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Felicia Day Previews Her ‘Magicians’ Character’s Motivations

The Brakebills group is getting some unexpected help on their quest to restore magic to Earth and Fillory.

While sailing to sea on the Muntjac in search of the fourth of seven keys that will bring back magic, Quentin (Jason Ralph) happens upon Poppy, played by Felicia Day, a Brakebills Draconology grad student who’s been stranded in Fillory for months.

“Poppy has the key Quentin’s looking for, which solves his problem, but that brings other problems,” Day tells Variety about her new character on Syfy’s “The Magicians.” “Poppy’s motivations in the episode are not completely altruistic.”

Ahead of her debut on “The Magicians,” Day spoke with Variety about bringing Poppy to life, her run-in with Quentin, and whether she’ll meet Josh (Trevor Einhorn).

How familiar were you “The Magicians” books, or Poppy, before getting cast?

I had actually read the books many years ago when they first came out. The author, Lev Grossman, actually interviewed me for my first big interview in Time Magazine many years ago about “The Guild.” We kept in touch over the years and he sent me “The Magicians” when it first came out, but it has been many years since I’ve read the books.

You’re no stranger to joining, or creating, shows with passionate fan bases. Were you nervous to bring Poppy to life?

I wasn’t nervous at all because I met with the producers, and Sera [Gamble] and John [McNamara] are wonderful artists. I had worked with Sera on “Supernatural” while she was showrunning. They described the character to me, and I knew their voice would match something that I could do and fit in their world really well. When I got the pages I was bowled over, because not only did I know exactly how to play her but it was a lot of different things that I haven’t done before.

What is it about Poppy that appeals to you?

I love that she’s so commanding. She drives any scene that she’s in. She has a lot of layers – she’s not exactly what you’d expect on the surface. She’s a little twisted underneath, and that’s what the show does really well. It takes the genre world and adds like a seven layer bean dip to every character.

“The Magicians” often changes things from the books to the screen. Did you notice any of those differences with Poppy?

In my recollection of Poppy from the books, I think she has a similar surface quality. She’s very optimistic, very knowledgeable, kind of a know-it-all – but the layers the show gives her are a little more twisted. There’s more darkness and maybe a little more narcissism and untrustworthiness.

What is the dynamic like between Poppy and Quentin when they first meet?

Poppy throws him off a lot. She’s very straightforward, she’s very experienced. She’s a grad student. I love the fact that she throws him off in a way that let some layers emerge in Quentin that you don’t normally see when he’s with other characters on the show. That’s what I love about Poppy – she brings a different color but fits really well into the world.

What is Poppy bringing to the rest of the group as she joins them to hunt down the remainder of the Seven Keys?

Definitely her breadth of knowledge. She’s a traveler and knows a lot about a lot different things. And she’s an expert in dragons! That might become useful as the episodes go on.

In the books, Poppy ends up marrying Josh. Is there anything you can tease about them meeting in the show?

I can only say that the books have their trajectory, and Sera and John throw a lot of curveballs based on the source material. The architecture is there, but they don’t follow the path of the books completely.

“The Magicians” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Syfy.

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