Jade Tailor – The Magicians
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) Last we chatted we didn’t know the Oscar award winning actress you had worked with, but we’ve come to learn it was Marlee Matlin.
A) She is just an incredible actress, but also an incredible human. I learned so much from working with her for so many reasons. It forces you as an actor to listen in a whole other way since you are not listening with your ears. You’re listening with your eyes and watching body movement. You’re reading what they are saying and having to process it. It was just an incredible experience and now I’m learning ASL since she inspired me!
Q) You did get to use ASL while working with her so it’s nice it inspired you to learn some.
A) I knew a little bit of it. I have always personally been drawn to it so I was teaching myself how to sign on an airplane with a little booklet. So, I’ve always been attracted to it. It was really nice to learn a little bit of the skills I had, but also be really inspired to immerse myself in it and really learn. I’m excited!
Q) There was some great humor to your scenes.
A) With the dialogue that is written, yes there is humor to it, but she brings it to a whole other level. Yes, there is little banter between her and Penny (Arjun Gupta), but that was all Marlee. It was fun! I couldn’t stop laughing because it was just so funny. She would take little jabs at Arjun. She would do it on and off camera so it was really fun.
Q) We hope there is a new partnership now with Harriet.
A) Yes! It is definitely where they leave off, but you never know where the writers are going to go with everything. But they definitely said while we were shooting that the intent was to create a relationship there to bring that element, which is a whole other world to learn about. We have Fillory and Brakebills, but now we have Fuzz Beat. It’s a whole new element they are introducing and I’m excited to see where they are going with it. Teaching dark matter and all these elements that aren’t acceptable at Brakebills. That Neitherlands is hiding in the potion room they are making it acceptable to everybody I think brings a whole other level of intensity and excitement because it is a whole other world of magic that we are delving into.
Q) It was great seeing Penny and Alice. There are some restraints that may be happening, depending on what he knows and when he knows it.
A) I thought when he left she might go back to some of her old antics, with the antics being with Marina and her mom she was relaying this information from Brakebills to save her mom’s life. Now, she’s planning to do the same with Penny and Fuzz Beat. So, basically, she’s now a mole once again because that is the only thing she can think of to save Penny’s life. So, I’m excited to see how the writers implement that. Obviously, it both helps her in the past, but has also been a detriment to the relationship. We’ll see what happens to her and Penny based on that.
Q) She seems not to embrace being bad. She would rather remain neutral. Is that part of her personality or what do you attribute that to?
A) I think in so many ways she is used to having to survivor so I don’t think she can think of a better way because it is just about how she can help someone survive in this moment. So, she reacts and responds versus finding the logical way out of it like finding the spell that will work to save him. She’s like, “Let’s get this done. How can I save him?” It’s very instinctual responses and thinks about survival. Like you said, she would love to remain neutral, but I don’t think she knows how to do that. I don’t think that’s innately what she knows how to do. Fight first and think later.
Q) Her upbringing and circumstances to who she is, her moral compass just doesn’t know which way to point.
A) Not at all, which is really exciting for me. It’s really fun for me to play. She has that kind of intensity, but it does get her in trouble sometimes. I think sometimes it is important to think and then react. But she reacts first so there is consequences. [laughs]
Q) We see this great relationship with Kady and Penny. Then, we see Penny get poisoned because he gets the book. He makes this sacrifice for Kady. Kady is now forced to do things, but he is making this ultimate sacrifice.
A) They don’t really express their feelings in the best way as far as saying I love you, but they show it with their actions. So, I think that was the ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate expression of love. I think that definitely shows her how much he cares and she is going to do everything for him for her love. So, she sacrifices her morals (the few that she has) to do anything she can to save his life.
Q) Each one is sacrificing for one another, but neither knows.
A) It was just so interesting. That’s how they operate. I think that’s the survival mechanism. Survival is sacrifice. That’s the way their MO. That’s the way they know to show they love one another and they are in circumstances where there is not many other options. [laughs]
Q) We have also been getting to see you and Arjun so vulnerable.
A) There was definitely a lot of that! That was really exciting to play this year, a lot more vulnerability both in Kady, but also in her relationship with Penny. I think that was really a beautiful element to implement. I hope it is just the beginning of that because I think the depth of their relationship can continue to grow and expand. I wish I could tell you more, but once they get in the writers’ room you never know where they are going to go. John, our EP, will tell me one and it’s because he gets so excited about what they are creating. Then, it will be like 5% of it that shows up in the script. So, you never know what the writers are going do. There are just too many ideas that are going to be thrown out. I’m thrilled to see what ideas come about and what craziness ensues. It’s really exciting to go in the writers’ room because they have note cards on the wall. It is the breakdown of each episode so as you go in you see all the just one-liners and this other separate wall with ridiculous statements that the writers will make. I’m excited to see what they come up with this year.
Q) We have gotten so much character development this season.
A) I’m really proud of both seasons, but with the first season you are really discovering the world we live in and the characters. For the second season there was a beautiful balance that now we know the characters we are delving deeper into all of that and the worlds we are living in. It’s the complexity of the characters, the complexities of the world they are and the circumstances that they are put in that makes it so riveting.
Q) Julia and Kady’s friendship. Now they are at a crossroads, how you feel their dynamic developed this season?
A) There is so much to that relationship. I’ve said before that I think at first it was Kady needing to redeem herself. She did run away during the time when someone was potentially being killed that she didn’t know and she wasn’t able to save her. Just like she wasn’t able to save her own mother. So then it develops into a real friendship and I think we don’t often see that kind of comradery and closeness between women on TV. So, it was really important to me play that. Of course, they had to go through the turmoil that they have. It has been a rollercoaster of experience to play that breakup that they essentially have based on everything they went through with Reynard. I’m really curious to see where that relationship goes because I think that was a really special bond that they had and I think it is hard for Katie at the moment to justify Julia’s actions. And I don’t know how easy it will be to forgive her. With any relationship there are twists and turns and ups and downs. I know this isn’t the end of their story. I just don’t know what the rest of their story will entail. So, we’ll see. But they’ve just got to get back together! [laughs] I’m rooting for their friendship, but I realized no matter who she is with she always has a sense of being alone. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. I think in a sense it forces Katie back to taking care of herself again. Even though she does have Penny it’s different.
Q) With Julia burning things to the ground, what do you think this signifies for her? A new beginning? An end?
A) Well, I think it’s a new beginning. I think about a phoenix rising from the ashes. It could be a positive thing or it could be a negative thing because you see a big shift in her after her mom died. That was definitely a positive thing, but then you see after there is another big shift when Season One ends where she finds herself in a dark place. You never know what a new beginning will entail.
Q) There were so many “Game of Thrones” like elements this season. Kady was like Kahleesi.
A) Quite a bit! Which I love that reference and it makes me very happy. I will take that reference! I think it is fantastic.
Q) In your eyes, who transformed the most this season?
A) I think Kady transforms the most in Season One because I think she doesn’t have any redeeming qualities and then you really see her being a heroine in many circumstances throughout Season Two. I may be bias, but I think she has the most transformation. Also, because I think for the most part every other character that had transformation was circumstantial. I think Julia (Stella Maeve) definitely had some life transformation since she had her shade taken from her, but she got that back. Olivia’s character Alice turns into a Nephilim and then she comes back. One of the things that really changed a character was Eliot (Hale Appleman) becoming king and Fen (Brittany Curran) becoming the high queen. As far as who someone is, I think Kady definitely has a lot of growth. I’m really excited to see where Alice goes because at the end she seems like a different person based on her experiences as a Nephilim and I thought she did a beautiful job of conveying that.
Q) There was such an amazing change in wardrobe this season. How many people wanted your jacket?
A) A lot of people! I was excited that people were making comments about Katie’s attire because it was just a t-shirt and flannels. Margot gets all the crazy stuff. I think Katie is more relatable and accessible than Margot’s elaborate crowns and gowns. I was really excited because it is Kady’s expression. So, it was really fun. I loved Kady’s jacket. I wish I could steal it from the wardrobe, absolutely.
Q) What was your favorite episode to film or getting to watch see play out?
A) There are so many good ones! I think the finale was really great to watch for me for many reasons. For one, I forgot what I filmed! [laughs] I remembered I shot a scene with Marlee, but I forgot about the intensity with Penny and Katie and the fight for his life. To me, that was just so heart wrenching. It was just such a beautiful thing and it really takes us into Season Three. The battle sequences for me are so much fun to play with. Also, I think Episode 12 with Reynard. The episodes that are heavy in relationships between Kady and Julia or Kady and Penny…Also, watching Julia come back and what that entailed with her relationship with her and Quentin as a viewer, that’s what I hold on to and get excited about. When I can cry over anything, that’s when I know it is effecting me. [laughs] I don’t get to see the actors’ performances and how they have cut the show together until I am watching it. That’s really fun to me because I’m visualizing it while I’m reading it, but to see it come to life is really exciting. I feel like I’m living in part of it until I see it come to fruition. So, it’s definitely fun for me to watch it as part of the show than as a viewer.
Q) Going into Season Three, the show has left us with all emotions. What do you hope fans have taken away from Season Two of “The Magicians?”
A) I love our writers and our sets so much for so many reasons. You never know what to expect. When you think it can’t be topped it is topped. So, I have no idea where it is going to go, but I am so excited about that. I’m hoping that we will continue on the same trajectory where we are delving into the characters and their relationships and deeper into the different environments that we’re living in whether it be Fillory or whatever it may be. I’m excited to see more talking animals. [laughs] I’m excited to see where the relationships go and more magic. I think the fans can expect more magic and craziness. That’s what I’m hoping for.