The Magicians: Summer Bishil talks about Margo’s development and playing Janet

Summer Bishil -- Photo credit: Diana Ragland -- Acquired via True PR
Summer Bishil -- Photo credit: Diana Ragland -- Acquired via True PR /

The Magicians is back this week with its Season 4 premiere. We’ll get a chance to see how our heroes will get out of the new mess they created. Summer Bishil gets the chance to take on Janet. She shares her excitement and teases the character in this exclusive interview.

Hands up if you can’t wait for The Magicians Season 4. I know that’s every person in the world — okay, every single person who has seen Seasons 1-3 and that should be every person in the world. The series is back and now it’s time to find out how our heroes will handle the mess they created at the end of the Season 3 finale.

Summer Bishil, best known to us as the fiesty, caring Margo, is taking on the role of Janet. At first, Janet may seem like early Margo, but there’s more depth to this character to come. In an exclusive interview, Summer shares what we can expect from Janet, dealing with Eliot’s demise and change, and forging new relationships in the series.

More from Syfy

Hidden Remote: So, let me start with the books. Had you read them before getting the role of Margo?

Summer Bishil: I hadn’t even heard of the series before. I went in as any other audition. I’d turned 25 and was just taking acting seriously again and I booked The Magicians. I’d never had the chance to play a character like Margo, and it was an exciting thing for me at the time. It was a big incentive for me and was something I’d been trying to convince the industry I could play for a while.

I quickly delved into the books after the pilot. I tried to figure out as much as I could. Hale [Appleman] and I worked really hard to develop that bond on and off screen.

HR: It really shows.

Bishil: Thank you!

Photo credit: The Magicians/Syfy by Eric Milner, Acquired via NBC Media Village
Photo credit: The Magicians/Syfy by Eric Milner, Acquired via NBC Media Village /

HR: So after years of watching Margo and she’s had so much development, we have this new Janet! It’s exciting but scary at the same time.

Bishil: It is! You know, Janet is just so similar to Margo. But, for me, I was just so happy to go back to Margo, because it’s so much fun to play her. I didn’t have that fear of making [Janet] different enough, because it didn’t need to be. They were very much the same person, Janet just wasn’t as much emotionally evolved.

HR: It was a little like Margo from the first couple of episodes.

Bishil: Yeah, she was Margo from before everything that happened in her life changed her and forced her to evolve. It’s like what Margo would have been had she been left to herself. It was weird.

Related Story. The Magicians Season 4 promo reminds us how we left our heroes. light

HR: What has it been like to play Margo? I think out of all the characters Margo and Eliot are the two who have had the most development emotionally.

Bishil: It felt like a gift. When I first signed up, I was looking at potentially a six-year contract. After Season 1, I was like “oh, what am I going to do next year?” and it was tough. What I did on Season 1 was fun but as an actress I wanted growth.

I didn’t worry too much that there wouldn’t be. I did my best and hoped the writers saw that, and they really did. I had no idea where they would take this or how much she’d grow. I didn’t realize how much Margo had grown until it was done because you’re so busy working and trying to do a good job that you don’t really analyze the material.

HR: [The Magicians] Season 3 had that awesome, beautiful moment on the ship. What did you think when you got the script for that?

Bishil: Thank you! That was a standout moment. When I got the script, it was really an opportunity. With Margo, I went with the rule “carve as much out in as little time as you can, because you’ll be given less time to do it and less traditional ways of doing it.”

Now I’ve been given a lot more to do, so it’s not to the degree as it was in Season 1 where I’d have a couple of lines to make her as three-dimensional as possible. Now the scenes do it for me, and I always knew that would be a great moment where she showed her heart and compassion. I really wanted to do that, but in true The Magicians fashion, she was comedic so I really wanted to land the joke without losing the heart.

It’s hard work on this show.

Summer Bishil — Photo credit: Diana Ragland — Acquired via True PR
Summer Bishil — Photo credit: Diana Ragland — Acquired via True PR /

HR: I’ve always liked how everyone is flawed and realistic.

Bishil: Yeah, they feel like a group of college kids who have developed over a few years. Some of them just happen to be witches and others have become monsters.

HR: So, this season is a little like setting a reset button. You’ve said Janet is a little like early Margo. Is there anything else you can tell us about her?

Bishil: She’s fierce. She’s very determined to figure out what the hell is wrong with her. I don’t know how much was removed because of the edits, but she meditates heavily and has a reliance on prescription drugs. At first, she thinks she’s hallucinating, seeing weird colors with her eye. It’s been happening for a while and nobody’s believing her.

When you first hear her talk about it, she’s already at her wit’s end and she’s pretty heavily medicated. I don’t know if they left in the use of Xanax and God only knows what. There’s definitely an element of destruction in her.

There’s no Eliot and no real meaningful bond that Janet has. I feel like she’s a very lonely person, very angry. But she’s also determined to find out what’s wrong with her and she’ll go on a journey.

Watch your favorite shows on fuboTV: Watch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels with a 7-day FREE trial!

HR: I’ve noticed out of all, we see least of Margo’s glamour.

Bishil: Yeah, I’m not sure why. Agam [Darshi] is a talented actress and it was so fun to see her play this character I’ve developed for the last three years. She really got it.

HR: Did you work together at all to get the similar mannerisms?

Bishil: Not privately, but on the day in the scene. I’m sure she did her own homework.

HR: And this whole situation is a big risk for the show.

Bishil: It is. I remember reading the finale and wondering how they were going to get out of this one. But they always find a way out of it.

THE MAGICIANS — Photo by: Eric Milner/SYFY — Acquired via NBC Media Village
THE MAGICIANS — Photo by: Eric Milner/SYFY — Acquired via NBC Media Village /

HR: Sometimes they break more than they fix. You mention there’s no Eliot now. Seeing the two lose the friendship was hard and they were just starting to mend that bond. If/when Margo gets all her memories back, what’s it going to be like for her and Eliot moving forward?

Bishil: For me as an actor, I really hoped I’d get to show that grief. That’s what actors do. They want to control how their characters respond. But there wasn’t time to demonstrate that and she went into action very quickly. After months of mulling it over, it was the right thing. That’s what would happen in life.

If someone you love is now a monster but their body is still there, you’re not going to get sad and move on. You’re going to try to put them back together. Eliot’s body is right in front of her, so she’s not accepting of his death. She goes into autopilot and tries to find a solution.

It isn’t until Episode 4 when she starts to doubt and that was some of the most fun I’ve had on the show because I got to work with Trevor [Einhorn] the entire time. They have this relationship that evolves. As an actor, I wasn’t sure how to feel because I was grieving Hale and Eliot. I had to make Josh means something to me and by Episode 10, I stepped back and loved it.

You’re not going to get sad and move on. You’re going to try to put them back together.

HR: It’s so fun watching the different partnerships evolve.

Bishil: It’s definitely musical chairs!

HR: Speaking of musical chairs, there’s going to be another musical this season.

Bishil: Yes, there will. The musical is special for me. It’s my big moment from the book and it’s sort of her awakening. The writing was great. It’s so fulfilling as a woman and is the most fun I’ve ever had on the show, maybe any show.

I’m not a singer, but I knew there was one song I had to nail, something on it had to come through to support all the work I’d done. I put a lot of effort into one of the songs Hale and I sing together.

HR: My favorite musical number still has to be “One Day More.”

Bishil: Oh, that was so much fun. We had so much fun in Fillory with Brittany [Curran], Rizwan [Manji], and Sergio [Osuna]. Brittany is such a beautiful singer.

HR: Because you mention Brittany, Margo and Fen made a great team by the end of things in Season 3. Do we get to eventually see them back together at all?

Bishil: They will be back together at some point. I had the easiest year working with Brittany and Trevor. Margo and Fen go on a quest, so it was exciting to have some screen time together. We’ve always wanted to develop that relationship.

HR: So, my last question: If there is a Season 5, what would you like to see for Margo’s development?

Bishil: Wow! I think I’d like to see a more relaxed Margo. I’d like to see her laugh a little more. I’ve been struggling with the zaney material. It’s the greatest gift in my career, but I’d like some character scenes that are natural. Slow it down a bit.

But that’s just not The Magicians.

Next. Hale Appleman talks about Fillory without magic in The Magicians Season 3. dark

What do you hope to see in The Magicians Season 4? Are you ready for Janet/Margo’s journey? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The Magicians Season 4 premieres on Wednesday at 9/8c on SYFY.