Summer Bishil – The Magicians
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I was lucky enough to be a part of a movie called Under The Silver Lake at the tale end of filming “The Magicians.” I thought that was really fun. I got to work with Andrew Garfield and I’ve always loved his work. It’s just a really exciting time.
Q) Was getting back into film something you were making a concerted effort to do?
A) It was a desire of mine to do movies again. It’s kind of where I started out was doing independent films. It was kind of what I did for the most part and I soon realized there is more work in television. I think any actor notes there seems to be more work available to you in television. So, that has sort of kept me busy for the last couple of years. I auditioned more for TV, but it’s not that I don’t want to do movies. I would love to.
Q) Was working with Andrew Garfield everything you dreamed it would be?
A) Yeah! Absolutely! It was a real treat and really nice. And it was nice to step out of the tone I had been working in for a couple of years. “The Magicians” has been what I have done since I was twenty-six years old. I’m now twenty-eight so it has been about two and a half years I think. So, it was nice to step out of Margo for a while.
Q) Talk a little bit about your character in Under The Silver Lake.
A) It was a much softer spoken character than Margo. It was definitely a much softer spoken character than Margot.
Q) There is a sassy side to Margo. Will we see new facets to her?
A) I think more than her just being saucy this year, she is a ruler of Fillory now so the stakes are a little bit higher. So, it forces her to be more mindful and really step up. Also, her main objective this year is to topple the patriarchy. She is a high queen trying to function and do her job, which is to rule and govern a kingdom. Every obstacle presented to her she is told, “No, that’s actually a man’s job.” So, she has double the work to do because she wants to make changes and ensure growth. But she is given so much slack for trying because she is a woman. She’s got her work cut out for her. So, you’ll see a more serious side of her.
Q) How will that play into her relationship with Eliot?
A) I think Eliot and Margo are family. I think their bond is so much deeper than circumstance. Their relationship will always endure. They love each other and are deeply committed to each other I think more than they even know. It is tested, but not tested because she married Fen (Brittany Curran). It’s tested because they have different beliefs on how to rule this kingdom. The marriage isn’t what wrecked their relationship the most. It is they have different philosophies on ruling. Margot wants to be much more ruthless and Eliot (Hale Appleman) wants to be more diplomatic so they go head to head quite often this season.
Q) How will dynamics shift this season?
A) I think everybody is forced to evolved and grownup rapidly because of the introduction of Fillory. They are brought into this world whether they like it or not and it dramatically changes their lives. The consequences are a lot more severe. So, it forces them to step outside of themselves and grow up. As most young adults are self-centered young people, you see them grow in different ways. I think every character expends this year.
Q) How will the innocence of the characters be changed?
A) I can’t speak how it is has changed for the other characters, but for Eliot and Margo are now responsible for ruling this kingdom and nobody else is helping them. So, I think their innocence has been shattered. They have been confronted by the actual stakes of magic and the limitations of their own skills as magicians are presented to them for the first time in the real world. They now have to apply what they have learned or not learned because in Fillory you need magic to survive. Without it, you’re nothing and your life is probably in danger. Without that bubble and shelter, they really have lost their innocence I would say.
Q) There is an instant pull to the characters and series. To what do you attribute it?
A) I would say it is probably so much. Down from the set design, Rachel O’Toole does such a wonderful job creating the environment so that is the foundation that has been created so beautifully and has so much texture and life to it. Then, Elie Smokin, (the Director of Photography) the way he shoots it and the world is presented and the different worlds in the story differentiate from each other creates such a texture. Then, you have this ensemble and every character is so different. They are thrown together and it just creates something that is exciting to participate in and you hope is exciting to watch. You never know if those variables are going to come together and be compelling to watch. But it did with us and I think it is luck, a lot of hard work and there is a great team behind “The Magicians.”
Q) How has the series being on the Syfy network helped to push boundaries for the show?
A) I think pushing the boundaries is credit to the writers. I’ve done one other show that went through eight episodes or so and usually when you are working in TV you kind of get an idea like, “Oh, next week my character is going in this direction.” You have an idea of how the character is going to be shaped when you’ve worked with a character for a while. I never know what is going to happen next with Margo. I’m always surprised. It’s never what I thought it is going to be or any of the characters. Every week I read a script I’m like, “Oh my God! I didn’t see it going in that direction, but I’m so glad it did.” They just know how to explore characters through plot in a way that it never feels tedious or predictable. I think they really take risks and it is evident in the casting, too. Margo is not a role I ever thought I’d play. I always wanted to play it. Margo is the cool girl and I’ve never been able to play that. I’ve always been cast more soft spoken, very different from her. I think a lot of the casting choices have been very different than what would usually happen on other networks. I can’t wait to explore more of Margot and who she was as Janet in the books. It’s really an epic story and I hope we get to explore that in season three.
Q) What has been the challenging aspect of this season?
A) I think the most challenging thing this season was any time dealing with fantasy and then on top of that dealing with a boisterous character and then on top of that royalty – there is that temptation and risk of flying off the handle, being over the top and no longer grounded in reality. I think what is amazing with “The Magicians” is it deals with all these fantastical scenes that are larger than life yet still feel very real, intimate and tangible. So, for me I think the challenge this year was the discipline and constantly telling myself not to fly off the handle as it still needed to feel organic and reality even though I’m on a throne screaming at an army of men for no reason. She’s still a human being.
Q) Where do the new additions to the cast fit in?
A) I think all of the additions are wonderful. The guest stars and the new actors who come in I’m always so excited about them. They always get such great actors that add so much to the overall series. Kacey Rohl was amazing as Marina. They always get such exciting actors. This year we have Brittany Curran who plays Fen, Eliot’s wife. She’s amazing. I got to do a lot of work with her and she’s amazing. I really love how large the cast is.
Q) It’s also great to see them individually – outside of one another.
A) Exactly! It gives the central players room to branch out and you get to explore other relationships. Especially on a series, you are doing thirteen episodes so after a while you want to interact with other people.
Q) Margot is the high queen so how would she change Fillory to better suit her needs?
A) She would make it more feminine. Any time she tries to get anything done it’s like, “No, you can’t. You’re not high king.” I think that’s what she would change first.
Q) You are a part of social media. What has the fan feedback been like for you?
A) I love getting the instant feedback! Our fans are so positive and amazing. I heard horror stories of how you can be treated on Twitter and I’ve not had that experience at all. There has been a couple weird things, but nothing really. It’s nice because you work so hard every year and you hope the fans appreciate it. So, it’s nice when you get to hear that they do love it. It makes you feel good.
Q) What do you hope fans take away from watching “The Magicians” this season?
A) I hope that people really love Fillory. It was really hard to bring it to life and it was such an important part of the books. It’s such a huge element to the series, too. I hope that people love all the new characters and how Fillory changes the storyline this year.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of the series?
A) I love our fans. They are amazing! There are some fundamental changes that Margo undergoes towards the end of the season that will be pretty shocking. You won’t be able to miss it. It’s pretty big!