back to top

13 Secrets Arjun Gupta Revealed About "The Magicians"

How many vests does Penny own, exactly?

Posted on

This is Arjun Gupta, aka Penny on the Syfy show The Magicians.

Syfy / Via

Those who've seen the show, based on the book series by Lev Grossman, know that it's filled with magic, sex, and typical college angst. Plus a few magical creatures and evil witches here and there.

And Gupta who plays Penny, the aloof and insanely talented traveler magician, talked to BuzzFeed about some of the deepest and darkest secrets hidden behind the magically-protected Brakebills College. Here's what he had to say...

1. It seems like none of the magicians are ever actually in class… How often do the classes happen? / Via Syfy

"They're in class a lot. Magic is hard to learn. It's not easy. It's something that we tried to convey in Brakebills South with just how excruciating it is to do that one spell over and over again. The world that Lev created is that you're in class a lot, and magic is very difficult, and kind of obnoxious to learn," Gupta told BuzzFeed. He explained that due to the constraints of TV, we just don't see it much. "I imagine you'd just watch a lot of shots of Penny staring blankly at his desk."

2. How many vests does Penny own?


"You know, here's the beautiful thing about Penny: Penny can have one vest and it'll look like there's a thousand, because he accessorizes so damn well. But I think, in reality, there were really only three or four," Gupta said. "One of the things I talked to the wardrobe designer, Magali Guidasci, about was that Penny is someone who doesn't have a lot of stuff. So I liked the idea of having a few pieces that would get used in different ways."

3. Is everyone a magician at Brakebills? Like, what about the janitors?

Syfy / Via

"Let's say yes! Yes, they have to be, because you can't get into Brakebills without it," Gupta said. "Like, how's that person going to get into work every morning?"


5. Why does Penny seem to eye-fuck the room whenever he's upset?

"Here's the thing about eye-fucking: if someone can handle you eye-fucking them, they're either really worthwhile to hang out with or you should just walk away. So it's a great way of testing someone. Again, speaking as Penny, not as Arjun at all," he said.

6. How come all of the students perform this insanely dangerous magic on their own and none of the professors seem to know about it? / Via Syfy

"One of the things Lev talked about that's different from Harry Potter and Narnia is that we're the next part in that lineage of magical education genre," Gupta explained. "There's no Dumbledore, there's no Aslan. That's something that we consciously try to avoid showing — that we're getting a lot of help — because in life how much help do you really get? And Lev was someone who wanted to show that in life we do have to just figure it out by ourselves at the end of the day."

7. As a magician, how do you stop yourself from just conjuring mac and cheese on a 24 hour loop?

Syfy / Via

"Well, if you're as shirtless as often as I am on a television show, you don't want to eat mac and cheese that much," Gupta laughed. "I'm gonna tell you the truth. So that's how I don't conjure it up 24 hours a day."


8. How did Penny get so great at insulting Quentin?

Syfy / Via

"Jason Ralph (Quentin) and I have so much fun," Gupta explained. "We don't improv a ton, the show is very well scripted because we have incredible writers, but at the end of every scene we'll just riff insults at each other. And it's so fun. Quentin's such an easy target. It's almost like I feel guilty at times at how easy it is. It's almost too easy."

9. If you know you might die when you're traveling, why do it?

When you run into your ex 🙈🏃👋 #TravelTuesday #TheMagicians @ArjunGuptaBK

"Penny wants to learn this. He needs to be an adult about it and figure that shit out. It's really fun to play, because having a bunch of adults not give you information and provide obstacles is fun as an actor."

10. Why does Penny hate Taylor Swift so much?

Syfy / Via

"I, Arjun, have a lot of respect for Taylor," Gupta prefaced. "But for Penny, that's the definition of surface level pop shit that Penny would just be like, 'Really? Shake it off? Suck it up!'."

11. Are the magicians ever tempted to go on Facebook and just be like, “I CAN LITERALLY DO MAGIC, GUYS."

Syfy / Via

"I think Quentin would want to, sure. I think Penny doesn't know what Facebook is, and probably couldn't give less of a shit. I think that's one of the beauties of Brakebills: not being able to have phones."


12. Is there anything at Brakebills that isn’t magical? Like, can you just use a normal toilet? / Via Syfy

"Yes, the toilet's are normal, sadly. They don't sing to you," Gupta said. "It's not like the posters talk to you. It's not magical like Harry Potter where the statues move and shit. This is real-world magic."

13. Is magic real, though?


"I'm answering as Arjun: Yes, magic is real. But what do we define magic to be? I think that when we as a community come together to help someone, when someone is able to offer help for someone else, when you hear someone laughing that's been in pain — I think that that's magic. That's the magic of our potential as humans. To come together and make things around us better. I think that too often we're caught up in our own fear and our own ego that don't allow us to see the ways we can come together. Marion Williamson talks about miracles, and miracles are anytime that anyone acts from love, that's a miracle. Not everyone's going to agree with me, and that's totally fine, but I enjoy that definition of miracle and magic so much more because it allows that to be present in the day-today."

New episodes of The Magicians air on Syfy, Mondays at 9/8c, and you can catch up online here.