‘The Magicians’: Olivia Taylor Dudley on ‘That’ Twist

Olivia Taylor Dudley
Spoiler Alert
Carole Segal/Syfy
Pictured: Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice

Spoiler Alert! This interview discusses major plot developments from tonight’s episode, so unless you want to know, go back now!

The Beast earned his ominous name tonight on The Magicians when the battle to bring him down claimed our beloved Alice Quinn (Olivia Taylor Dudley) during a showdown of epically tragic proportions. As Brakebills’ most gifted student, Alice knew she had to be the one to take on the villainous Martin Chatwin (Charles Mesure). She also knew that the spell required to vanquish him came with the risk of her becoming a Niffin—a magician so overtaken by pure magic energy that they are fatally consumed by a blue flame. Unfortunately, things went awry (thanks, Julia!) in the middle of their showdown (thanks, Julia!),  leaving the Beast on the run, Quentin (Jason Ralph) severely wounded and Alice, sweet Alice, nothing more than vapor. Is this the end for her? Here, the enchanting actress fills us in on Alice’s demise…and potential rise.

OK, I haven’t read the books so I’m assuming that this does not mean the end for Alice?
Well, in the books Alice does disappear for like a book and a half so…

Not acceptable.
[Laughs] Yeah, I know. Quentin ends up going on a long journey to find Alice through the other books so we kind of have to rearrange different things like we have done throughout the first season and the second season. It’s not the last you will see Alice, but the Alice we know it defiantly dead.

Okay, is there an actual change in her appearance when we see her again?
Um, yes, but it’s so hard to explain without giving it away. I think fans of the books are going to see the new version of Alice later on and be shocked. It’s not what happens in the books but it definitely pays homage to it.  This season I got to spend a lot of time with Jason and you’ll get to see the Alice-Quentin relationship through a different lens really. I get to play a different version of Alice for sure.

Nice! That’s awesome for an actor to get two roles in the same show.
Yeah, it was. I’m so excited that [executive producers] John McNamara and Sera Gamble gave me the opportunity t do this because I had read all the books and knew what happened to Alice,  so I was like ‘Oh my goodness am I just going to disappear forever?’ And in reality, I guess that this Alice does.

When did Sera and John tell you how they planned to handle this storyline?
It was a question that I’d been asking throughout hiatus! [Laughs] In the beginning, I was like ‘So when’s that gonna happen?’ ‘Is it gonna happen?’ The way they laid it out was very beautiful, the way they communicated it and I think it’s so important that this happens for Alice and that it’s a really big part of the journey for Quentin. In the books, the heart of his journey is to find love and with her sacrificing herself and being gone, that gives a lot of drive for Quentin for the rest of the season. So they told me, I knew it was coming, and I just got excited at what would happen later.

winter preview

If only they had known that the woods would be curtains for one of them…

Can we expect to see the new Alice form different relationships with Margo or even Julia?
When we see Alice at a later time, it’s really not the same Alice and it’s a different storyline. The writer’s are always really great at intertwining all of these complicated stories with each other and everyone gets their time with each different character…so yeah, you’ll get to see her interact with them and also with some new characters.

And how was filming the actual scene? Usually, your effects involve the magic and bending energy. In this, your entire body was engulfed in flames!
[Laughs] Yes! I was excited because in the books you hear so much talk about her being a Niffin and what its like being that powerful, so I was so excited to play it even if it was only for a brief moment in time. She becomes pure magic and shooting that scene was really brutal. We didn’t have a lot of time to shoot it, just several packed days and lot of physical stuff, doing stunts over and over and there was a lot to it. When we finally got to the part when she turns into the blue flame, I was so exhausted. But I love doing that…any time I get to scream and throw fireballs I’m game!

And as someone who hadn’t read the book, I was thinking, ‘Well, they’ll bring her back. They’ll do a spell and she’ll cough and she’ll be fine.’ But then poof!
It’s heartbreaking. I loved getting to play a character who’s so strong and in the end so self-sacrificing. If she hadn’t had done that, they’d all be dead. But it’s sad in the end that Quentin was the one who had to end her life, but she was basically dead when she turned into a Niffin. It’s so complex and sad and at the end of the day, it was really sad to shoot. Jason was crying and when I was lying on the floor dead, I was crying. You get so attached to playing these characters and I love Alice so much, it was a sad day.

Although, if you gotta go, how cool is it that this girl, who was almost afraid of her own shadow when we first met her, would not just put her own life on the line, but to stand up to the Beast?
Yes, I know! It’s so cool that they wrote a female hero. I think everyone has their hero moments on our show, which is great, but Quentin is the main guy and yet at the same time, they recognize that these other people are extremely strong. The fact that Alice was their hero in the end is very exciting.

The Magicians, Wednesdays, 9/7c, Syfy