The Nerds recently spent some time with Summer Bishil, star of Syfy’s hit TV show The Magicians. We learned what fandoms she can’t live without, her real life friendships with her co-stars, and what spell she would die to have in real life!
We love The Magicians, as do our listeners, your particular character is one that we love to discuss. Margo has "grown" a lot since the first season. Tell us about that. What was it like living and acting that out and seeing it happen on screen?
Thank you, Margo has grown. A lot of that growth stems from the expansion that the writing has provided, but I was also very determined to make her nuanced and interesting, not your typical mean girl saying a funny line here or there. It was always important to me to make her as complex as possible. I have worked in television before, but you’re lucky when a show runs this long because you have the privilege of long-term character analysis. Living with a character for as long as three years makes you grow as a performer and what I’ve learned throughout the process has been invaluable. One of the things I have always tried to do is to remain open to direction. Staying open means continued growth.
You have some epic, laugh out loud one-liners on this show. Do you have any particular favorites?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose, it would be in season two when I said, “I’m going to shove my Jimmy Choos so far up your ass you’re going to taste next season,” to Prince Ess.
We love the dynamic between Margo and Eliot. You've had some light-hearted heartwarming moments, and some deep "real" moments. Your friendship on the show has taken us through a roller coaster of feelings. Tell us a bit about that experience. Do you see yourself saying "I would totally say this to a friend" in real life?
I wouldn’t say the same things as Margo would. We are vastly different creatures – I couldn’t be further from Margo. I tend to overthink things and am incredibly sensitive and terribly shy so I don’t communicate the way she does, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t sincere. She is intensely loyal and loves Eliot ferociously. It’s easy to craft a friendship on-screen with Hale Appleman because we share one off screen. I have so much respect for him as a person and as an actor – he is a special breed of human. Working with him on The Magicians has been such a gift. I have learned so much from him, and oftentimes his insights and presence on-set has given me so much comfort and support and provided opportunities for me to grow as an actor. I can’t speak about him highly enough.
The spells in this show are awesome, and magic has always been a love of ours. Are you a fan of magic? Or other fantasy themed shows or characters?
I always loved the movie Practical Magic growing up – my best friend and I absolutely loved it. Yes, the fantasy genre is something I have always loved and appreciated. For instance, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is one of my all-time favorite shows. I have seen that series all the way through three times! Buffy forever! I am a fangirl at heart, I truly am.
Our podcast focuses on how nerd culture, fandom, comics, and TV have helped us escape from depression and anxiety. Are you into any other fandoms like The Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones....or superheroes and comics?
I love The Walking Dead! I have seen every episode and I’ve been a fan from day one! I have also read so many Anne Rice novels! I love fantasy and horror --- anything supernatural. Name it and I’ve probably seen it or read it, or both!
Lastly, if I could specialize in anything in your show, I would love to be able to "travel" like Penny does. If you could choose one spell that you could use anytime you want in real life...what would it be?
I would love to travel like Penny as well; I would blip in and out of Maui on the daily!
Summer Bishil stars as ‘Margo Hanson’ in SyFy’s The Magicians currently in its third season airing new episodes on Wednesdays at 9/8c.