'The Magicians' star Arjun Gupta shares his thoughts
Streaming / 18 April 2019, 1:00pm / Jamal Grootboom
"The Magicians" season finale is airs this week and things are heating up with our favourite magicians as Quentin(Jason Ralph) and Alice(Olivia Taylor Dudley) face off against the monster and his sister who’s taken over Julia’s(Stella Maeve) body.
The popular Syfy series has been one of the most prolific shows when it comes to giving a realistic look at what a world would be like if magic existed without losing the fantastical element.
We spoke to Arjun Gupta, who plays Penny, about his experience playing the character, why representation matters in TV and the future of Penny.
"The Magicians" came as a surprise to both fans of the books it’s based on and general fans of supernatural shows. With the magic of Fillory, Brakebills University and the six protagonists captivating audiences.
Speaking on the success of the show Gupta says it’s been an amazing opportunity and that the global reach the show has had is fantastic. Stating that the appeal for the show is due to its universal appeal and sending a message without being preachy. And similarly to his castmate Summer Bishil, who plays Margo, stated that the showrunners have blended aspects of the books beautifully with the show.
He also feels that the show takes real-life issues such as mental illness and abuse, and feels the reason show resonates so much is due to it speaking to outsiders. Highlighting that show depicts outsiders in a way where they can be heroes too.
The show has been going strong for four seasons and has already been renewed for its fifth season. Speaking on what it been like to play Penny, Gupta says "It’s been a gift" and that he’s been fortunate from the beginning.
When it comes to how he’s portrayed Penny, Gupta revealed he spoke to the writers and wanted the character to have one shade of purple at the beginning. And has the show has progressed he brought more shades to the character. Taking Penny from an unlikeable person to one of the fans favourite characters.
We currently live in an age where representation in media is at an all-time high from race to the LGBTQI+ community. "The Magicians" is one of the shows to have characters that don’t solely consist of the same straight male protagonists we’ve become used to in the fantasy genre.
Talking about representation, Gupta says that they are just showing the world we live in. And within their world, they didn’t want to racialise magic. Stating that visual imagery with media matters and by not having and an inclusive cast you reinforce a hierarchy of types of people in society.
Currently, on the show, Gupta is also playing two versions of the character, Penny 40 and Penny 23. Talking about what it’s been like playing the same characters from different timelines he says "It's a challenge" but it's enabled him to grow as an actor and master his craft.
During it's run so far, the show has had some interesting romances. From Quentin and Eliot(Hale Appleman) to Penny and Kady(Jade Tailor). Gupta’s favourite pairing so far has been Margo and Josh. Saying that the odd couple showed that there are many sides to a person. And through their relationship, it has humanised Margo.
Speaking on the future of Penny, Gupta hopes that he gets more opportunities where both the Pennys interact with one another. And he feels that at this stage Penny 23 stills doesn’t understand where fits into the main timeline. Furthermore, he would like to see where Penny 40 new role in the underworld takes him.
"The Magicians" is on express at Showmax with new episodes available on a Friday.