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SYFY WIRE The Magicians

The Magicians: Olivia Taylor Dudley on Alice's transformation through the seasons

By Heather Mason
THE MAGICIANS -- Olivia Taylor Dudley as Alice

Season 3 of The Magicians was a ride, and then fans were thrown for even more of a loop with the memories of almost everyone being wiped. Well, except Alice (Olivia Taylor Dudley), that is.

When we had the chance to go to the set last fall, we spoke with Dudley between takes about Alice's journey over the course of the show and what Alice will learn in Season 4.

Thinking as your character, why does Alice feel so confident that she knows what's better for everyone else?

Olivia Taylor Dudley: I mean, Alice doesn't come from things from an emotional place, right? I do, as Olivia; I'm an emotional person. Thought comes way later down the line. But when I'm Alice, she's just very mathematical in her decision-making. She saw that magic was hurting everybody she loved, killing everybody she loved, and causing trouble throughout the whole world, and pain. Her idea was, well, if we get rid of it, no more pain. It's as simple as that. That was the conclusion she came through.

Season 3, the first half [was] trying to figure out her relationship to magic and how she felt about it. Her conclusion was that it has killed her father, it's killed so many people, it's caused pain to everybody. So let's get rid of it.

I still stand by what she did. I think she had the right intention. But I think it's a lesson in not one person should be making the decision for all. Just 'cause she feels strongly that way doesn't mean that it's the right way. So this season was about her stepping back and being like, "Well, I don't know everything. Maybe I should slow my roll, and I don't know everything." Even though she is, technically on paper, the smartest one in the group and has experience with magic. It doesn't mean she should have the power, should wield the power of taking it away. I don't know.

Yeah, it's interesting. I'm trying really hard this season to take her back to how she was in Season 1. 'Cause she's gone so far away from that version of her. This was always my plan with Alice since I read it. Where I wanted to take her. So hopefully that comes across this season. A much more humbled, quiet, listening kind of person instead of just reacting.

What are you learning new about Alice this season?

This season Alice is learning to listen and have patience. I love Alice. I love every one of her decisions. But she can get wound up and feisty. Especially after being a Niffin, she got real feisty. This season it's a lot of getting the pages and thinking, how can I do this without being reactive? 'Cause Alice needs to just sit back and listen to the world for a while. I don't know if that makes sense, but that's just how I approach this season. So I've just learned to be patient. Keep her mouth shut. Keep my mouth shut.

You mentioned earlier that you've gotten to do a lot of different things with your character. What are, as an actor, the challenges of doing that, and what do you feel like you've grown as an actor doing?

This is the longest I've ever been with a character. I can't imagine not playing Alice, even though she really ... I'm sure everybody feels like this after four years of being a person, you feel like you are that person. I'm getting to take one character and find different facets of them, and different parts of their brain and heart, and how to explore those different places but yet stay the same person, is the greatest acting exercise. It's like an ongoing acting exercise. Especially playing Alice, because I think she has the most changes on our show with the characters. I've been some different version of Alice every season.

So, this season I got to work alone for five episodes, which is a crazy thing to do. For scene after scene be working by myself. I've never done that. So I don't know, I learn a lot from her. She's nothing like me. So whenever I'm her, I get a little more knowledge of how to be that kind of person.

The Magicians Season 4 premieres January 23 on SYFY.