“Once Upon a Time” star Rebecca Mader confirmed via social media Thursday night that season six of the ABC show will be her last.
The actress, who joined the cast as Wicked Witch Zelena in season three of the Emmy-winning drama, addressed her ousting in a statement shared with her fans on Instagram. “A lot of you have been asking if I will be joining everyone in Season 7, so I wanted to let you know personally that unfortunately I am not,” she wrote, before stating that the decision was out of her control. “This wasn’t my choice but a creative decision of the show’s that I totally respect and understand.”
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To my Darling Pretties, First of all I would like to start by congratulating Adam, Eddie, Lana, Bobby and Colin on the pick up of Once Upon A Time! I am truly happy for you all and most importantly for the fans that will get to keep tuning in each week to see where they will take us. A lot of you have been asking if I will be joining everyone in Season 7, so I wanted to let you know personally that unfortunately I am not. This wasn't my choice but a creative decision of the shows that I totally respect and understand. The most important thing is that you all know how much you mean to me. I am told frequently both online and in person that by being a part of such a special show I have in some way changed someone's life. This is hugely meaningful to me. I am here to let you know that I am the one who has been changed. Not just by playing such a well written multi-dimensional character but by the fandom itself. I have heard your stories, your pain, your struggles, your achievements and I have truly felt you. I have learned. I have grown. I am a better person because of you, the fans and everyone that blessed me with this opportunity to play such an iconic role. Congrats all and thank you! I look forward to the next. I invite you to come with me on this journey. I am forever changed. And I'm wicked. And Wicked Always Wins. Forever yours, Bex 💚
The announcement comes as a surprise as Zelena’s half-sister Regina (Lana Parrilla) is expected to return for season seven.
On Thursday, it was announced that ABC renewed the fairytale series for a seventh season, which is set to receive a major revamp upon its return to the small screen.
Jennifer Morrison, who plays Emma Swan — the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming — also announced this week that the current season would mark her final appearance on the series.
Following Mader’s announcement, The Hollywood Reporter reports that she and Morrison won’t be the only stars to exit, with several other members of the “OUAT” cast following them out the door at the end of the current season.
According to THR, stars Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming), Jared Gilmore (Henry) and Emile de Ravin (Belle) also exiting the show, confirmed by “OUAT” showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.
“Words can’t do justice to what Ginny, Josh, Emilie, Rebecca and Jared brought to ‘Once Upon a Time’ … but we’ll try …” reads a joint statement from Kitsis and Horowitz, adding: “Never have we had the privilege of working with a more talented group of collaborators.”
The statement continues: “Each brought unique talent, incredible intelligence, and their own individual bit of magic as they gave life to these iconic characters. … We can’t thank them enough for the hard work, dedication and passion they delivered day in and day out. Without them there would be no ‘Once Upon a Time’. As ‘Once’ continues, this group will always be the beating heart of the show. And even though we won’t be with them every week, in a show about magic and hope, we fervently believe it won’t be the last we see of them.”
As THR reports, Morrison will return for one episode next season in order to wrap up her character’s storyline, while the focus of the show will shift to focus on returning Lana Parrilla (Regina), Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold) and Colin O’Donoghue (Captain Hook) in the “rebooted seventh season that is said to include a big time jump.”
The shakeup comes as the series suffered a 30 per cent drop in live ratings from season five.