went through this thing in the beginning that was like, ‘How do we keep him alive?!'”
There are learning curves, Goodwin confesses, and then there’s the learning curve that comes with being a first-time parent sent home from the hospital 24 hours after giving birth to a teeny-tiny human.
“I would stay up all night, night after night, because what if he forgets to breathe and I need to remind him to breathe?” she said. “Or what if something happens and I miss it? The early days are terrifying that way.”
And in general, she shares, it’s a daunting thing “to see your heart outside of your body for the first time.”
With emotion visibly bubbling up to the surface, she says, “There’s such overwhelming love and joy that things become life or death at every moment, because the stakes of everything are so high since you are capable now of feeling so much pain.”
Like many first-time moms and dads, Goodwin and Dallas mistakenly thought they could prepare themselves for the experience by reading baby books and talking to other parents. (We’ve all been there, right?)
In truth, Goodwin found out, it’s the hardest thing she’s ever done. “I mean, not to mention the fact that sleep deprivation is a form of torture, so you’re doing everything on, like, a banana’s brain and somehow you make it happen,” she said. “I just think the whole thing is scary.”
But in the best way possible! She’ll be the first to admit that her priorities have changed markedly. These days, “there is nothing that makes my heart soar more than seeing my kid giggle.”
And she also acknowledges her admittance into “the club” that is motherhood and all that it entails.
“I thought that acting was creatively satisfying, and now I see that acting is not even a creative field. I am walking up to strangers in Starbucks — truly, like, women who have their kids in a Baby Bjorn — and I’m like, ‘You are an artist, and I would give you an Oscar for whatever it is you just did there,'” she said, laughing.
“Because that’s art. It’s a masterpiece,” she gushed. “They are alive, they are happy, they are learning things. It’s amazing. I want to give them all Golden Globes. It’s the best job ever.”