Last week, Syfy announced that it greenlit The Magicians for a 12-episode season.
The series, based on Lev Grossman's best-selling trilogy, follows students at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, who have been lucky enough to learn that the magic they grew up reading about actually exists. For fans of the books (or fantasy, or magic and adventure in general), this is VERY EXCITING NEWS. BuzzFeed got a sneak peek at the cast, and a chance to talk to the writers and executive producers, Sera Gamble and John McNamara, in a phone interview. Here's what we learned.
1. The beloved trilogy is in good hands.
Let's get that out of the way. Gamble and McNamara are self-identified fantasy and science fiction nerds, respectively, and they came to the series first and foremost as fans of the books.
"As someone who's a fan of genre and fantasy, I just ordered [The Magicians] off of Amazon because it looked fantastic," Gamble told BuzzFeed. "I ordered it because I — technically a grown woman — still want to be entertained by stories about people who have magic in their lives."
Gamble is likely best known for her work as writer and showrunner on The CW's Supernatural; more recently, she's worked on the upcoming NBC crime drama Aquarius, which McNamara created.
2. Lev Grossman is very involved.
"He's been involved in everything from reading drafts, to having a say in who the director was — Mike Cahill he loved — to casting," said McNamara. "We're having dinner with him on Friday."
3. Jason Ralph is our live-action Quentin Coldwater — and we should be stoked about it.
Maybe Ralph doesn't look quite as awkward as the Quentin readers have envisioned, but Gamble and McNamara are certain he's the one.
"We worked with Jason on Aquarius, where he played a character that could have been a one-off in the pilot," said Gamble. "But he was so great and so fun to write for that the character became heavily recurring. He has an energy and intelligence that made us want to see him in this role. He's just a really, really good actor, and a pleasure to work with."
4. He's surrounded by an equally exciting cast.
As for the other Brakebills students and Fillory explorers: Stella Maeve (of Chicago P.D.) will play Julia; Hale Appleman (of Teeth and Smash) will play Eliot; Arjun Gupta (of Nurse Jackie) will play Penny; and Summer Bishil (of Towelhead) will play Margo. Alice is yet to be announced.
5. (Margo = Janet.)
Don't worry, that isn't a new character. "There's just a lot of J's," McNamara said. "Even Lev said, 'You know, I kind of prefer the name Margo.'"
6. Quentin & co. won't be teenagers when you meet them.
If these actors look older than you envisioned, it's because their characters are.
"In Lev's books, when we first meet Quentin, he's 17," Gamble told BuzzFeed. "When we were conceiving of how to do this for television — because, you know, the books span a great period of time in the characters' lives — we aged them up a little bit and they are in graduate school."
7. We'll get an early glimpse of Fillory.
Gamble says we won't have to wait long to see the fantasy world on the screen — and they're having fun bringing it to life.
"We see Fillory in the pilot while Quentin reads the Fillory book series. Fillory is a place that he's been daydreaming about, and dreaming about. So our first introduction to Fillory is via Quentin's obsession with the books, and then we'll sort of roll it out from there. It was definitely a challenge of the series that John and I were attracted to from the day we picked up the books."
8. And we won't have to wait for Julia's backstory, either.
Julia disappears for most of the first book, and it isn't until book two that we as readers learn what she was up to. For the show, though, we get to dive right in.
"The fun thing about doing this for television is that we can now tell those stories simultaneously, we can tell the timeline all at once," said Gamble. "We can cut away from Quentin and show you what's happening with Julia in real time, and that's the plan. So starting, I think, even as early as the pilot, certainly very early in Season 1, people who are fans of the books will realize we're telling pieces of Julia's story from book two."
9. It will be as dark as you remember.
But also just as funny and ~real~.
"What I think Lev does is, he never forgets wit," McNamara said. "He never forgets irony. And he never makes magic the answer to anyone's problems. So, to me, it feels like life."
10. There might be some changes from the books, but don't expect to get any hints beforehand.
Says Gamble, "As for what will stay the same and what will change — we don't want to give away too much! We're pretty spoiler-phobic. But we can say we are working with Lev. And we're approaching this show as fans of the novels."
11. It's the series that will fill any magic void in your life — even if you haven't read the books.
"If you grew up loving Harry Potter, and now you're an adult ... there's a little hole in your life because you were sort of privileged to grow up in the generation where these books kept coming out that had so much magic in them," Gamble said. "I think Lev, with these books, he's kind of taken that to an adult place. He has told us that he wrote the book that he was missing in his adult life."