Actress Karen David has no doubt led a fairy-tale existence over the last couple of years, having the rare opportunity to play not one but two princesses in two different ABC series. From 2015 until earlier this year, David played the lovable Princess Isabella on the musical comedy series Galavant, and this fall, she joined the smash fantasy drama Once Upon a Time (OUAT) as the legendary Princess Jasmine opposite Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz) as the newest characters to come to Storybrooke.
“Galavant was more about poking fun at the genre of fairy tales,” David said, laughing at the lighthearted nature of the series. “But certainly with Once Upon a Time, it’s like a childhood fairy tale dream come true. Every little girl has their choice of which Disney princesses they want to be and I had quite a few, and Jasmine was definitely up on the top of the list. As a kid you just dream and play princesses with your other girlfriends, and never in a million years did I dream of playing this iconic character. It’s an honor and something I don’t take lightly because I know that there are young girls out there who look up to Jasmine. I just hope that I’m doing justice to the character and they are all happy.”
The effervescent David recently spoke with D23.com about her opportunity to play Jasmine, her magic carpet-riding co-star and her Once Upon a Time experiences as the show prepares for its Winter Finale on December 4.
D23: Granted, the Aladdin storyline in Once Upon a Time isn’t a remake of the Disney animated classic, but do you feel some sort of sense of responsibility carrying the torch forward? Karen David (KD): I feel a sense of responsibility, yes, and I also celebrate the fact that we’re exploring uncharted territory here with the Once twist that (creators) Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis and the amazing writing team have put together. I love the fact that they went right to the beginning of the relationship between Aladdin and Jasmine and how they met, yet we don’t know how their journey evolves. I really find it exciting not knowing what’s going to happen. Yes, we have this movie as this wonderful backdrop and everyone knows that classic story, but I love that we have these two iconic characters who are being put in the backdrop of Storybrooke. Now we get to see the dynamics of how they are with each other and other people not only in Agrabah, but in real life. I think that’s what makes the show so special and unique. You get to see iconic Disney characters and how they would be in everyday life.
D23: Did playing Princess Isabella on Galavant have an influence in your casting as Jasmine on Once Upon a Time? KD: A lot of the fans of Galavant are also Once Upon a Time fans, so immediately when they started seeing pictures of me as Isabella, there was a quality about her that fans all said, “OK, hang on a second, Karen would make the perfect Jasmine”—so they went to social media and kept telling me that. They kept saying, “If there’s ever a live-action film or if it ever came to Once Upon a Time, would you want to play Jasmine?” Of course, my answer was, “Heck, yeah! I would love to.” I just never thought that serendipity would come to play so soon after. We all were a little brokenhearted when Galavant came to an end, but everything happens for a reason and timing could not have been more perfect. As soon as Galavant finished, the Jasmine role came up.
D23: What surprised you most about the role of Jasmine? KD: What I find so wonderful and exciting in the storyline is how Jasmine deals with the challenges she faces. What’s so great about Once Upon a Time is that nothing is straightforward and perfect. When challenges and problems arise, it’s up to that character to rise to the challenge. Jasmine right now is being tested to the nines because she has to find another way of helping Agrabah and her people. Of course, she finds out that Aladdin has used the Shears of Destiny (to sever the path to becoming the Savior of Agrabah) and he no longer has his magic, so that’s a massive setback. Obviously, everything was riding on him because he was the Savior. So now, this is also a wonderful opportunity for Aladdin to rise to the challenge of finding other ways that he can help Jasmine and their quest for bringing down Jafar (Oded Fehr), and restoring peace and unity in Agrabah.
D23: You and Deniz work so incredibly well together. Did you two instantly feel the chemistry? KD: Absolutely, but I’m also a romantic at heart and I love a great romantic story. Aladdin is such an iconic romantic story and I was so excited to jump right in. So, part of the chemistry that I hope I’m bringing comes from the adoration and excitement for the storyline itself. It’s also such a bonus when you get to work with someone like Deniz, who’s very funny, very cheeky and very playful, and we just have a lot of fun together on-set. I’m just happy that fans of the show can see that there’s this connection, chemistry and a special bond between us and it resonates on the screen.
D23: You have a wonderful musical background, which includes some singing on Galavant. Do you think you can talk Eddy and Adam into having you and Deniz perform A Whole New World at some point? KD: When I first got the role of Jasmine, that’s the first thing I thought about—that it would be so wonderful to sing it because that’s their theme song! When you think of Aladdin, you think of “A Whole New World.” I know that a lot of fans would love a musical episode, so one can hope and dream. A lot of fans want Deniz and me to do a duet together, but Deniz insists that he doesn’t sing. I asked him if he’s being modest and he says, “No, no, no. I can’t sing.” I know Josh (Dallas) and Colin (O’Donoghue) have offered to sing, and Deniz can just open his mouth and pretend (laughs)!
D23: You clearly have a great rapport with fans on social media, and I see that they even refer to themselves as #Jasminians on Twitter. How did that come about? KD: They picked the name when the news came out that I had joined the cast. They taught me the ways of OUAT fandom and said I had to name my group, like Lana (Parrilla), who has #EvilRegals, and Bex (Mader), who has #MyPretties. So, I put out a vote and said, “OK, guys, you can come up with a name” and they chose #Jasminians. (Laughs)
D23: I know you can’t talk specifics about the Winter Finale, other than that Jasmine is going to be a part of it. My guess for the episode is that fans will not be disappointed. KD: There’s a lot that kicks off in the Winter Finale, as always. Put it this way, there isn’t a dull moment for any of the characters, and I think the fans are going to be very, very happy.
É você que tem os olhos tão gigantes e a boca tão gostosa, eu não vou aguentar. Senta aqui do lado e tira logo a roupa, esquece o que não importa nem vamos conversar. Olha bem mulher, eu vou te ser sincero quero te ver de branco, quero te ver no altar. Não tem medo não
eu sei vai dar errado, a gente fica longe e volta a namorar depois. Olha bem mulher eu vou te ser sincero, eu to com uma vontade danada de te entregar todos beijos que eu não te dei. E eu to com uma saudade apertada de ir dormir bem cansado e de acordar do teu lado pra te dizer que eu te amo.
He had been hit, his shoulder was bleeding all over the place, she patched him up and he ruined her dress.
Not that she cared. Karen just sat there, tending to his wound, asking him if he was ok, if he was hurt somewhere else, telling him to stay, he couldn’t go out like that.
Only she sat too close. Has been sitting too close, lately, and he did nothing to stop it. He had been touching her a lot more, too, and she didn’t seem to mind. That time they took the subway to and from Brooklyn, they sat close together, his whole right side pressed against her left side, on an empty car at almost one in the morning.
So… I did I thing. Short. Sweet… ok.. maybe not sweet?
She’d hit him. Bam. Right in the jaw. Heard a crack, felt bones crunch. He deserved it. How dare he come into her life again, demanding why she was allowing Frank into her house. It was her house! She’d let death himself in if she wanted! Well, now she was holding her hand to her chest, eyes wide with anger as she stared Matt down.
“You can leave now.”
Matt worked his jaw in a slow circle. He had to admit that he honestly hadn’t seen that coming. “You can’t be friends with the Punisher, Karen.”
Karen lifted her chin, defiance written on her face. “I’m not friends with the Punisher–” she glared as she saw him visibly relax. “I’m friends with Frank.”
Matt’s expression turned from relieved to aggravation. He took a step toward her. “He’s dangerous, Karen. And I know you’ve been around him.”
Karen felt her jaw tense, her heart began beating wildly against her ribs. “You’ve been spying on me, Matt?” She hissed.
“Keeping an eye on you.” He corrected.
Well, that was just it. Karen marched right up to him, feeling brave. “I will hit you again.” She said it lowly. “Get. Out.”
When he’d left she took the time to hiss and shake out her sore knuckles.
“You know, he’s right. I am dangerous.”
His guttural voice didn’t startle her. It rasped across her skin in a pleasant way and Karen turned to look at him, kneeling on her fire eacape, peering in through the open window with an amused expression. His dark eyes flickered down to her hand and he tsked. “I need to teach you how to throw a punch, don’t I?”
Karen glowered at him, turned on her heel and stalked toward the freezer. “No. I can do it just fine.”
“Sure, if you want to break a knuckle.” He rumbled as he folded himself inside her apartment. He looked too big for the space. Too hard, too masculine against her feminine decor. He also looked bemused. Like, he wasn’t entirely sure why he was there.
“Did you come over for a reason, Frank? Or just to criticize my fighting style?” Karen snapped and she was momentarily stunned as he began to laugh.
“Fighting style? Please, ma'am.”
“You got that right. Now c'mere. Let me see that.” And then he was in front of her, taking the bag of peas away and examining her knuckles. His face was peppered in bruises (when was it not?) and he looked tired. His big hands, roughly calloused, worked over the bones of her right hand. She winced, but only slightly, when he worked the pad of his thumb over her first knuckle and his eyes flickered upward to her face. “Just bruised.” He rumbled, softly.
Karen looked up and met his gaze, held. She swallowed, felt her cheeks getting hot. And, almost like he knew, his hand dropped away from her. She could see the confusion in his eyes, he was wondering why he was here. “It’s alright to feel, Frank.”
Her jerked, as if she had slapped him and blinked once, twice and she hadn’t noticed how blown out his pupils had been until that moment. “I don’t get to feel anymore, Karen.”
It was the first time she had ever heard him use her first name and it was so soft, like he was afraid to actually say it. Whispered in that sexy and gruff voice he possessed. And then he was moving, moving to fold himself out of her window again and Karen was stepping forward, her breath shuddering between her teeth.
Frank met her eyes as he was half in and half out of the window, his face lost all that hardness that it usually had and softened. It was so brief, so swift that Karen wondered if she had imagined it. Those big eyes held hers for a solid beat and then he was ducking back out, muttering something before he vanished into the night.
Later, Karen decided that she had simply wasted too many hours wondering on those three words she swore she had heard. And, as she climbed into bed, they swam around in her skull. ‘You deserve better.’
“No, I don’t.” Was all she whispered as she flicked the lights out.
I feel like Mike Wheeler is the kid who tells his mom at the last minute before running off to school that, oh yeah, all four of his best friends are coming over tonight for a D&D campaign and are probably staying for dinner, and Karen is just like, “Oh, right, the three other sons and one daughter of mine that live here. How could I forget them?” (Though she really doesn’t mind having El over all the time because at least that girl offers to help set the table and wash the dishes)
As per Deadline, the project — which will mark the feature debut of
Joe Sill — centers on an orphaned teenage girl who forms an unlikely friendship with the detective investigating her mother’s murder; together they will uncover the supernatural force that threatens her family.