Tomorrow Syfy airs the season two finale of its popular series, The Magicians
. While everything has been going down in Fillory, there are still those left behind at Brakebills, one being Dean Henry Fogg, played by Rick Worthy.
The dean has done what he can for his students when he needs to, such as helping Eliot (Hale Appleman) a bit with ruling Fillory earlier in the season, and recently telling Quentin (Jason Ralph) and Julia (Stella Maeve) how he talked to an alternate version of Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) about Shades, but he also knows they can handle themselves and often leaves them to it.
Recently Worthy talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about Fogg's motivations, his relationship with Bigby (Amanda Brooks), alternate timelines, and more. Can you start by taking about how you first became involved with the series?
I was on a TV series, maybe 14 years ago, and it was called Eyes
. It was about private eyes and was on ABC. The creator of the series and our exec producer/showrunner was a man named John McNamara. It starred Tim Daly, Garcelle Beauvais, myself, and about four or five other actors from New York and Los Angeles. Long story short, we did one season on ABC, and then they cancelled us.
But one of our terrific young staff writers was a young lady named Sera Gamble. Flash forward, and Sera Gamble was the showrunner for Supernatural
, and maybe seven or eight years ago, she created a character named the Alpha Vampire. I came in to read for the role, and I didn't think I got it, but I did. I was hired, and I was reunited with Sera Gamble.
Then, flash forward a few years later, to about December 2014, and my agent called and said, "There's a really great pilot called The Magicians
, and it's based on these books that were a New York Times
best seller." I had heard of the books, I just hadn't read them.
And she said, "It's Sera Gamble's project, and she's teaming up with John McNamara, and they want to know if you want to play a teacher on the show," and I said, "Yes, of course. They're my old friends; I'd love to." She said, "It will be a great role, but you're going to die in the pilot." I said, "No problem." [laughs]
So I flew to New Orleans, Louisiana in December to play the dean of Brakebills University named Fogg, and I thought it was just an amazing character and an amazing role, and I loved it right away. I didn't have any time to read the books, because I think I was the last one hired, but we did the pilot, and a few months later, low and behold, we got picked up.
And even though the Beast (Charles Mesure) attacked the dean at the end, and he looked like he was gone - he pretty much is dead at the end of the pilot - John and Sera said, "Look, we really like what you're doing as the dean, and maybe we'll find some kind of way to keep him alive."
So that's what happened. And I just feel like one of the luckiest guys in the world. Have you read the books since then?
Yes. I had a break. I was also working on another show called The Man in the High Castle
on Amazon Prime, which coincidentally shoots in Vancouver. So I had a bit of a break between the two series, and I went through all the books, and I think that Lev [Grossman] is one of the best writers out there. He's a fabulous writer; I love the books.
We do a different take on the books, and Lev likes to come up to Vancouver to watch filming, and I always ask him, "Do you like what we're doing?" [laughs]
He says, "Yeah, I like it; I like it."
You know, Dean Fogg in the books looks different than me; he is very different. I tried to capture maybe a little bit of him in my own version of Dean Fogg. But I love the books, and I think he wrote something really special. Then I guess at least at the beginning, you hadn't read the books to have all of that source material, but other than the script and what you did find out about the books, was there anywhere else you did take inspiration from when building the character?
You know, I just knew that I wanted him to be this father figure and to be mysterious. I've always sort of wanted to play him as a guy who's got a million secrets. I think that's more interesting, and I think the closer to the chest you play the character, the better. Like he doesn't say a lot, but when he does say something, it's very important.
And I often get asked questions like: "Does he care about the students?" "Does he not care about them?" "Is he a nice guy?" And I always say, "That's up to you to decide." He truly is a mysterious person, and I want people to always think of him that way.
Every now and then though, you see little gems that come out, like for example, his past romance with the pixie named Bigby. In the book, Bigby's a man, but they decided to make Bigby a woman, and not only is she a woman, but she loves sex, she's five hundred years old, and she's a powerful magician, and that's really cool. Like he has, really, a girlfriend, and that surprises Quentin and Julia. They're like, "Whoa!" [laughs]
So he does have other things happening in his life, and this competition that he has with this guy Bob Locke, I thought that was really funny. So I try to play him with a lot of secrets, and I had not modeled him after anyone from movies or TV.
I know especially when I put those sunglasses on, every now and then people will say, "Well, he's kind of like Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), from The Matrix
." But I'm like, "Well, I'm tall and I have a shaved head and I'm wearing sunglasses, but he's not Morpheus. They're probably similar, but they're not the same guy." Going back to the secrets you mentioned, that's one of the things I wanted to ask you. A lot of things he kind of stays out of and lets the students do what they want to do, but do you think he knows more about what's going on than he's letting on? Because I've always gotten the impression that sometimes, I mean not when it's been dire circumstances, but that sometimes he could maybe help the students a little bit, but he lets them figure it out on their own.
I think you really hit it on the nail. There're certainly some things that you almost want to reach through the TV and say, "Come on Henry, just give them a break," you know? [laughs]
I think it's like every mentor has for every protégé and every student: they can see that if they just step back, their student will find a way and make the right decision. And that's how I've played him a lot, like I'm going to step back and I'm going to let them walk down this road; Quentin, or Julia, or Alice, or whoever it may be. Penny (Arjun Gupta), Eliot. And let's hope that they make the right choice or make the right decision. That's part of growing up.
But there have been other times he has stepped in, and I think he very much is very adamant in turn and says, "This is what you need to do." And I think a really good example is the episode where Eliot is split in two. He comes to Fogg and says, "I don't know what to do," [laughs]
and he just really upsets the dean, you know? He's just shy of screaming at him.
And I decide I'm just going to hold it in and just deliver the line, and I say, "That's stupid. You can't be split in two. That will kill you," or something like that. And it was so direct and to the point, it's like I'm looking you right in your f---ing eyeballs and saying, "This is a very bad decision."
Eliot, he's one of the most popular characters on the show; he's a fun guy. [laughs]
I love him; I love how Hale is playing him. He's fun and he makes mistakes; he knows he's a f---up and he's trying to do it right. He loves Fillory and all those things that go with it, like the power, but he can't be two people.
If they had written it in the way that the dean said, "That's up to you to decide," I think that would have been a bad choice. We've heard Fogg talk about how they've gone through thirty nine different time loops, and he mentioned talking to a different Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), and we saw him with a different Julia, but it's been more about their other versions. So I'm curious, what other versions of Fogg do you think there are? What was he doing, or what would you like to see, if it were up to you?
Well, I've actually thought about that a lot. It’s like if you were to make thirty nine different movies of each timeline, what would each one look like? I think that's probably a webisode in the making right there. It's so rich, and I think the idea of the different timelines is so fascinating to people.
I've had people come up to me and say, "We really loved when Julia was admitted [to Brakebills]." [laughs]
She was admitted, and then the next scene is the one that we all know, where she wasn't admitted. So it's really cool that we got to see the two different versions of not only Dean Fogg, but also Julia, and they're very different characters. That, I thought, was really, really cool.
I'd love to see different versions of what Penny was like, and Quentin, Eliot, Alice, what they were all like. Probably along with that are all the different ways that the Beast destroyed us. [laughs]
Like the one we saw in the pilot, he comes in skipping and singing, [laughs]
and that's creepy as hell. But maybe in a different version, he did it a different way, or maybe instead of a gray suit he wore a blue suit. Who knows? But that is fascinating, and I think the idea of time loops makes you really think about it. What different choices did people make?
I mean, when you see the dean when Julia is admitted, he seems much younger; he seems less stressed. He's still has a lot to worry about, but then when you see him in the next version, he seems like literally the weight of the world is on him. I even noticed I had slumped over and changed my whole physicality. That was the first time for me seeing the two different versions of Dean Fogg, and I was like, "Whoa, they really are two different people."
So a lot has happened, as I said, with the attack from the Beast, and then trying to regain it all back, trying to figure out a solution to this whole thing. Do you have a favorite part or scene from this season?
I loved a lot of this season. I think season two is better than season one, and I thought season one was really good. But I think for season two, the level of intensity and the stakes are just so much higher.
Selfishly I love episode two, only because I love the Bigby/Dean Fogg thing. [laughs]
It's really cool.
...Secretly I would also love for the dean to be in Fillory at some point. And I have been asked that by different journalists: "Will Dean Fogg be in Fillory?" I'm like, "I can only hope."
I love the whole thing with Eliot and King Idri (Leonard Roberts), the whole romance and that they have to fight each other, and they have this civil war happening in Fillory, and then they end up deciding, 'Well, let's get married.' [laughs]
That relationship - like it's so amazing what's possible with the series. And I enjoy watching it, because I think it's really well done. It's funny; it's painful; it's dramatic: all the things I think a good TV series should have. And I humbly say this: "I think we're doing something right; I just hope that we can continue doing it." Lastly can you describe Fogg in three words?
Magic. Is Real.**UPDATE: Be sure to check out what Appleman had to say about the finale in the new interview with four members of the cast.**