As Cyrus, Once Upon A Time in Wonderland's genie, Peter Gadiot is playing a character who has been trapped in a bottle for what the show describes as "countless lifetimes" and therefore has been unable to have any sort of life for himself, let alone real relationships or interactions past granting some possibly bad people some powerful wishes. Until Alice (Sophie Lowe) comes along, that is, though. And that bond, per Gadiot, changes everything for Cyrus.
"He's been trapped in this bottle for, they say countless lifetimes, and we don't know exactly how long that is-- a few hundred years-- and he hasn't had the power of self-determination, which is a horrible thing not to have because you don't have your own freedom. And he's been, for lack of better word, a slave to other people's desires, and also I think what's really sad, apart from the innate sadness of being a prisoner, is that he's only been in touch with people who are very flawed and very selfish. So can you imagine you've been alone for a while and someone comes to you who's a horrible person, just very selfish, very 'me, me, me', so I think he's just seen the worst of humanity, and then Alice comes along, and she's this spark of truth and honesty and hope and she gives him faith that people can be good," Gadiot said when LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with him in Vancouver.
Just how much Alice means to Cyrus (and perhaps vice versa) is something that will be explored pretty quickly. Gadiot said that episodes two through five will really showcase the "bulk" and "results" of that past relationship, and though Alice is very much on a mission with the Knave (Michael Socha) in present-day Wonderland, their connection is still very strong.
"In episodes one and two it's his real time relationship with Alice and just kind of in the moment of how they're playing things...And then episodes three to six, it's very much about the situation he finds himself in, and to be honest with you, he's kind of powerless [again]," Gadiot said.
"There's some fear because they've been separated, but he can still inspire her because there's this connection that we've hinted at, the depth of [which] we're not sure really."
But Cyrus himself is still something of a mystery, and one of the elements of the new ABC fantastical series that Gadiot is most looking forward to is exploring the internal struggles and journey for Cyrus-- the who he was before the bottle, the why he was stuck in there, and therefore the potentially great dichotomy compared to the man we meet at the start of the series.
"Episode eight is very much a big episode for Cyrus. We'll learn more about him, and then later on in the season we're going to do the whole backstory thing, which I'm very excited about, and we're going to figure out how Cyrus got in the bottle-- how did he become a genie? It's very interesting because I don't think genies are just born, you know? I think they're made through some sort of-- in my opinion-- punishment. So I'm thinking what did Cyrus the man do to deserve this kind of servitude?" Gadiot said.
"I think it would be more interesting if he was kind of an evil person because the bottle seems like a punishment, right? If he was the way he is now-- because the way he is now is genuine, and he's honest, and he has that kind of wisdom-- that kind of slight Dalai Lama-esque knowledge of the world and you know that actual compassion and purity of the heart on the way to happiness-- he wouldn't have been punished. So I'm really interested to know what he did and what he was like."
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland airs on ABC on Thursday nights at 8 p.m.
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