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Is Julia a Villain on THE MAGICIANS? Stella Maeve and the Cast Discuss

Is Julia a Villain on THE MAGICIANS? Stella Maeve and the Cast Discuss

Warning: this story contains spoilers from season one of The Magicians! 

Syfy’s fantasy hit series The Magicians doesn’t ever sugar coat situations, so we won’t either: Quentin (Jason Ralph), Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and the rest of the Brakebills crew is royally screwed. By the time season one ended, they’d failed in their mission to kill the Beast (Charles Mesure) and pretty much all their lives were hanging in the balance. Alice was bleeding out on the floor, Penny (Arjun Gupta) had both of his hands sliced off, Eliot (Hale Appleman) and Margo (Summer Bishil) were laying on the floor with broken necks, and Quentin was left all alone with the realization that Julia (Stella Maeve) left them all to die. Because when Alice hesitated with the god-killing knife, Julia stepped in and took it from her, holding the Beast at knifepoint and making a deal with him: if he would help her kill Reynard (Mackenzie Astin), the trickster fox demon god who had raped her, she would give the Beast the only weapon that had the power to kill him. He agreed, they vanished, and Quentin was left all alone with no idea what to do next.

While many viewers viewed Julia’s actions as a betrayal of Quentin and his friends, does teaming up with the Beast make her a villain? And what is The Magicians trying to say by making the two sexual assault survivors—Julia and the Beast himself—the two main villains, if so? By the time season two begins, pretty much everyone except for Quentin seems to think that Julia is now against them. But if you ask the cast, that’s not the case.

“I don’t agree with that,” Maeve told Nerdist while filming season two on set in Vancouver. “When Julia teams up with the Beast, I don’t think she’s intentionally doing that to spite everyone else. It’s her way of almost trying to save everyone by putting herself on the line while also utilizing him as a tool.”

If you take a closer look at the events of the final minutes of the season one finale, it’s clear that Julia stepping in when she did prevented the Beast from inflicting any further damage on the group. But in the heat of the moment and from the perspective of “our heroes,” it’s hard to see that.


“I don’t think that in Julia’s mind, [that] it was to spite everyone or to go against them,” Maeve said. “It was genuinely that she wants one thing and this is a distraction so I can save them. It was like killing two birds with one stone. I get asked that a lot though.”

The other cast members feel the same way.

“I get a lot of questions like, ‘How do you feel about Julia betraying the group?'” Ralph said. “And I never really felt that way. As Quentin it feels like, first of all, she’s really the only person in the room that had a handle on the situation literally. Had she not been there, we don’t know what else we could have done but potentially we could have died since Alice was unsure of her powers. There was no way of knowing what Alice would have done, so Julia stepping in didn’t necessarily stop them from winning.”

Dudley can see both sides of the coin, but said she doesn’t blame Julia for doing what she did.

“It’s easy to place blame in a situation like that but everyone was doing what was right for them in the moment,” she said. “We were all left in pretty terrible positions, so everyone’s going to be very protective of themselves. Our walls are up. And you’ll see as time goes on that Julia isn’t just looking out for herself, she’s also making strides to protect her friends from the Beast. She knows who she’s dealing with and she’s not going in blind.”

When you also look at the personal trauma Julia had just suffered as a victim of rape, it’s understandable why she would be fueled by revenge right now.

“She didn’t do any of this with malicious intent,” Maeve said. “I do think the similarities between her and Martin Chatwin [a.k.a. the Beast] are interesting because they both were victims of trauma. We’re about to shoot episode 208 and you’ll get to see something that happens to Julia that the Beast went through that shows how she could go that same, dark route and that underlying question ultimately proves why she’s not the villain.”


She paused, and then continued, “This is really showing her humanity. She is so consumed by her assault and her rape and she’s trying to get back to herself and find a way to validate the things that happened. Right now, revenge is that way.”

When it came time to filming the scene in which Reynard raped her, Maeve recalled that it was an extremely heavy experience on set.

“It was really intense. Any way you go at it, it’s not easy,” Maeve said. “Having read it prior and then having to go through it after, your character doesn’t know it’s happening but you know it’s happening so you have to kind of succumb and allow this situation to happen. For Julia, she’s in a level of such grief and denial that the only way to move past it is just keep moving.”

Maeve “loved” the way it was handled as the writers brought that scene from the page to the screen.

“There are so many people who have been through so many tragedies and so many victims of sexual assault that we wanted to let the world know that we can talk about these things and it’s not something to be ashamed about,” she said. “And actually because of that I got involved with the Stuart House Foundation which is a center for rape victims, and that experience was incredible.”

Fans of Lev Grossman’s books on which the Syfy series is based were surprised to see just how much of Julia’s story from book two was featured in the first season, and how it differed from the character’s journey in the books. Maeve herself was a fan of the books, and while her character was given more to do in the first season than if the writers had followed Grossman’s books exactly, she still struggled with knowing how much the show was changing the character’s arc.

“I love anything from the books so one of my biggest struggles last season was letting go of [what I expected],” Maeve said. “I was right there with the fans. I kept reminding myself that Lev has signed off on this, Lev has given us his blessing, it’s going to be okay. It’s always hard to let go of the source material because you want it to be done in this way that in your mind, that’s the way it’s supposed to go. But it’s amazing to embrace the unknown.”

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And according to Maeve, season two will feature some big departures from the books. But she loved the changes the showrunners made.

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this spoiler but there’s going to be a character that’s otherworldly that comes in and normally these characters are females,” Maeve said. “But when they pitched the idea to Lev it was a man, so that got written into the script. Julia even says to this thing, ‘Aren’t you guys normally females?’ So cool things like that happen where things get shifted and changed and poked fun at, and it’s cool because Lev is on board.”

Because the show is going to be set in the fantastical world of Fillory more in season two, that allows the story to grow in ways that fans may be not be expecting. “You will get to see a lot more of Fillory this season,” Maeve teased. “It’s its own character this season, truly.”

What do you think about where Julia’s story is heading as The Magicians season two premieres? Do you think she’s a villain? What are you most excited to see from season two? Tweet me your thoughts and opinions at @SydneyBucksbaum!

Images: Syfy

The Magicians season two premieres Wednesday, January 25 at 9 p.m. on Syfy.

And for more silly magic, check out Alicia’s tutting lesson with Jason, Stella, and Olivia:

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