INTERVIEW: Rick Worthy Talks ‘The Magicians’ Season Finale

Rick Worthy, also known as The Magiciansfavorite Dean, took a break from his prep for The Man In The High Castle to chat with us about tonight’s season finale and what Henry Fogg might do next. Check out his responses below, and then remember to tune in for the finale tonight on Syfy!

You have a varied history of science fiction and fantasy. What draws you to that genre?
Rick Worthy:
I’m a big nerd – geek and proud of it. I was a kid who was begging mom and dad to buy tickets to go see Superman I the movie, back in 1978. I’m a huge fan of the genre… For some reason, I connect with it. It’s the mythology of it, maybe? The transformation that one goes through to become something else. I think I’m spiritually drawn to it.

What brought you to The Magicians specifically, and to Dean Fogg?
Rick:
John McNamara is an old, old pal of mine. We worked together fifteen years ago on a show called Eyes. It lasted for maybe a season, but one of our staff writers was a young writer named Sera Gamble. I think she just never forgot about me. Flashforward to later, she was the showrunner on Supernatural and hired me to be the Alpha Vampire. So my agent called and said, “Sera and John have teamed up… They want you to play a teacher. You’re gonna die in the pilot.” And I said, “Okay, that’s great!” I had no idea the scope of it, that he would be not just a teacher but this powerful magician, the dean of the university called Brakebills. So it turned out really great.

I imagine the dean’s blindness is one of the most challenging aspects to play. How do you approach that as an actor?
Rick:
I had never done it before. The idea behind it was to get an understanding. If the Beast pulled out his eyeballs, does that mean he’s completely blind? In the second or third episode, I pull off my sunglasses and the eyeballs are back in but severely damaged all around the eye area. I asked Sera, “Can he see anything?” He can see just one percent of anything, like he can see an outline, but he can’t see what color hair or eyes or anything. And he can only do that with these enchanted sunglasses, so I figured out how to play him in that way. I wanted to play him as someone who can walk confidently around his office, but he can’t go a lot of places.

Henry has spent much of this season not being able to help the students.
Rick:
Yeah! It’s kind of frustrating. I really want to help these kids some kind of way.

How far do you think he would go for them if given the chance?
Rick:
He’s definitely the father figure of the show. Even though some of his kids have gone on to be kings and queens, he still is very much a presence in their lives whether they want to believe it or not. You’ll see a lot of that in the season finale. There’s a really cool thing that happens, and it’s sort of full circle. They’ll need him.

What has been your favorite moment to play as Dean Fogg?
Rick:
I thoroughly loved the pilot. You never know what line people are going to latch onto, and in the pilot it turned out to be, “Do some goddamn magic!” [Laughs] I remember I was reading the script wondering, “How am I gonna do this line?” We did it maybe once or twice, and I said I’m just gonna go to level 40 on it. Just really scare the shit out of him. Jason didn’t know that I was gonna do that and neither did Mike Cahill, the director. I just let it rip, thinking that was way over the top, then walked out to get some coffee and sort of calmed down. I ran into John McNamara and said to him, “John, was I too hot in my last take?” He didn’t say anything, he just looked at me and started smiling. So I knew they liked it.

One of my personal favorites is you and Julia in the previous time loop. How do you approach playing different timelines at once?
Rick:
Great question. I absolutely love that scene, because you see the two different versions of the Dean and Julia. To see them juxtaposed next to each other was, I thought, really clever. You see an earlier version of the Dean where he seems more happy-go-lucky, more excited. I even think he seems a bit younger. He’s excited about this young Knowledge student who studies the same discipline he does. In that earlier scene, you see they have a connection. They’re the same. And then when we go to the next moment, and she’s in the dungeon. [Laughs] The first time I saw the two versions, I could clearly see the physical difference. The Dean we all know and love, he’s moody and kind of bent over because the weight of the world is on him. I tried to just forget about the Beast and play it as if that had never happened. I thought Stella was great in that, too.

What can fans look forward to when it comes to the season finale?
Rick:
Before they get to Fillory, the Dean is their father figure. After they go to Fillory, the father becomes the son. Now, I think, the father is restored. They will need him again in ways that they didn’t foresee.