The Magicians’ Hale Appleman spoke with Hypable about where Eliot’s relationships are headed after the season 2 premiere.
Anyone who is a fan of The Magicians knows there’s nothing else like it on TV.
Have you ever seen a main character recite the Patrick Swayze monologue from Dirty Dancing to prove they’re ready to become nobility? I’m going to guess not.
But that’s exactly what Hale Appleman had to do while portraying the flamboyant, iconic, dandy of our dreams, Eliot Waugh.
A new phase of Eliot’s journey began last week as season 2 of The Magicians premiered. We spoke with Appleman about about that premiere and where Eliot’s road may take him.
If things sort of follow the books we know that Eliot’s going to be taking on a leadership role in Fillory. And I keep thinking about how he and Margo have been kind of playing at royalty at Brakebills for years now. So would you say it might be a natural fit for him?
You might think of Eliot as the unofficial prince of Brakebills and Margo as his partner in crime. You might think that becoming the High King and Queen of Fillory would be a really easy fit but… it’s not! It’s really not. Eliot is at the top of his class in Brakebills. He’s ascended to a kind of superior role at school. And he’s recreated himself in the image of a lot of powerful, you know, dandies. Dandies from litterateur, Oscar Wilde, glam rockers, David Bowie. People who shook up the status quo. Eliot is redefining himself as, or in the image of, many of these incredibly powerful men. That’s what he wants to be perceived as. Now, the Brakebills bubble is finite. There’s an end to it and he’s reached it. He’s basically unstoppable at school.
Fillory on the other hand is an unknown frontier. In which he’s actually tasked to rule the entire kingdom and the people of this kingdom; whom he’s never met and has entirely zero experience with. So it’s an incredible challenge. Eliot can’t just get by on whimsy and the life that he used to live. So he’s having to redefine himself in Fillory. And it takes quite a long time — in the life of the show — it takes quite a few episodes before Elliot truly is able to acknowledge his responsibility and his moral compass, in terms of rulership. It’s not easy for him at all.
I’ve gotten to see a couple episodes of season 2 and the coronation scene in episode 1 really struck me. It was probably my favorite moment from the show so far. And there’s a lot going on for Eliot, well for everyone, but especially for Eliot in that scene. There’s a lot of layers and there’s a lot of vulnerability and forgiveness. So I was wondering if you could talk about filming that and Eliot’s relationships with the different characters. How it’s almost like a fresh start for them.
Yeah, I think it’s a real unburdening of their hearts in that scene. It’s a rare moment where each of those characters Quentin, Margo, Alice, and Eliot are able to be upfront and clear. Emotionally transparent with each other. I think it’s really beautiful and I think they wrote a really beautiful scene for us and I’m so happy that we got to play it and that it made the cut. I think it was one of my favorite scenes to do. It was particularly touching for Eliot in a lot of ways.
For one I think that male friendship is something that Eliot didn’t have a lot of growing up and I think that when Quentin acknowledges him — his true belief in him — it strikes a chord in [Eliot] that… I just don’t think that he’s ever heard that from another male figure in his life. He certainly didn’t have that kind of support growing up from his family. And I don’t think he had many friends. So I think that Quentin, particularly, starts it off with a real truly heartfelt moment. It connects Eliot to a sense of belonging that he never had before.
Yeah I can definitely see that. And I actually had a question about the relationship between Quentin and Eliot. Because it seems like apart from Margo, Quentin is the closest person that Eliot has ever been to. At least that’s how it reads, so it makes sense that that’s a very special friendship to him.
Yeah it really is. I think Eliot and Margo’s connection goes without saying. They’re not in a particularly dark place throughout that episode, there’s a little bit of distance, but I think we know that they’ll always bury the hatchet and carry on with their relationship. Eliot and Alice have a moment. I think it’s nice that Eliot is able to get over himself enough to acknowledge that he may have truly hurt Alice. In a way that was a real betrayal of their burgeoning friendship. I think that Eliot has a tremendous amount of respect for Alice as a magician and as a person. Her ideals — while he wouldn’t necessarily share — I think he sort of does appreciate those things about her. And that becomes clear when crowns her Alice the Wise. Someone who has some semblance of foresight and wisdom outside of her immediate sensory desires and needs.
For sure. That was a really interesting moment between them. I wouldn’t have necessarily seen it coming but as soon as it happened it felt right. It was really nice. Next I was going to ask about Margo and Eliot, their relationship and dynamic is the most interesting to me on the show so far. Just because it’s so unusual and so layered and just interesting. But their codependency, it also scares me a little bit? And I was wondering if that bond was going to either be a strength or a weakness in terms of ruling a kingdom.
That’s a really great question. Yeah, it’s true, they have quite a codependent bond. Which, I don’t think is healthy by any standard. In the sense that they are the only other person that they’ve had to rely on, in large part, in their adult lives. I think that perhaps it was a necessity at some point. For them to become as close as they did, in the way that they did, it was unavoidable. But their relationship might experience some growing pains this season as they uncover that they have slightly different styles of rulership. They don’t necessarily see the world the same way. They don’t have the same world view.
You think they would in one respect, but the more you get to know them, they really do look at things quite differently.
They’re very different people. They view the world very differently. Margo, she really shoots from the hip and she’s a straight talker and she says exactly what she means. She sometimes takes it a little far, but I think that she’s direct and she doesn’t question herself. And I think Eliot has very carefully constructed this persona. And so his way through the world is one in which he’s sort of wearing this mask. Margo’s mask is one of defiance and strength and a kind of cut throat way with words. You could say something similar about Eliot but I think he’s a bit more considered in his approach to the world around him.
There’s definitely a softness to Eliot that I rarely see in Margo, or that she rarely allows herself to feel. But yeah. I don’t know if they’re going to grow apart because of that or grow together. I’m just really interested in that dynamic.
Yeah, I think you watch them struggle with their own dynamic. In terms of power. In terms of ruling a kingdom. In terms of their own moral compasses.
On Page 2: Appleman on Eliot’s cravings for intimacy and… sex
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