The Magicians' Arjun Gupta Talks S2 finale, Penny's Cheat Day, S3 and more!

By Prutha S. Patel (@PSPatel)

The Magicians' Arjun Gupta discusses the season 2 finale, Penny's "Cheat Day," what he's looking forward to for S3 and more!

Watchtivist: What was the most difficult part about playing Penny this season compared to last season?

Arjun Gupta: I don’t want to frame it in that there was anything particularly difficult. I think that in some ways it was easier the second season because I spent a span of two years living in Penny’s kind of body and mind. So, in some ways, it was like putting on an old shoe. It was lovely and freeing in the second season. There were different challenges. I think that in the second season we were getting to see Penny in a more vulnerable and more naked, and not literally naked, but emotionally naked phase. He was more reliant on people, making choices rather than just reluctantly doing what he’s told. And so I think that presented an opportunity and a challenge in showing different sides of this human.

W: Is there maybe a piece of advice that you/Arjun would give to Penny if you could?

AG: You know, not really. I think that at the end of the day everyone’s got to learn through their own experiences. I am not really sure that Penny would listen to anything I have to say. But if he did, if we were close enough I would tell him it’s okay to ask for help.

W: Is there anything you’re allowed to tease to fans for the Season 2 finale episode, be it general or for Penny?

AG: Well I’ll just say that the episode is crazy as f**k. It’s wild and epic. It’s the biggest episode of our series to date. We’ve had a lot of big episodes, but this is by far the biggest episode. There’s death, unlikely heroes, a sword that’s pretty cool. So there’s all sorts of stuff going on in episode 13.

W: What are you most looking forward to for him for Season 3?

AG: I am personally just most looking forward to getting back to work with those amazing people. We have an incredible crew of people we get to work with, we have some really top notch writers who are going to write some epic and crazy stuff over the next year. I am excited for us to hopefully get that crew back to work with them, to be back in Vancouver.

I love playing Penny, he’s a fun person to hang out with for me. He’s very different than me so I have a fun time hanging out with him. I’m just really grateful to work, I am grateful to have a job and to get to do what I love to do. It’s a huge blessing, it’s a huge opportunity. I am hoping we can take the guard rails further off. To just keep playing, take bigger risks, go bigger. That’s what I hope.

W: In the Cheat Day episode we see Quentin (Jason Ralph) go off and kind of have as normal of a day that a magician probably could, what would Penny’s cheat day look like?

AG: Oh wow! You know what’s interesting? I don’t know if there would be one. Wow that’s a really good question. What would Penny’s cheat day look like? Here’s my thoughts on it, Penny doesn’t do that much magic outside of traveling to begin with, you know. In this this question does that mean that he doesn’t have the same people around him, would he be around Katie, would he still be a librarian, would he be free of all that stuff?

W: In that episode Quentin does still have his magic, he’s just not around with the main group. So we can go with Penny still having his magic too.

AG: Let’s go with this, now I’m feeling it, alright. He travels, I think he travels to Fiji, walk on some beach, he’d be having himself some drinks and doing a little dancing and maybe making a little love. That’s what he’d be doing. Then he’s also going to travel to this forest in Russia, there’s this lake forest in Russia that nobody really knows where it is, he’d probably like dip in over there. He doesn’t really like people, he just travels.   

W: Fiji, of course! That’s awesome. What’s maybe one or two things/events over the course of the first two seasons that have really been intriguing for you to have seen unfold? This one can be for any of the characters really.

AG: It’s definitely watching Margo (Summer Bishil) grow as a character. I think that’s been one of my favorite things to witness. Summer is a fantastic actress and I am so proud of the work that she’s gotten to do this season. I think the other thing might be the musical things because that’s not something that I thought would work. Some people love them, some people hate them, which is good. I am from the school of thought that if it has some sort of impact, then that’s what we want. Those are probably the two things.

W: You work very closely with essentially all of the cast, is there someone in particular you hope to share more scenes with in the future? Why?

AG: I’d always love to have more, I am fortunate I get to already because of my traveling ability. I get scenes with everybody. even had a scene with the Dean (Rick Worthy) this year, but I’d love having scenes with Elliot (Hale Appleman) and Margo. It would be so fun to get to do more stuff with them. That would be a blast for me. But anyone who gets to put up with me will be fun times. I actually had a really good time with Roan (Curtis) who plays Sylvia, the young librarian who’s my supervisor. I had a fun time with her. We’ll see if that’s possible after what happens. But hopefully there’s always fun stuff to be found.

W: Despite the fact that there are all of these insanely terrifying repercussions to the magic that they practice, is there a magical ability or discipline you’d love to have in real life?

AG: I mean for me, as Arjun, I would love to have the power to heal. I think there’s a lot of darkness right now. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of fear just manifesting a lot of physical and emotional elements, and I think we as a people need healing more than ever. If I could, if I had the power to bring that I would love to. 

W: Wow, that was great. Quickly away from magic for a bit, is there a genre of work you’d love to tackle next? Do you have a specific role or character type in mind?

AG: You know what? History! I would love to go and do something period. I’ve actually been reading about Amazon and about the work they are trying to do in India. And there’s actually they’re doing a series about the INA. Anything historical is really interesting to me. Tackling that sort of realm would be interesting, but for me, it’s always about stories. If it’s a good story, I don’t care what kind of genre it is, I want to tell it. 

W: We’ve seen many Bollywood actors come to Hollywood, the latest being people like Irrfan Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone etc. That got me curious about whether you could see yourself in a Bollywood movie?

AG: Well, it’s funny you say that because I wrapped up a film over there in January. I was shooting an indie there. Naseeruddin Shah played my father, Tisca Chopra played my fiancée, and it was an adaption of Shakespeare’s Tidas Andronicus. So yes, is the short answer to that question. I am a very proud and honored to have been able to be a part of that, to work in India with an amazing up and coming talented artists, at the same time legends like Naseeruddin and to work in my homeland was I mean just a gift beyond gifts. And something I’d love to do more of.

W: Many actors express interest in getting behind the camera as well, do you have any interest in directing maybe an episode of The Magicians/anything for that matter? What kind of project?

AG: Yeah, that scares the shit out of me. But it’s something that I’d like to do at some point. I also produce things, I have produced a web series and a lot of theater with my theater company. So that’s something behind the scenes I’d like to develop more as well. But that’s something I am going to keep let happening organically, and let unfold. We’ll see what happens. 

W: That totally makes sense. And lastly, anything else you’d like to say to those reading?

AG: I just want to say thank you to everybody that watches. There are 400 something TV shows out there right now and everybody is working their asses off these days, sometimes 7 different jobs. For anyone to give us an hour of their time, is a precious thing and it’s not something we take lightly. It’s an honor, and I just want to say thank you. Thank you for watching and thank you for supporting.

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