The Magicians' Worthy Dean: Rick Worthy teases the end of Season 2 and reflects on nerdy career

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Jan 8, 2019, 11:00 AM EST (Updated)

Rick Worthy doesn't just say he's a self-proclaimed nerd; he backs it up with an acting resume that's predominantly sci-fi and fantasy. And if you've watched a genre show in the last two decades, you've likely encountered him -- multiple times.

Pick your favorite: A Cylon on Battlestar Galactica; a Klingon, crewman or Xindi-Aroboreal on Star Trek's Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise; mayor of Mystic Falls on The Vampire Diaries; the Alpha Vampire on Supernatural; or, currently, both the leader of the Resistance on The Man in the High Castle and Dean Fogg on The Magicians.

But whether you prefer him on a starship or running a school for magic, Worthy said he's just where he wants to be.

In an interview conducted this week, Rick Worthy shared thoughts on being a "self-proclaimed nerd" who found his home in genre work. He also discusses his mysterious Brakebills dean and teases what's in store for his character who is "falling apart internally" for the remainder of Season 2. We similarly discuss this week's episode that showed a pre-time loop – and much happier -- Fogg and Julia (Stella Maeve).

Finally, after having recently wrapped Season 2 of High Castle and sending off his Alpha Vamp on Supernatural, we delve into some nerdy speculation about with which character Fogg might get along best.

It feels like I've known you for years through your work on Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and on and on …

Rick Worthy: You know that's going back a long way! I have done a couple interviews lately and have been dying to talk about Star Trek. 22 years ago I moved to Los Angeles from Chicago, and my dream was to be a cop on NYPD Blue. I did do an episode of NYPD Blue, and it just wasn't what I thought it was going to be. My next job after that was as a Klingon on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I immediately knew that was the genre for me. It touched my heart to be in the science fiction world. It is the stuff I love to do the most.

I am a huge science fiction/fantasy, self-proclaimed nerd, and I'm very proud to say that. I just turned 50 last week, and when I look back on my career, two-thirds of my resume is science fiction and fantasy.

No disrespect to NYPD Blue, but you don't see a lot of fan conventions dedicated to that show like with Star Trek.

I wasn't aware of how profound and broad the fan base for science fiction is until I started doing conventions. I was in Australia a few years ago and a cute little girl comes up to me and says she loved me from Star Trek: Enterprise. [As Jannar, shown here] I looked like Chewbacca in Enterprise and the kid recognized me and knew my work. That really touched my heart.

Are you noticing that for The Magicians?

I have done a couple conventions since I've started working on The Magicians and people come dressed up in cosplay as Brakebills students. They love the show. There are people who have Magicians parties in their homes and dress up their homes like Brakebills or Fillory. You never know what's going to hit in this industry. Next thing you know, you're on a show that's a hit show. And it's a genre I love, so I consider myself very fortunate.

Dean Fogg exudes coolness, but I don't know that he's very good at his job! Is he? A lot of crap has happened at Brakebills on his watch.

[laughs] I would like to think he's on top of it all. That's certainly the image he wants to portray. In truth, things are falling apart internally. He doesn't have the control he had when we first saw him. The attack from the beast has crippled him -- his sight, but also his confidence. What I'm trying to do is play him as someone who projects "everything is cool" but underneath, he's suffering. Now, his students have gone to a different place, Fillory, that he hasn't seen or experienced. That is also chipping at him a lot. He has an almost impossible task in front of him. How does he help them? At best he can be in an advisory position and guide them along their paths.

Brakebills has a liberal attendance policy since these students don't even go to class. Are they still his students?

They have gone off to a different experience the dean has only heard about. He has not experienced Fillory. But there is a lot of the dean that is yet to be revealed. I know how Season 2 ends, and they will need him again. Trust me. In terms of being the walking epitome of Brakebills, they'll need the dean even though they've seen and done things he hasn't.

What were the dynamics of that scene in this week's episode between pre-time loop Fogg and Julia?

I have been dying to talk about that scene because it shows two timelines. We see one version from the earlier time loop where she's admitted to Brakebills. I was reading the script, and it was what everyone needed to see: What was it like when Julia was admitted? Then we juxtapose that version with now.

This earlier scene with a lovely, bright-eyed, promising young student. And we see another version of the dean, who seems younger. He seems cheerful, more optimistic, sort of happy-go-lucky. He connects with her because they are so much alike, and have the same discipline. In her, he sees himself. Then, we go to the next scene, the timeline we now know, and she's locked in the dungeon. He becomes an older, more serious person. And so did Stella. The scenes are really powerful and make you think about life and maybe the choices you make in your own life. What if I had taken this road instead of that road? I particularly love that episode.

There are references to his adventures we haven't seen (e.g. his dark artistic rivalry with Bob Ross!). Do you want to fill in those stories, or leave them mysteries?

I like the second version, which is a reference, an allusion to something in the past. It is sort of a clue of what makes the man the man. I love playing characters with a lot of secrets people don't know. It gives you a lot to work with: what I'm playing, what I'm saying, what I'm not saying. There is a lot happening with him that people don't know about. I think it's sort of unsettled because they're not exactly sure what he is: if he's good, if he's bad, and what are his intentions? I want to continue to play him that way.

What will the rest of the season hold for Fogg?

His purpose as dean is still in place. By the end of the season, you'll see that very clearly. And all the students, the ones who have been to Fillory and those who haven't, will still need him very much.

And a nerdy mashup question: Of the other characters you recently played – Alpha Vamp and Lem Washington – who would you want Dean Fogg to interact with?

I love these kinds of questions because that's how my nerdy brain works as well. I put these characters in a room, and see who would talk with who, and who would drink with who. I can tell you, for me as Rick, I'd love to sit down and have a beer with Lem. Between those three, I am most like Lem. In terms of where he comes from and who he is as a human.

But I think the Dean and Alpha Vamp would be very similar. They're both very powerful and have similar personality traits and are both very mysterious. They are hard to predict, and know more than anyone else in the room. The Alpha Vamp is as old as human life, and the Dean, albeit not that old, has been around a long time, and seen things literally no one else on Earth has seen – perhaps except other magicians. They could connect more. I would actually love to maybe write something with those two characters sitting down; I wonder what they would say to one another!

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