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NYCC: ‘The Magicians’ Get Emotional

SyFy pulled out all of the stops for their The Magicians panel, giving away neckties, opening the panel with a rap performance by Freestyle Supreme, and having comedian Aisha Tyler as moderator. The festivities went from fun and upbeat to emotional rather quickly, however, as the series’ dark undertones were brought to the forefront.

From Page to Screen

One of the most challenging things about The Magicians is the loyal fanbase for the book series. Adapting the novels for the small screen meant tackling some very heady issues, all while maintaining an entertaining show from week to week.

“It’s such an embarrassment of riches and we came to the books as huge fans. Knowing that you can’t nail every detail of the books,” said executive producer Sera Gamble. “We’re in a different time loop than the books. Same world, different time loop.”

“The thing we absolutely could not let go of was Martin Chatwin and Christopher Plover. That to me is the entire psychological DNA of the first book,” said executive producer John McNamara. “There was another network that tried to educate Sarah and I on what was acceptable and we thought what was not acceptable was to work with that network.”

The actors all became big fans of the books as well, reading them before each season in order to get into their characters and prepare for the things to come. One actor, Jason Ralph, started tearing up onstage when he talked about it.

“Before we started the job I read the books. We all became quick and rapid fans. It’s to protect these things that we love. I love playing this character and it’s scary a lot of the time because I don’t want to screw it up,” Ralph said. “I have a problem, when I talk about things I like in front of people, I cry. I have a lot of feelings about this stuff, apparently. It touches me in a way I am unprepared to talk about.”

Magicians NYCC
Jason Ralph talks about his character while costar Stella Maeve sits beside him.

Cast-member Arjun Gupta was excited to play Penny, who isn’t quite as developed in the book series. He was happy that the show-runners allowed him to influence the way the character grew and changed over the course of the first season.

“Before the audtions I had heard about the books but I didn’t read them. When I auditioned I didn’t read them because I was afraid to fall in love,” he said. “Sera and I talked a good bit about who Penny was and what the backstory was. I’m in a fortunate position on the show that Penny’s in and out of the books. He’s one of the least fleshed out characters that we’re portraying.”

What’s Coming in Season Two

In the upcoming season, the characters in The Magicians are going to have to deal with their personal relationships on a grander scale.

“(The showrunners) are really great at using magic as a metaphor so, this is really about their personal relationships,” said Stella Maeve, who plays Julia, who wasn’t allowed into Brakebills but cut her arm to remember the existence of magic.

“All of these characters are so beautifully flawed. You get to watch us mess up on numerous occasions. It’s TV imitating real life with magic,” she said.

The characters have already been through quite a lot, but season two promises to get even crazier.

“I think the stakes are bigger. I think the move is to save everyone rather than let his boyfriend live. It’s about essentially keeping himself alive,” said Hale Appleman, who plays the high king of Fillory, Eliot. “He’s not a selfless guy. His heart beats louder than he would want you to think – he shows nurturing aspects to his friends in ways.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Kady, who is as far from the royal family of Fillory as it gets.

“I think when you first meet Kady, she’s come from sort of the streets of magic. She’s dealt with things on a big scale that the other characters haven’t. I think you get to see her go through an emotional journey this season,” said the actress that plays her, Jade Tailor. “Last season, she was dealing with so many things, the separation from Penny and losing her mom and watching Julia go through that horrific experience. She’s going through guilt of not being able to save any of them. You get to see that journey with Julia a little bit.”

One positive thing looks like it will come of all of this emotional hardship: Dean Fog might actually get a bit of romance this season.

“I can tell you I will maintain my position as Dean, adviser to my brilliant young students. One thing I think that’s really cool about the second year is that there;s a little bit of romance coming for me,” said actor Rick Worthy.


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