Interview « Stella Maeve Daily –


The plot thickens—and sickens—tonight on The Magicians as Julia (Stella Maeve) makes a stomach-turning realization about Reynard (Mackenzie Astin) that leads her into a nightmarish situation alongside a supportive Kady (Jade Tailor). It’s the latest twist to test Julia’s sanity and, according to her portrayer, it may also be a stepping stone toward a stronger, maybe even more magical Julia than we’ve seen before. Let’s hope so, because if anyone deserves a break amongst the Brakebills crew, it’s this one—and maybe Quentin (Jason Ralph), who winds up in his own crazy scenario after abandoning the fantasy world of Fillory.

So Julia seems to be a pain magnet. How bad is it going to get for her?
Oh god, it gets worse than you can imagine. I didn’t think it was possible…but yeah. It’s bad.

Given her penchant for poor life choices, she still has that offer from the Beast (Charles Mesure) to get rid of her Shade self and erase all of her pain.
Right. It’s as if somebody comes to you and says “Hey, here’s an opportunity to [shed] anything awful that’s happened to you, a golden ticket to literally wipe your mind of whatever abuse or whatever it is that you’ve been through so you don’t have to deal with it.” That’s essentially what The Beast offered her. In the beginning, she toys with this enticement and later we get to see whether or not she decides to take his offering. It’s so enticing! I mean, imagine, if you didn’t ever have to feel anything again? God, if it’ll stop her pain? Absolutely.

But with the pain, there could also go her other emotions?
See, that’s the grey area which we will get to discover later in the show. It’s like, you won’t feel the pain anymore, but with that, you might not feel anything else either. So is it worth it? Is it worth relieving yourself of the pain and the hurt, but also suppress everything else that’s possible good?

Beyond all of that, where is she headed as far as her relationships with the others who are trying to save Fillory?
It’s cool because we do get to see more of Julia in Fillory, which is so much fun. I hope if we get a Season 3 that we get to really develop her there. We will get to see her interact with the people there. She’s got some things with Margo (Summer Bishil) and one of the last scenes we shot [this season] was Eliot (Hale Appleman) and Julia, which has never before been seen on the show. So I’m really excited to see how that comes out. It’s gonna be awesome. [Laughs]

And how do those two get along?
I think there’s a mutual respect.

I can totally see Eliot being like, ‘Oh, we should be best friends or something.’
Right, like ‘I hate you but I love you…I think.’ [Laughs]

Reynard—can the others forgive her for making a deal with the Beast that essentially led to Alice’s death?
Oh she feels so terrible. And with Julia, you know, there’s already the self-pity and the guilt. This is a woman who’s struggling to love her self, struggling to find her identity and pseudo-hates herself. Now she finds out that because of her, [that pact] has caused death. She blames herself. But I like to think that these characters are empathetic. Anytime somebody breaks your trust, you’re wary. But, that being said, you can forgive. Forgetting is another thing entirely. Totally different animal. But forgiveness is definitely alive within this world and these characters.

Can you tell us if Julia factors into saving Fillory?
She might be a missing link. I think everyone has something to do with it, you know what I mean? I think that’s where we can kind of see these characters come back together again…Fillory depends on it. Magic depends on it.

Has Julia come to grips with her feeling for Quentin?
I love that story because we never know where it’s gonna go. I don’t even know where it’s going! It’s just one of those relationships, I’m sure you’ve had them, I’ve had them, where there’s a sexual tension but there’s a best friendship and you love each other. Do you take it there or do you not? I think there are times where it’s like Julia’s into him and it’s unrequited. Or he’s into her and it’s unrequited. It’s like a balancing act and I think only time will tell. Ultimately, she just wants Quentin to be happy. And, I think, in this season we get to see that Julia believes her happiness is a lost cause. In fact, there’s a certain turning point in the season where it doesn’t matter to her anymore. She just wants him to have happiness because I don’t think she believes she’ll get it again.

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Hidden behind big, hazel-brown eyes and a bright smile is the heart of a dreamer. Stella Maeve is a performer searching for challenge with each new role she takes on. Returning to the SyFy hit series, The Magicians, we caught up with the engaging artist to find out more.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Where did you grow up?
The greatest city in the world New York, New York. Hell’s Kitchen, to be specific.

When did acting come into the picture?
I’d like to think the picture was acting and I came into it predestined… if you believe in that sort of thing. According to my mom, when I was four years old, my dad showed me To Kill A Mockingbird, and that was it. I was hooked. You couldn’t get me to sit still for anything except for a black and white classic film (and of course Boo Radley).

Biggest influences…
It’s too hard to pick just one! I’m constantly finding inspiration from many different outlets. My parents shared the gift of music, film, theatre, and the arts with me from an early age.
Prince continues to have a huge impact on me. He’s incredible – from playing 27 different instruments to composing every song he ever put out, directing/writing/starring in his own films, not to mention all of the artists he discovered/developed. He was one of the firsts (in my time, at least) to make sexuality fluid and androgyny acceptable. Being weird and different was a beautiful thing. We are all human – all one. I could write a novel on my love for and connection to this man. I think we come from the same alien planet.
My favorite movie is The Panic in Needle Park. You can’t take your eyes off Al Pacino in that film. It is astounding all around. Joan Didion, who is one of my favorite authors, wrote the screenplay.
And Malick… anything Terrance Malick puts out consistently blows my mind to pieces. His work is awe-inspiring, my favorite director.
Didion and Malick have this way of writing that’s stream of consciousness. It’s the only way I understand how to write. It puts you, as the audience, in the driver’s seat, in the characters mind, and takes you on a journey viewed through their (the characters) eyes.

You’ve jumped feet-first into a tough industry where there are more actors than roles to go around. How do you deal with the competitive nature of it all and the pressures, particularly women face to be a certain size or look a certain way?
It is a tough industry, you’re absolutely right. It is not as glamorous as one might think. I’d say my biggest competition is with myself. My team is constantly reminding me, “only you can get in your own way” and it’s true (and, oh boy, have I). It’s hard not to get in your head about things or put added pressure and stress on yourself. I’m still guilty of it. I remind myself in any given moment that all I can do is my best – be prepared, work my butt off, do the research, the reading, the homework and be present and find the joy. I try not to overthink things or beat myself up too much and to be ready for the next opportunity.
Society has us conditioned about what “beauty” is, but beauty comes from within, from the soul. These bodies are only temporary vessels which will eventually age, deteriorate and fail us. It’s what’s inside that really matters. I genuinely believe that. Beauty is like art. What deems someone or something as beautiful? It’s all relative, it’s all perception. There should be no wrong or right answer. I guess I just hope that the world will start to judge beauty on more than what is on the surface.

Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep… whose career do you look at and think, “I love their creative choices. I love their body of work…”?
You didn’t mention the messiah – Cate Blanchett! Yes, Charlize is incredible. So are Tilda Swinton, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniel Day, Gary Oldman. I could go on and on.

Best career advice you’ve gotten…
I’m not sure what the best advice I’ve gotten is. Maybe I haven’t gotten it yet.

You’ve appeared on Grey’s Anatomy, Chicago P.D., Rizzoli & Isles and Law and Order S.V.U. to name a few shows. What did you take away from those experiences?
I think I’ve learned something different from every job experience. Whether I realize it at the time or in retrospect, gaining knowledge through experience is the only way to grow.

You are returning for season 2 of The Magicians on Syfy. For those just jumping on board, what do they need to know about the show?
Yes, season 2. The Magicians is based on a trilogy of books written by Lev Grossman. If you’re into the fantasy genre, then you’ll really enjoy it, but even if you’re not into fantasy, the books are a great read. The first season of the show is on Netflix, so you should catch up if you haven’t already!

You play Julia Wicker on the fantasy series. Tell us about her…
I do indeed. Julia Wicker… where do I begin?! She’s such a complex character. It’s extremely challenging to sink into her skin as she has so many layers. She’s fierce and feral, beautifully tragic, terrified, yet unbelievably strong. I think there are ways we all identify with Julia. We watch this young woman start out as a privileged Upper West Side girl and then turn into a street magic-practicing survivor. We get to watch her navigate this journey and hopefully come out on other side but, no matter what, she’s someone you root for.

What was your approach to playing her?
I wanted to play Julia as she was written in the novels, the way Lev (Grossman) had envisioned her and the way Sera Gamble and John McNamara formatted her for the screen.

Let’s talk a bit of fashion. Three designers you are digging right now…
I love what YSL is doing right now. Prada. I thought Burberry had a really cool fall collection (2016). Toga Pulla makes the most incredible boots I’ve ever seen. I just bought three different pairs.

How would you describe Julia’s style?
Hmm, Julia’s style is pretty conservative. It’s very A-line, solid colors, preppy and simple but chic, with some black jeans. I’m hoping next year we get to play more and explore with wardrobe and costumes in Fillory.

On a day off, what would you be wearing? How would you describe your style?
I’m liable to wear anything. My favorite thing is lingerie. For street clothes, most likely high-waisted black ripped 70’s style jeans, cropped tee shirt, no bra, with a loud vintage jacket (my army one or multi colored purple faux fur). Most days I look homeless… haha.

If you could raid one celebrity closet, whose would it be?
One?! I think Prince, Stevie Nicks, Chloe Sevigny, Cher, Bianca Jagger. Some of the greatest style icons of our time. The music world always takes such great risks with fashion, whereas actors (with some exceptions) tend to play it safe. I’m hoping to bridge that gap, blur those lines a bit and open up some room to play in.

When you have downtime, what do you like to get into?
What’s downtime? Ha. I love reading, playing music, jam sessions with friends, cooking, watching Netflix, hanging with my pup and my family, dancing around the living room naked. Traveling is always a treat and anything having to do with a spa is always awesome. People watching, seeing live theatre, art exhibits, museums, learning. I want to constantly be learning. That said, I love what I do so if I can be doing that, that’s what I’d prefer. Oh. Baths… I love taking baths. In fact, I might be addicted to baths.

Tell me something we’d be surprised to know about you?
I don’t know what would surprise you. I guess that I play bass and drums? Or that I have a secret passion for making floral arrangements.

What’s the master plan?
Okay. The master plan. Wait, isn’t there that quote “life happens when your busy making plans?” I just want to be happy, make my art, reach people through it and connect the world.

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When we last left The Magicians, Julia was making a deal with the “devil” and essentially leaving her friends to die in Fillory while she seeks revenge for her rape. That’s a pretty heavy place to leave the show. If you have seen the trailer you know that everyone lives, but that just means there is more weirdness in store.
I sat down with Stella Maeve, the actress who plays Julia, who tells me about Julia’s journey this season, the ramifications of her rape, and more.

What can we expect from The Magicians this season?
Expect the unexpected. Expect everything that you wouldn’t. That’s the best tease I can give.

When we last saw Julia, she was pretty much bailing on her friends in Fillory. How is that going to play out in Season 2?
That’s an interesting take on it. I don’t think that Quentin views it as her “bailing.” He understands the severity of the trauma she has experienced, and with that comes great responsibility and great residual effects. I think that he gets that, that he understands that, and he doesn’t blame her for it. I think he understands that she is on her journey to do whatever is necessary to live with this pain. I don’t even think she was doing it intentionally to ditch everyone. I think in the moment, Julia was like, “He’s about to kill Quentin, I’m going to make a deal with the devil, essentially, to save Quentin’s life.” “Take me instead” almost, or like, “Let’s dance.” Get him away from the situation. In those moments, there is nothing saying that the beast wouldn’t kill Quentin immediately. So Julia is like, “Let me see if I can use him as a tool to get the revenge that I want, that will maybe help heal me, and also save my friend.” I think my intentions were good!

When we last saw her, Julia had the ‘god power’ in her. How long is this ‘god power’ going to last?
It’s not really defined, to be honest. We get glimpses of it, then it dissipates, then it comes back, then there is an undertone of that. In the books, there is a thru-line with that, and it ends with a result. Whether or not they are going to do that with the TV show, I don’t know. Julia, in the books, does essentially become a god. I think it is foreshadowing. Leaving breadcrumbs. Possibly. They won’t even tell me.

The Magicians always has weird and quirky plotlines going on. What kind of weird stuff can we look forward to this season?
It’s so hard for Julia’s character, because here we are on this culty occult show — I’d like it to be comparable to the John Waters of the world — all of these characters are having ludicrous, crazy, fantastic situations … and Julia gets the shitty end of that stick. All my stuff is dark and serious and I don’t get to play! That being said, Fillory is an awesome thing that gets to happen much more in Season 2. Julia does some … interesting things in Fillory.

Were you all dark this season, or did you get to shoot any fun stuff?
I loved shooting the Fillory stuff. I loved going to Fillory. It was while Vancouver’s weather was still warm, so it was wonderful. It was nice to be outside in this beautiful forest.

So you do get to go back to Fillory.
Oh yeah. Which is very fun. I hope in Season 3 we’ll get a lot more of Julia’s story.

Have you been picked up for a new season?
Unclear yet. I think we won’t find out until we air the second season. But that would be super fun. No one knows anything yet. But right now we are Syfy’s number-one show, so that’s positive, right?

What have been some of your favorite things to do this season?
Getting to work with Jason [Ralph, who plays Quentin] is always one of my favorite things.

Have you seen any episodes yet?
I haven’t. They sent them to me, but I don’t know whether or not to watch it. I have a hard time sometimes watching my own work. That being said, I probably should. Maybe I will. I caught glimpses, bits and pieces, of the first season.

I can tell, you are getting visually anxious just talking about watching yourself!
I want to exist in that moment and make the art that other people can enjoy.

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