If you love The Magicians then you’re going to love what the cast had to say about season 3. Check out our interviews from our set visit!
The Magicians is set to come back for its third outing in just over a week and with a new season of twisted magic and epic quests coming up we’ve got exclusive content to help quench your thirst until the show returns to our screens.
When we got a chance to visit the set late in 2017, we also sat down and chatted with series regulars Trevor Einhorn (Josh), Olivia Studley (Alice), Jade Taylor (Kady), Brittany Curan (Fen), Hale Appleman (Eliot), Summer Bishil (Margo), as well as showrunner Sera Gamble.
Check out our character breakdown below to find out what your favorite magician might be doing next year.
Fresh face, Josh Hoberman
You’ll remember Josh as the guy who was part of the missing Brakebills class of 2014, and he was found by Eliot, Alice, Penny and Margo in the Netherlands (the in-between land filled with fountain portals to other worlds, not Amsterdam) after escaping the Beast in Fillory. Since then he’s been serving as Eliot and Margo’s chef at the castle, while simultaneously concocting drugs of all sorts, as is his hobby.
Einhorn, who plays Josh, has been promoted to series regular along with Curan, who plays Fen.
We’ve only seen Josh a handful of times in the past, so will he be around more this season?
“Josh is sort of around and here to stay. [He] becomes a part of the Brakebills family and dives in the world he’s so passionate about. We get to go on some fun adventures, it’s great.
Everyone in this show has their own issues to deal with, and those issues clearly help these characters find power in their magic. What is Josh dealing with this season?
“What is it like to not hide behind the joke? You know, like, you have magic as a perfect escapism but if you’re the guy who’s sort of being the comic-relief, what is it like when you have to deal with real struggle and real serious emotion? Now that magic is gone at the end of season 2, who is he? Does he even know who he is anymore? That’s where Josh is at in the moment, a little anxious.
We’re eager to learn more about the guy who’s so far just been comic-relief. Can you share anything about his backstory?
“I can’t [say much], I will say though that you are definitely going to find out the whole situation in season 3. There’s a whole, sort of, background, some future, and how he got to where he is. He sort of pops in and has a good time, we have these fun epic moments but we don’t know why or how he got there. Is there more to this? I’m excited to tackle a lot of those questions.
There’s a lot of fun dynamic we can play with. Josh is sort of that guy who’s been around and you’re familiar with him but who is he? Haha, just because we know him and we can say hi to him who is he really? That’s been fun to play with.”
The knowledgable, ex-Niffin Alice Quinn
Undeniably the character with the craziest arc so far, Alice Quinn has literally died and come back to life. Last season she became a Niffin in an attempt to kill the Beast and was reluctantly brought back to life by Quentin, who couldn’t bear to lose her. Now that she’s back she’s got a shit ton of knowledge and a lot of feelings to deal with, but she could be the key to getting magic back in season 3.
It’s clear that Alice preferred being a Niffin, but I feel like she also might enjoy the challenge to get magic back. So how does she go about this? Does she work with others or is she more solo this season?
“Alice has a really complicated relationship with magic, more complicated than everyone else because she’s the only one who was born into it. She’s had it her whole life and never really wanted it, she only went to Brakebills to save her brother. She keeps stumbling into magic and has somehow stumbled into the most powerful magic of becoming a Niffin, unlike everyone else, who spent their whole life being lost and just wanting magic so bad.
Now that magic is gone I think she’s the only one questioning whether magic should be trusted in anyone’s hands. When she was a Niffin she got to learn what real magic was like and how powerful it is, and she’s slowly remembering over the season what she learned as a Niffin. I get to explore a lot of what she’s learned as a Niffin, so I think this year it’s her questioning how she feels about magic.
I think everyone else is like, gung ho, we want magic, how do we get it? It’s like all they can see and they’re blind to anything else. Alice is the one who’s questioning if we should even have magic.
That being said, she loved being a Niffin. Drunk off its power, she’d still love to have that again. She’s really conflicted, and in the ultimate corner of crisis because she died and came back and is still a 20-something.”
What can you tease about what’s coming after Alice this season?
“At the end of season 2 we had that scene that something called the Lamprey was chasing her and this season we get to see who Alice pissed off when she was a Niffin. I like to think that when you’re in ‘Niffinland,’ as I call it, time and space is very different. Even if she was gone for a week on Earth, that might’ve been millions or thousands of years in Niffinland.
Alice did a lot of damage in the Niffin world and she’s pissed off a lot of people. At the beginning of the season we get to find out how she deals with that. That said, Alice is a really ballsy woman, really intelligent and smart so she doesn’t run from anything. I think this year you’ll get to see her go head on towards any big bad that comes towards her, which was really fun to play.
She never feels weak to me, even though this year she’s really lost and confused. Alice has always been the strongest and this year we get to see her feel weak but for Alice that’s still super strong, comparatively, to most people.”
Seeing Alice grow over the years, she’s always refrained from trying her hardest and when she does try her hardest something phenomenal always happens. Will we get to see that happen again?
“Yes. The first half of the season everyone is really struggling and halfway through the season things start to pick up for all of them in their different areas. Alice spends a lot of time this year on her own journey, but I get to have scenes with a lot of the actors I haven’t had a chance to work with. It brings out another side of Alice we’ve never seen before, which I think is really fun.
Alice is still somebody you don’t wanna piss off. I think when she was a Niffin, which was exciting to play, a lot of that stuck with her and she’s just her true self. No matter what she’s a powerful magician, and she can’t avoid it.”
Are we going to see more of Quentin and Alice’s relationship now that they’ve hooked up at the end of season 3, or is there not really time for them?
“I think, at the heart of the books… that’s the heart of them, him trying to get Alice back. We’re not fully through the books but we’re also really far along in them — she becomes a Niffin and gets brought back which happens in the third book – so we’re kind of in new territory with these characters. I think that they are madly in love with each other no matter what, and it’s complicated.
This year they’re just on quests and bigger things are at hand — survival, which is always the theme with this show, these kids never seem to be able to get laid.
….well, they can get laid but they just can’t seem to have relationships! It’s not finished with those two, and we get to see them interact but I think it’s something that might get drawn out for a long time. She’s very pissed off at Quentin for bringing her back from Niffinland.”
The true friend, Kady Orlaf-Diaz
Kady Orlaf-Diaz has struggled with a lot the past couple of seasons. In season 1 she lost her mother, and at the end of season 2 she’s on the cusp of losing the love of her life, Penny. But despite all of that she’s stuck with her friends and helped Julia track down Reynard to get vengeance for her and what he did to her. But when the time came, Julia let Reynard go, so everything Kady did was almost for nothing.
How does Kady deal with the loss of Reynard?
“I think the thing that really affected Kady wasn’t necessarily the loss of him. Yes, that was a huge part of it, but she went on this mission for Julia and then to be betrayed in that way, that was what was so heart wrenching I think.
Unfortunately, Kady has lost a lot of people in her life. The last person being her mom, and now in a huge way she thinks she’s lost Julia because she doesn’t know what is her shade and what’s not. [Kady] was really affected by the betrayal and the backstabbing and the fact that she had to do all of these things, and she did do all of these things to help Julia, to kill Reynard, and it was for nothing because Julia decided to let him go.
I don’t think she deals well with that at all, but I think at the end of the season what’s more challenging is the fact that Penny is sick and potentially dying. That, combined with the heartbreak of what happened with Julia is really challenging for her at the beginning of the season.”
Does she feel like she still has a place in this group of friends, or does she kind of feel excluded now especially because of the things with Julia?
“Kady has always felt a bit like an outsider, I think it’s hard for her to be vulnerable and feel safe with people. It took a while with her to feel that way with Julia, and when she finally did it was even more heart wrenching because that relationship sort of died.
It also took a while for her to get vulnerable with Penny. Yeah, they had sex but the vulnerability and the trust came later. I think the relationship with the others is sort of by necessity, in a lot of ways. You’ll see a little bit more of her communicating with the other characters this year, which is really fun, because she needs them in order to get things done.”
What relationship are you most excited to explore this season?
“You know, there’s a lot of them but I’m really excited that we get to see a dynamic between Kady and Josh. That was really fun, I love Trevor so much. That was a really fun dynamic to play around with, but there are other characters too that I can’t mention because they’re coming back. You’ll have to see! Haha, it’s hard not to spoil things.”
With Penny, is Kady’s concern more about Penny than saving magic?
“Oh, absolutely. She doesn’t care about magic, she cares about people and she cares about Penny. She wants to save magic in order to save Penny at the end of the day. She survived, and I think the need for magic is more prominent in the other characters. She can punch someone out and be fine, she’s proven many times that she doesn’t need magic to get by, it doesn’t define her.
With some of the other characters I think it defines them, so I think really the only reason why she wants magic is because it’s a magical disease that’s taken over and so the only way she feels she can save him is by getting magic back.”
The Fillorian with two husbands, Fen
Originally the daughter of a sword-smith, Fen’s destiny became entwined with Eliot’s when her father required he married her in order to get the weapon that can kill a God. Initially untrusting of the humans in Fillory, Fen’s tune has changed after getting to know Eliot and his friends. With her baby taken away because of a deal made by Margot, Fen will be struggling to not only help the gang get their magic back but also to get her baby back as well.
What can you tease about Fen’s struggle with having to deal with the fairies and get your child back?
“It’s definitely a struggle! It’s the biggest struggle of Fen’s life, and I can say that it propels her into a psychological state and place of being she’s never been before. Her journey takes turns that it’s never taken before, which is both empowering and terrifying and she’s trying to figure that out.”
Where do Fen’s loyalties lie? Do they lie with Eliot or was that more forced?
“First and foremost, her loyalty is with Fillory. It’s always been there, so when Eliot first comes in she’s still 100% with Fillory. But then she finally sees that Eliot and Margo do have Fillory in their hearts, and they really do care about it. Her loyalties do end up with them, and Fen does end up confiding in them and believing in them.
Now, whether it’s the path Fen thought it would go or whether Fen doesn’t feel as valued as she should be in her own her own home, that’s kind of what [Fillorians] have felt their whole lives. These children of Earth come in and act like its their own home, so it’s definitely difficult but she does end up truly caring about Margot and Eliot – even if it’s complicated.
She does genuinely care about them, and that’s why she breaks out of the fairy world and leaves her daughter behind, because she has to save Fillory [but also] Eliot and Margo at all costs, at the end of season 2.”
Is Fen jealous of Eliot’s husband?
“No, not in the normal sense of jealousy. In Fillory, the way people are raised is that it’s normal to have both a husband and a wife, so nobody would bat an eye at having both. Fen’s problem is that he just did it without telling her, it’s kind of like having an open relationship but it’s all about communication and trust. That’s how it is in Fillory — yeah, that’s a norm and I’m still your wife and even though we were both forced into it, essentially, we still respect each other and have to have that agreement.
But you know, Fen’s not mad that he’s also handsome and charming! Fen now has two handsome, charming husbands!”
The one that magic can never lose, Julia Wicker
Julia’s relationship with magic is… complicated. We learned in season 1 that she’s always been a part of Brakebills in the 38 other time loops Quentin and his friends have been forced through. The one time she didn’t learn about magic through school, she was connected to it in a way that no one else was and found it anyway. Her discipline was meta-composition, a knowledge based one, and it’s safe to say that her connection to magic is probably the strongest of all the group. Will her connection prove to be the key to getting magic back?
At the end of season 2 we saw Julia get a spark of magic, so going into season 3 is it safe to say she’s the one with the biggest connection to it? Does she feel a sort of weight on her shoulders because of it?
“She’s the only one with magic. I think at first it’s uncomfortable and kind of like, ‘Why does she have this?’ Her and Quentin, we take off season 3 with them on the journey of why she has it, and why she’s the only one with this ability. As the season progresses we come to find out that it is a part of her, and it’s about acceptance, right?
You go through the seven steps of grief only to succumb to acceptance and she wants to help people with it and use it for good and every time she does it grows. She feels better, and [the group] feels batter and it’s nice to see this character be empathetic and want to become kind and do good things. It’s a total 180 for this person, which is amazing.”
Yes! Julia got magic taken away from her and was so upset about it she was doing all these things without even realizing what she was doing.
“Totally. She became power hungry, and it came from an egotistical or selfish place in season 1. She was frustrated and angry and fighting, and now it’s sort of like the struggle is over. You get to see her do everything with an ease. She’s grounded. It’s not so trifling and tumultuous, it’s a relief. That’s really what it is, she’s become grounded. We see this character who’s been tumbling through everything finally land on her feet and go through things with a sense of self, and for the greater good.”
Julia is one of the few, if not the first person ever, to get her shade removed but then also returned. Are there any reverberating affects from that?
“Not that we see, or that we play with. The shade stuff went away in season 2. As far as the stuff with Reynard and her rape and everything that she endured, all of the trauma, that never leaves. And I like that. Sera [Gamble] made sure that it was a point, that through-out the series for however long it goes… that always remains with you.
It doesn’t have to rule your life and it doesn’t have to be your narrative, but it becomes a part of you. And then you navigate through-out the rest of your journey on this planet with having to have gone through these things that make you who you are today.”
Does she accept the fact that she let Reynard go? Or does she struggle with that?
“Totally. She doesn’t struggle, no. I don’t think she regrets that at all, I think she took empathy on him. Maybe, of course, there was a part that wanted to kill him right then and there but the better part of her, her sense of empathy, took control. Our Lady Underground asked her for forgiveness and said, ‘Please will you spare his life.’ And Julia was able to take the high road and do that, and I think that’s really incredible.”
Has Julia melded back into the group now, because she’s been so separate from them and so far. What’s her status in this circle?
“I feel like all of these characters have individual friendships and individual bonds and relationships, and we’re never all together at the same time. I don’t even think that’s ever happened! Even though we’re all on the same mission, which is to bring back magic. I feel like Julia is more a part of the group, but I also don’t because I feel like she’s not really human?
“I think there will always be a part of her that doesn’t fully connect, but I kind of feel like that with all of these characters. Everyone is sort of socially inept, and everybody’s got their things. That’s what made the novel so cool, was because there was that disconnect universally – and the connections, but the disconnection makes things interesting.
The duo that can do it all, Eliot Waugh & Margo Hanson
Pressed for time, we spoke with Appleman and Bishil together about their characters. You’ll know them as the King and Queen of Fillory, but more importantly as the pair of best friends who have been through an insane amount of things together. Despite having their differences, which all friends have, they continue to support each other and help bring Fillory back from the darkness it’s fallen into. While they try to figure out how to take back their kingdom from the Fairy Queen, they’ll also be pertinent in bringing magic back to the world.
Eliot has really evolved to take on the role of king, wheras Margo has a tendency to do what she thinks is best without consulting, so how will you both do together when it comes to dealing with the fairies?
Appleman: “I think this is a time for them to split up, and both take the same issue from various angles. Margo remains at the kingdom to hold down the fort, and Eliot takes a quest on the boat to achieve the same goal together. They’ve had to put aside their differences in order to work together more consciously. They don’t have time to argue, they don’t have time to sweat over their past or their history, it’s time for action and really smart, quick-thinking on their feet. They have to utilize the best aspects of themselves as rulers.”
Bishil: “I think that’s really well put. To speak to the separation, you know there was that scene where you see the difference in philosophies of ruling and approaches to implementing government, and assorting their authority at the end of the series. And rather quickly, you see the fairies begin to occupy and completely undermine everything they just tried to talk about. Immediately that’s put on the back-burner, or it’s assumed it is, and there’s also the issue of where is Fen’s baby?
What I like about Margo, you know although she made this deal to save Eliot and everyone in the kingdom, she was operating from a place of instinct and fear and thinking she was saving more people than she wasn’t saving. And that’s what a leader does, essentially, if you have to save one or all you save all.”
Appleman: “But I don’t think Margo and Eliot have a lot of time to hash out their politics at the beginning of the season. They to immediately deal with the problem of the fairies before they can appeal to the people at Eliot wanted to, or instill a governmental constitution in the way they wanted to at the end of season 2.”
Bishil: “And Margo specifically says, ‘this is my mess to clean up.’ Because it is! And it does become her mess to clean up.”
Appleman: “You see Margo take on a strong leadership role this season, and it’s really beautiful to see Summer tackle that. It’s really, she gives a really stunning performance. ”
How well does Eliot do at sea?
Appleman: “Eliot takes to it pretty easily. There’s some gags about him throwing up over the edge of the boat but I think he’s actually a natural on the water. He feels confident, and more confident than he’s ever felt in a position of rulership this season. He’s really dropped in to a place of thinking quickly on his feet. There’s an emerging hero in him that we saw glimpses of in season 2 that is more the case this season as well.
He doesn’t want this, you know. Again, he wouldn’t have chosen this for himself but it turns out he’s a pretty good leader and a pretty good hero for all that he’s been thorough. And all of his complex emotional baggage that he’s just barely begun to unpack, he’s proving himself to really step up to challenges across the board.”
How much has Margo learned? Will she be less of a wild card, or still do she only she thinks is best?
Bishil: “I think Margo this year transitions from a wild card, as you say, who operates from instinct (sometimes well and spot-on, and sometimes disastrously not), to a thoughtful, true, well-intended ruler. You see that evolution happen, and you saw the seeds of that in her. She always wanted what was best for the kingdom, a lot of it was just kind of operating form her belt, she’s never done it before. It’s machinery she’s never seen before but always wanted to operate.
For Margo, being a queen of an enchanted land is everything she’s been preparing for her entirelife, probably. But she doesn’t realize that it’s real until halfway through. Then she starts realizing very quickly that the stakes are very real, and they’re very high. They’re higher than she thought they could be, but she adapts so quickly to that realization. She absorbs that reality and runs with it in a pretty meaningful way.”
What’s on Margo’s mind this season? What’re the personal hurdles she has to go through in comparison to her friends?
Bishil: “What I like about Margo is that as much ego as you see, because she performs and she’s a performer, she’s able to assess herself in a way that accounts for others as well. You don’t think so, but she is able to see outside of herself and assess reality from a place of some perspective.”
Appleman: “And there are moments where you see her strongly stand up for Eliot this season in ways that are very connected. We save each other at different points through-out the season, too.”
Bishil: “We do! If Eliot is invested in Fen and his family, then Margo is invested.”
Appleman: “Well, I don’t even know if Eliot is invested.”
Bishil: “Well, that’s the thing! She’s got bigger fish to fry than worrying about his loyalty to her, or if Eliot loves her. It’s there, and she’s concerned with regaining her throne, and the monarchy. And now, interested in creating a real government that can sustain itself. She’s invested in that, it means something to her now and it’s not just a performance. It’s a goal.”
Co-creator and magic lover, Sera Gamble
With several years of work on Supernatural as a writer, producer and executive producer she knows how to make magic look damn good. Working with John McNamara to bring The Magicians to life on Syfy, she and her team have created something exceptional. Here’s what she had to say about what we can expect for season 3.
Tell us more about the journey to get magic back! What’s the hardest part of this journey, what can we expect?
Well, it’s an epic quest! In a nutshell that’s the structure of the season. And for me, I’m a huge fan of classic fairytales and mythology. This was an opportunity in a crazy, weird, modern, way, to do the fairytale structure of a classic quest.
What part of the books were you most excited to put on screen this season, and what part of the show that isn’t in the books are you excited to share?
“I’m quite excited about the boat! It’s been hanging over our heads ever since the pilot got picked up, like, ‘Are we ever going to be able to do the fuckin boat?!’ Luckily, we have Chris Fischer, our executive producer/director, who’s a sailer and had a lot of practical advice about shooting on water. We wanted to push ourselves, we wanted a new set and a new location and the boat provided that.
The way that the Muntjac opens up the world of Fillory is great, because in a world without magic they can’t just step through a portal every time they want to get to the next place. It’s kind of fun that they have to travel the old fashioned way!
And there are a lot of creatures this season! Magical creatures are still alive and kickin’, what they have is in their DNA it’s not reliant on the magical current that was shut off. The problem with that, of course, is that they’re not friends of the magicians.
Historically magicians have treated most magical creatures like shit, so it’s not like they want to help us now. There are creatures on the level of the white lady from last season that you’ll meet, and at the end of last season Alice was running from her life from the Lamprey, so you’ll meet the Lamprey.
One of my favorite creatures, I’ve come to really adore the fairies and they’re a big part of season 3. I remember when we were first going to attempt to do Fillory, how nervous John McNamara was that it was going to end up like bad Robin Hood: Men in Tights. And aesthetically we were really committed to finding a way to bring it to life that wasn’t cringe-inducing and corny.
The same with the fairies. I really wanted to tell a story about the fairies but was super concerned they would just be these glittery, childish things. I love Disney, I love Tinkerbell, but there’s no room for that on this show. We wanted to find a way to capture the whimsical nature of fairies without having it be cartoonish or childish, we wanted a malevolence. It took a lot of effort for our hair, makeup, special effects makeup and our costume designer. Everyone came together, and we went through many, many iterations of just what they looked like to figure out how to do the adult version of a fairy. But it’s paid dividends, because they’ve become very complicated creatures in our show. They stand opposition way to Margo and Eliot in a very fun way.”
Which characters are you most excited to develop a relationship with this season? Which pair has been the most exciting?
“There are so many, and it’s always interesting when you put characters together that haven’t spent much time together. There are some really interesting things that happen between Alice and Julia this season. I didn’t think too much about the Quentin connection when we started to write it, but it sort of made sense to me that these are the two people that have meant the most to Quentin. They come together in a very interesting way by the middle of the season. Julia, she had that tiny spark of magic, and Alice, probably of all our characters, she’s the one who is the most devastated by the loss of magic. She’s defined herself as a magician so deeply, she hasn’t always loved magic but she’s always been completely surrounded by it. It’s always been a huge part of her identity, she was pure magic last year. She’s the one having the most intense quarter-life crisis about it, so it’s interesting putting them together.”
Since Jason [Ralph] isn’t here, can you tease us more about Quentin’s journey this season?
“What’s interesting about Quentin as a character is that he is so well-versed in fantasy. He was reading Joseph Campbell when he was in grade school. So when you say something to a character like Quentin like, ‘Quentin, I’m going to send you on an epic quest,’ he understands exactly what that means.
He knows there’s going to be a lot of steps, there’s going to be antagonists along the way. He understands that he’s going to have to work with people but he also understands that the true nature of a quest, in the classic fairytale sense of the word, is that it transforms the quester.
The person you are when you start a quest couldn’t finish the quest. You only become the person who can complete the quest by going through all of those trials and tribulations. So when Quentin steps up and says, ‘I’m going to help, I’m going to do what I can and go on this quest,’ he knows that this means he’s signing up to be changed.
He has a lot of less self-doubt this season. He’s still Quentin, he’s depressive, he’s anxious, he keeps fucking shit up with Alice, all of that is true. But as somebody who just says ‘In this case the hero is just the person who steps up and does their best and is willing to pay the price’ that’s really who he is this season.