THE MAGICIANS’ Hale Appleman talks about his character and Brakebills

Hale Appleman, who plays the delightfully suave Eliot Waugh on SyFy’s The Magicians, opens up about his character and the series itself

SyFy’s hit fantasy-drama series The Magicians has definitely gone beyond my expectations, and I can say that I’m gratefully pleased for it.  Considering it has such a talented group of young actors, it should be no surprise, only that most of them are fairly new or not-well-known.  That does not, however, make them any less talented. And one of those talented actors is Hale Appleman, who plays the tall, talented, chain-smoking Physical-disciplined student Eliot Waugh, in the series.

The folks at got a chance to speak with Appleman about his character, his passion for the series, and his character’s relationship with Quentin Coldwater, the protagonist from which we see most of the show by.

Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh on The Magicians
Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh on The Magicians

On The Magicians being renewed for second season:

“It feels amazing,” says Hale Appleman, the actor who plays Eliot Waugh on the show, in an interview with “On one hand, I absolutely can’t believe it, and on the other, it makes sense. I think that the books are incredible and I think that these characters and these stories have so much to offer and so much to say, so it only makes sense that we would continue.

“Mostly, I’m just really grateful and really overwhelmed,” Appleman continues, explaining how deep the passion for the series goes. “From our crew, to our producers, to our writers and our showrunners, our transport guys. The guys bringing us to and from set, sometimes they read the scripts on the episodes and they’re all the sweetest, most wonderful people. Our guy, Monte, who drives us to sets, I remember one day, he was like, ‘Oh, wow. Episode Eight, eh? That’s a pretty big one for you, huh?’ They read the scripts. Everyone is invested on this show. It’s really unusual and really such a blessing.”


The Magicians' Summer Bishil (Margo), Hale Appleman (Eliot), and Jason Ralph (Quentin)
The Magicians’ Summer Bishil (Margo), Hale Appleman (Eliot), and Jason Ralph (Quentin)

On Eliot:

“I was initially auditioning for Penny,” Appleman says, “but that didn’t feel right, and in reading the books I found Eliot and I thought, ‘Oh, man. I really I hope I can audition for this guy,’ because he’s just so exciting and complex and juicy and layered and dynamic. I just thought I’d love to be able to take a stab at this character and, luckily, a few weeks later, they called me back for him.

“Eliot is someone who is constructing an image of himself,” Appleman explains when asked to describe the character in his own words. “He’s very consciously collaging together influences that appear attractive to him, or sophisticated to him, or put together, or stylish, or enigmatic. He is putting together all of these pieces into a sort of image that he’d like to project to everyone he meets, which is all kind of a mask and all a construct and all in an effort to not necessarily look at what he’s really feeling on the inside. He is masking a lot of pain and vulnerability and shame.

“He has come from a place that rejected him and he has reimagined his identity at Brakebills, which is kind of what you see when you meet him. It’s all very intentional. He is someone who loves the party and the laughs and all of the vices that he can find in order not to look at what is really haunting him.”

Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh, with Jason Ralph's Quentin Coldwater in The Magicians
Hale Appleman as Eliot Waugh, with Jason Ralph’s Quentin Coldwater in The Magicians


On Eliot’s relationship with Quentin:

“I think, weirdly enough, Eliot sees a lot of himself in Quentin and it seems that if you were to kind of pry Eliot open and look inside, he would look a lot more like Quentin,” Appleman says. “There’s kind of like an anxious, unsettled, vulnerable, broken little boy in Eliot. Eliot might even be more vulnerable than Quentin, weirdly enough. I think that what Eliot sees when Quentin comes through the bushes in that first episode is someone who he understands, weirdly, and someone who he sees a lot of himself in. There is a similarity between them that Eliot would never admit to or want to discuss ever, but it exists and there’s an understanding between these two characters, and so there’s an innate connection there.”

One of the themes The Magicians explores is our relationships with fiction and fantasy, and it’s done largely through Quentin’s affection for the Fillory novels. This is a feeling that Appleman himself can relate to.

magicians_portrait_eliot“I was a really adventurous, imaginative kid, and I grew up loving fantasy,” Appleman says. “I loved C.S. Lewis, and I loved Tolkien, and I loved Madeline L’Engle, and I loved The Princess Bride and all kinds of swashbuckling adventures. The Knights of the Round Table, all of it, Greek mythology, I loved all of it.

“I’ve always wanted, as an actor, to exist in worlds that could be comparable that I read about as a boy. I think that that always has been a huge dream of mine and to get to play in these worlds that Lev Grossman has created is a complete dream come true, and I am so overwhelmed at the fact that I get to do that. It just seems ridiculous, but I’m really happy about it.”

Read the complete article at, which includes what Appleman’s Eliot would say if he met adult Harry Potter.


By Molly

Molly is a proud Canadian who is currently attending university in Scotland. She loves to read, write, watch films, and talk about Sarah J. Maas books. If not snuggled up with a book, Molly can usually be found tapping at the dance studio, or writing yet another essay.

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