Actress Olivia Taylor Dudley began acting at the age of seventeen, making her big screen debut as a dancer in the film Anna Nicole. After that, she scored several minor movie roles before landing a guest spot on the show NCIS. Then, in 2011, she was cast as the recurring character Elizabeth Clark on the hit crime drama CSI: Miami. When that part wrapped up, she turned her attention back to movies, appearing in The Dictator, The Chernobyl Diaries, Dumbbells, Transcendence, The Barber, The Vatican Tapes and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. In addition, she also guest-starred on the shows Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, The Mindy Project, Arrested Development, Uproxx Video and The Comedians. Now, she’s starring as the character Alice Quinn on the hit SyFy show The Magicians. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Dudley about what drew her to the show, what we can expect from the rest of the season and her love for the shows Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Keep reading to see what Dudley had to say!
What appealed to you about “The Magicians”?
I’ve always been a big fan of magic and the fantasy genre, so anytime that comes along, I always want to jump on it. (laughs). When I read the pilot script, I loved it, which made me want to read the first books, and once I started reading the books, I realized how complex the characters are that Lev wrote and that it’s not just about magic. So, I thought that there was such a deep well of character work to do that I was like “I’d really love to see where this goes.” So, mainly, it was the characters.
What was your first impression of Alice?
When I first auditioned and read for the show, I read for the Julia character, which never actually felt right but that was what was sent my way. Then, in the audition room, it still didn’t feel right, and an hour after that audition, they called me and said “What about Alice?” And I was like “I love Alice! I absolutely love Alice! I get her.” (laughs). She’s kind of an introvert–actually, she’s totally an introvert, and I’m definitely a hermit and an introvert, so I understand that mindset. It’s exciting to get to play a character who is so powerful. She’s so strong and intelligent, and roles like that don’t always come along, so it’s nice to get to play somebody who is known for being the most powerful.
Did you add anything to the role that wasn’t originally in the script or in the books?
I think that Lev wrote so many complex, beautiful characters on the page that there was so much source material to work off of. You know, when you read any book, everyone has their own ideas of who these characters are, and I had my idea when I read the books but I didn’t fully understand who Alice could be until I got to set and was put in the costumes and the make-up, and only then was I like “Oh, this is Alice.” I don’t know. I felt her in my body at the time and that’s what I went with. I don’t think I necessarily changed anything. I think in the books that Alice had black hair, but other than that, I don’t know. In my head, I got to play the Alice that I saw when I read the books.
What has been your favorite scene to film so far?
Ooooo, I don’t really want to give that away! (laughs) Fillory definitely plays a big part for everybody, but I can’t really give that away. It’s a lot like the books. I mean, we weave in and out of what the books do so it’s impossible to do an exact adaptation of the books on the screen, but now we have the chance to take these characters that we love so much in the books and put them in new situations, and one of them is Fillory as a location that maybe not everybody got to go to in the books.
What challenges will Alice face this season?
Well, I think the challenges that Alice will face this season are, for starters, her relationships. She’s never really wanted to have friends, and now she’s forced to have these relationships with people like Margot and Quentin and Penny. She’s learning how to socialize and be a normal human. Alice really isn’t that interested in magic but I think she will come to see what magic can mean for her own personal life. So, she goes on that journey, and then there’s a bigger journey that the group goes on that I can’t really give away because of spoilers! But, for all of the characters, I think it’s just about learning who they are in the world, what kind of person they want to become and learning from the mistakes that they’ve made in the past. Things get interesting between her and Quentin, as they do in the books. That storyline is one that I’m really excited about (laughs).
Were you surprised to learn that Alice wasn’t recruited by Brakebills like the others, that she kind of conned her way into it?
Actually, when I auditioned for the role, the piece that Sera Gamble and John McNamara had written and given to me was a scene in which Alice is talking to the Dean about how she was going to go to this school regardless of if she was invited or not, and I loved that about her. She’s rebellious not for rebellion’s sake but because she’s on a mission. She’s a strong woman and has firm beliefs about what she’s set out to do, and that’s something that I can really relate to. So, yeah, I love that about her, and I knew it because I read the books, but it’s such a pleasure to get to play somebody who is just unstoppable.
So, besides your character, who is your favorite character on the show?
I want to say Quentin because I think Alice and Quentin are very similar people, and I understand Quentin the most, but I have the most fun watching Eliot. I think Hale did an amazing job with his interpretation of Eliot. He’s so fun and free! I think people are going to love his relationship with Margot, too. I love Eliot (laughs).
I love Eliot, too! He’s one of my favorites.
Yeah, he’s really great!
Alright, so I always enjoy asking this question: what shows, movies, books, etc. bring out the nerd in you?
Oh man…honest to God, I haven’t had the chance to read many books in the last few years unless it’s something for work, because I spend most of my time reading scripts. (laughs). So, I haven’t been much of a reader as of late other than “The Magicians”. TV shows…I don’t know, I don’t get the chance to watch much TV. Oddly enough, I have yet to watch all of “Game of Thrones” which makes no sense to me, but I’ve built it up in my head that it’s so good that I keep waiting for the right time to binge-watch because it’s the only way that I watch TV. I don’t know…do you have good recommendations?
Well, “Game of Thrones” is one of my favorites. I read all of those books. And what’s cool about that show is that it’s surpassed where the books are, so we’re at a point where even people who have read the books have no idea what’s going to happen.
Cool! That’s fun. I had a roommate a few years ago who would have the books on tape playing in the house, and I caught little snippets of it and watched the first season and loved it. I need to watch more.
And “The Walking Dead” is always a really good one!
Yeah, I watched the first few seasons of that one, too! It’s hard for me. Over the last few years, I’ve been working so much and only get like small blocks of time where I can binge-watch a show instead of watching it while it’s on, so I’m always like a couple of seasons behind. I prefer binge-watching shows, but now that I have a show on the air in which I haven’t seen all of the episodes, I’m watching them basically as they come out, and I’m like, “Now I get it! I’d really like to know what the next episode of this show is like!” (laughs) It’s kind of fun to be waiting all week and thinking about it but in this day and age, binge-watching seems to be the culture.
What can we expect from the rest of this season?
I think people are going to be really surprised to see how dark these storylines go. The first few episodes are a lot lighter fare than the rest of the season and–I mean, these characters, they think magic is going to help them and it only really makes things worse. I’ve always been a huge fan of magic and wished that I could do magic in real life, and there have been many times where I was convinced that I could, but after doing this show, I realized that having magic powers is probably not the best thing (laughs). So, I think people are going to be surprised to see how dark the storylines get, and I really hope that we get to do it for another season because where it all ends is like killing me. I want to keep going farther with it.
You can catch the next episode of The Magicians on Monday, February 1 at 9:00 pm on SyFy.