When Syfy’s The Magicians returns for season four it will be with Hale Appleman’s Eliot taken over by the monster. This dramatic change in circumstance means that Appleman will be sinking his teeth into what’s basically a different character, and that’s a challenge Appleman relished taking on.
During our roundtable interview at the 2018 San Diego Comic Con, Appleman discussed the show’s much-anticipated fourth season, whether we’ll ever see Eliot again, and who the monster will be spending time with.
Hale Appleman The Magicians Season 4 Interview
We’re really worried about Eliot.
Hale Appleman: “You should be.”
Should we really be?
Hale Appleman: “I have no words of encouragement or support to offer you. He’s maybe lost forever. We’ve shot up to episode four and I’ve seen no trace of him. Hopefully he’ll come back. I think it would be great if he did, obviously. But in the meantime, I’m hoping you all fall in love with the monster because I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
What is it like playing the monster?
Hale Appleman: “He’s really different. He’s really surprisingly different than Eliot. He’s sort of like a child with a complete lack of empathy or impulse control. Hopefully he’ll mature a little bit as the season moves forward.
I see him as kind of a collector. He’s in this human body and he’s in the world for the first time in thousands of years. I think that he’s sort of collecting these human experiences and trying to make sense of it. He doesn’t have any standard of context for anything that’s happening to him or any of the modern-day life that he’s exposed to.”
Will we get to see him interact with anyone other than Quentin?
Hale Appleman: “You’ll see him interact with Margo a little bit. The monster is a little pissed that the group of them tried to kill him, so you might see him try to round up the troups.”
Do you view him as a completely separate character?
Hale Appleman: “Oh, completely, yeah because he’s not Eliot at all. I took him in such a different direction I think the showrunners were a little surprised. They’re like, ‘Wait, he’s still in Eliot’s body so you could be a little more like Eliot.’ I was like, ‘No, he can’t. You’ve created a monster.’”
He’s not liable to break out in song?
Hale Appleman: “Well, I mean, it is The Magicians so I can’t say that either. I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Eliot had a duet. I don’t know. I’m spitballing here.”
Can you talk about Eliot’s journey to becoming a king and then realizing he was good at it?
Hale Appleman: “After the shit hit the fan and he realized how much over his head he was in and how he had to rise to challenges he didn’t realize he signed up for and yada, yada, yada. I have a great deal of empathy and love for Eliot because I think he’s someone who grew up needing to shield himself with a certain amount of armor in order to function in the world and in the surroundings that he was born into, which I think is very human and very universal. And I’m proud of him for evolving and taking challenges head-on.
Sometimes he makes decisions on a whim that aren’t necessarily the most measured or rational, but I think his heart’s really in the right place when all is said and done. I think that he actually does care. The thing that I love the most about him is the heart that exists inside of him that he doesn’t necessarily want people to know or see. But that’s definitely there and definitely beating. He kind of would do anything to sacrifice for the ones he loved. I mean, he’s in this situation in season four because he was trying to save Quentin from a life of purgatory in a dungeon cell.”
Eliot’s one half of maybe the greatest duo to hit TV. What is it like to get to create those moments with Summer Bishil on set?
Hale Appleman: “That’s so sweet. Thanks. Summer is one of my favorite people in the history of the universe and she’s one of the best actors I’ve ever seen. She’s so talented. I mean, I feel lucky that I get to work with her. I miss working with her every day. I hope we get to do more in the future. We probably will.
I guess the only thing I can add to that is that we really lucked out. There’s an innate chemistry between the two of us that just exists. We didn’t know each other before we started shooting and so we kind of just lucked out.”
You mentioned there will be scenes with Margo and the monster. How different is that?
Hale Appleman: “Very weird. Very strange. Very weird. It’s still Hale and Summer so I guess the chemistry remains but they have very different agendas. They’re not necessarily on the same page or the same team. If they are, there’s a little bit of bittersweetness because it’s Margo looking at this person that she loves but who’s being inhabited by a monster. It’s some sort of a gearshift type of thing, a readjustment. He’s just kind of like really happy to be there. He really loves this body.”
Do you like playing the villain?
Hale Appleman: “I’m really starting to enjoy it a lot. It was a little scary at first but he’s so different – so drastically different – and he’s kind of taking in the world around him for the first time so there’s a lot to explore with that. He’s collecting these human experiences so I feel like there’s several different ideas that he has about who humans are and so he’ll try on different voices and different personalities in order to get the most out of a given situation.”
That’s got to present an acting challenge for you. Has that been fun to sink your teeth into?
Hale Appleman: “It’s very fun. It was a little scary at first because I was treading new territory that I never ever had to explore before. But, yeah, I’m definitely enjoying it more and more as the season goes on.”