‘The Magicians’ Star Olivia Taylor Dudley on the ‘Surprising’ Season 2 Finale and the Fate of Alice & Quentin’s ‘Magnetic’ Relationship
During her two seasons as Alice Quinn on Syfy’s The Magicians, Olivia Taylor Dudley seems to have done it all. From Alice’s first few episodes as a quiet yet prolific student at Brakebills University to her previously loving relationship with fellow student Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) turned all kinds of electric and angsty, it’s safe to say Alice’s journey has taken her to the ends of the earth. In fact, Season 2 has seen her tackle her most difficult (and yet most freeing) challenge yet: traversing the universe as a niffin, an insanely powerful entity made of pure magic and delicious apathy. Last we saw Alice, Quentin had managed to bring her back to humanity after a season-long struggle. Spoiler: She wasn’t pleased.
Zimbio spoke to Dudley on Wednesday, April 19, the day of the Season 2 finale and just a week after the popular show was renewed for a third season.
Zimbio: So the show was just renewed. You’re coming back! How do you feel?
OTD: I’m really excited. It took them a little while to do the pick-up. I don’t why because the show has been doing really well, and it was really scary for a minute. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I hope we get a third season!’ But then when they announced it, it made perfect sense and everybody was super excited. We all love playing these characters and the fans have been so amazing. It’s just a dream job. To get to go and do it for another season and hopefully more is just really exciting. There are so many stories in the books we haven’t told yet in the show and I have no idea how they’re gonna do the next season. I’m really curious to see what the writers are up to right now.
Zimbio: And The Magicians season finale is tonight. We’ve heard it’s the biggest episode yet.
OTD: Yeah! It’s gonna be just as much of a cliffhanger as last year’s season finale, I hate to say. None of these characters are gonna get away with anything easily. There will be a lot of unanswered questions as far as the world of magic and the relationships between all of these people. I’m excited Alice is back, and considering the journey I’ve gone on with her this season and how we finish this season out, I think people are going to be really surprised.
Zimbio: Alice has recently been de-niffined by Quentin and she’s not too happy about it. Should fans be holding out hope for Alice and Quentin romantically?
OTD: I love the Quentin and Alice relationship, it was my favorite story in the books and what drew me to the show. They’re like magnets, they can’t help but be around each other even if it’s extremely painful for both of them. The journey they went on this season is kind of insane, the fact that they’re still bound to each other after all they’ve been through. I think the love between them is never gonna go away. Alice will always love Quentin and Quentin will always love Alice. Whether or not they get to be together any time soon, I’m not quite sure. It’s a bit of a rocky relationship.
Zimbio: At one point in this season, we saw Quentin and Alice reunite in an alternate universe. In this universe, Alice was the one trying to find a way to bring Quentin back. It wrecked me.
OTD: There were so many scenes this season that were incredibly heartbreaking from Alice’s perspective. I got to play so many different versions of the same character, which is always a gift as an actor to get to explore so many sides. There were many points this season where Alice was not at all interested in the wellbeing of Quentin, which is heartbreaking because I know that the real Alice is in love with him.
Zimbio: Right now, the guy who’s in control of everything — Umber — is treating Fillory like an ant under a magnifying glass. Should fans be concerned?
OTD: I don’t think fans should ever feel comfortable with it. At any moment, things could go bad. It’s such an interesting thing they did this season by making magic, and Fillory, its own character. It was a surprise to all of us. We read the scripts a week before we shot it. It’s a fascinating take, that it’s his own reality show and we’re all just characters on his show. The state of magic is always up in the air, and it’s a dangerous thing. It’s its own entity on the show and it’s a really fun thing to play with.
Zimbio: For sure.
OTD: I used to want to go to Fillory when I first started the show and since then I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ Magic is kind of terrifying.
Zimbio: It’s the least stable place ever.
OTD: Exactly, yeah. Not that our world is any more stable.
Zimbio: Ha, no kidding! How much better is our world really?
OTD: That’s true. Maybe Fillory is better.
Zimbio: And when it comes to Alice, it seems like she enjoys being a niffin.
OTD: Alice definitely loves being a niffin. I think she was in her happy place. Being a niffin, you’re pure magic
and you have all the knowledge of the universe, so it’s a euphoric experience at all times. She struggles so much with being a human being that when she finally got to be a niffin, even though it wasn’t her intention in life, she got a taste of it and didn’t want to come back. It’s really fun to play that, to get to play with pure magic and to play someone who doesn’t care about mankind or the people she loves and who at any moment was willing to kill them. I think she’s pissed off that she’s human again. She never liked being a human being, she was never comfortable with it. Now she’s had a taste of what something better is like and I don’t think she’ll forgive Quentin anytime soon.
Zimbio: Alice in Season 1 was a very different Alice than in Season 2.
OTD: I’m used to playing characters that are a little more like the niffin Alice, a little more edgy and live-wired and unpredictable. What drew me to playing Alice when I first got the material was a chance to play a character that was so much more internal and buttoned up and hasn’t really become a woman yet and has this sort of stunted growth. It was fun to know where that character goes by the end of the book. So I knew I’d have a very big canvas to paint this picture on and it was gonna take a while to get there. I knew what I was gonna be doing as a niffin if I ever got to play a niffin, which I did in Season 2, and that came a lot faster than I thought. It was great to do all that stuff with her and to still try to find who Alice is and was because that’s her soul, I guess. You don’t always get to explore so many different versions of the same character when you play them.
Zimbio: Did you have a favorite scene from Season 2?
OTD: Just basically any of the scenes with Jason. I love all the scenes with Alice and Quentin. Working with Jason Ralph is so fantastic. He’s such a giving actor and we both love the source material so much, so we’re always reading the books on set. We always have them with us. We’re always checking in with where the scenes are in the books compared to what we’re shooting. Whenever we get to do scenes between Alice and Quentin that are intimate or emotional, we’re always on the same page. The carriage scene before Alice’s death was really fun to play. Those scenes are the real humanity behind characters. The big fight scenes and special effects are fun, but any scene where we get to explore the humanity of these characters is always the best.
Zimbio: What would you like to see Alice do in Season 3?
OTD: I’d like to see her not die again. I’m not sure, we weave so far in and out of the books that I have no idea where they’re gonna take it. I’d like to see Alice and Quentin get their relationship back, but I don’t know where it’s going. I’m just waiting. I got to do so much this season, I can’t even imagine what next season will be. I’m just as excited as everyone watching.
Zimbio: Speaking of excitement, I can hear your rescue dogs in the background. I know they make frequent guest appearances on your social media.
OTD: Yes! Animal rescue is a huge part of my life. I have three rescue dogs right now and I’ve had up to 10 at once in my lifetime, when I was growing up living on a ranch. It was much easier then. It’s a little harder now in LA even to have three. I love rescues, and I wish more people would rescue. They’re the best.
Zimbio: And you have another project coming up, Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins, which also stars Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars) and David Arquette (Cougar Town).
OTD: It’s a project I’m so excited about, it’s just insane. I think people who love The Magicians are going to love this movie because it’s really out there. I haven’t gotten to see the final cut yet, but I’m really excited proud of it. It’s just batshit crazy. It’s a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.
Zimbio: Sounds perfect. Any final words for fans?
OTD: We’re all so grateful for them. The show lives and breathes because of them. They’ve been so supportive of us. It was scary at first to do a show based on a book series that had an audience already, we didn’t know how they would receive us. They’ve been so wonderful and beautiful. I love the fan art. I want more fan art! It’s so much fun.