Landing a role on Once Upon a Time as one of the show's remixed versions of a beloved Disney character can be something of a double-edged sword. Just ask their new Jasmine, Karen David.
After making her first brief appearance in Storybrooke two episodes back, David's Princess of Agrabah took center stage in this week's episode "Street Rats" as her quest to find Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz), Agrabah's very own savior, became public knowledge. The introduction of the iconic characters came with the requisite OUAT twists (Jasmine brought Aladdin to the Cave of Wonders, not Jafar, and the two never found time to give in to their romantic feelings), as well as a few winking nods to the unforgettable 1992 animated film. Four words: Jasmine in an hourglass.
With Jasmine's quest to reclaim her beloved empire from the villainous Jafar (Oded Fehr) taking its place as one of this season's central storylines, that balance of originality and homage will only get trickier. And David's aware of it.
"For me, it was really exciting to take on the role of Jasmine and also nerve-wracking at the same time because she's such an iconic and beloved character and all the fans have their idealism of what she should and shouldn't be," the actress told E! News. "So for me, it was trying to find that beautiful balance of her intelligence, her passion and commitment to family and love, and her beliefs and royal obligations—it's trying to find that balance, which, trust me, it keeps me on my toes every second that I'm playing her because I just want to make all the Jasmine and Aladdin fans really proud."
However nerve-wracking it may be, the former Galavant star is still counting her lucky stars over having the opportunity to bring the princess to life. "I love the fact that they've paid homage to these iconic moments in the film, with...the hourglass. I was so excited when the visual effects guys showed me. I felt like a little girl," she told us. "Throughout this whole journey, it's like the little girl in me. I never thought in a million years as a little girl, or certainly as a pubescent teenage, pimply adolescent, that I would one day be playing this wonderful and iconic princess. I literally have to pinch myself, and that was certainly a pinch myself moment thinking 'Wow, this is for real and I've got to make sure that I keep the fans happy and do her justice.'"
In this Sunday's episode, Jasmine will enlist Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to try and convince Aladdin to work with her to save Agrabah, Savior to Savior. Only hitch? As the street rat revealed last week, he made quick use of Jafar's magical shears and rid himself of his Savior powers. "Everyone knows except for Jasmine," David said, laughing. "I think Jasmine is just so focused on and steadfast to her mission because her kingdom is falling apart right in front of her eyes. So, she's blind to a lot of things. That's what's to come in the next few episodes—finding out. Or if Aladdin tells her or not. If he decides to tell her or not is one thing."
When Jasmine eventually does bring the fight to Jafar in Agrabah, Savior or no Savior, expect a major uphill battle. "Well, we know this is Once Upon a Time, right? So no path is ever smooth. No path is ever going to be easy. [Laughs] Because that wouldn't be any fun! There's going to be a lot of twists and turns and unexpected surprises," David previewed. "Jafar is a very powerful villain and he is on this path of destruction which is guided by his increasing greed…He will do anything that he needs to do to get rid of her because Jasmine is very much standing in the way of the empire. That's the ultimate power that he wants. Expect a lot of battles."
Might some of her new friends from Storbyrooke make the trip home with her? "Through friendships that are being made...there's a lot of influence and guidance and advice from everyone in Storybrooke, which plays a huge impact with how Jasmine and Aladdin approach the upcoming challenges—these huge challenges—that they're about to face," she said. "I can tell you that they have the support of everyone. It's just a question of how they move forward and how they deal with Agrabah falling and with Jafar."
And what about the love between Jasmine and Aladdin? Will we see them sharing a romantic magic carpet ride any time soon, or is this truly a whole new world? "Don't worry, for sure they're exploring that, but it's going to be in their Once twist, which is wonderful," David said. "Also, I think it's just a reflection of reality. Love isn't a straight course. There's got to be all these different shades and colors and everything that happens in between. That's what we'll see. Ultimately, that bonds them more together—hopefully."
Where's the genie in a magic lamp ready to grant wishes when you need one?
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.