C. Molly Smith
Updated Aug 02, 2017 @ 5:41 am

Going into Season 7 of Once Upon a Time, Andrew J. West has the unique challenge of taking over the role of Henry. It makes sense, then, that the actor (Greek, Middle Man) found the task of coming into an established world and playing a well-defined character a bit daunting.

Daunting, yes — but also exciting.

That’s because enough time has passed in Once Upon a Time‘s world for he and the team to be able to play with who Henry is and where he’s at in life.

West added, teasing the season ahead: “He’s gone through some very significant changes, which will be explored early on in Season 7. They’re surprising and exciting.” Well, our curiosity is piqued…

It should be noted that Season 7 won’t be the first time we’ve seen West as Adult Henry.

He appeared in the role at the end of Season 6, and really seemed to capture the essence of his predecessor.

“I’m sure that there was some sort of subconscious influence,” West said of the younger Henry’s mannerisms. “I mean. I’ve certainly been very steeped in the show ever since I got the job. I’ve been watching the episodes constantly — going back, looking at the pilot. I didn’t make a conscious effort to capture mannerisms, but I’m sure a lot of that influenced what I was doing.”

But more than that, West looked to Henry’s relationships to inform his choices. “I really wanted to take a lot of inspiration from the dynamic of the relationship between Emma and Henry, and Regina and Henry — really let those dynamics inspire what I was doing. That’s essentially where this person came from, you know? That’s what molded him into the person that he is.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cHN1K_BlWY

While West might not have actively been trying to tap into Gilmore’s mannerisms, Lana Parrilla — who plays Regina/Evil Queen — said that West and Gilmore are actually quite similar.

Considering, Parrilla feels confident that this is a relationship that’s going to work. She’s already taken steps to find their groove, and asked West for help in that process. “I said, ‘I hope you’re comfortable with me touching your face and doing things that I used to do with Jared because I’ve known Jared since he was 10 years old. Jared is like my boy.’ Andrew was very open to it. He was like, ‘Do whatever you need to do to recreate that relationship with me.'”

Parrilla added, “I have a lot of faith in Andrew. I think he already organically possesses a sort of Jared-like quality.” Well, talk about an endorsement! That’s certainly got us excited for the season ahead, and Adult Henry’s arc in particular.

Once Upon a Time returns to ABC on October 6th.