I always liked the character Victoria, played by Hannah Levien, since she was introduced in season 1. I was hoping that she would be part of the story arc in season 2 but alas, she was offscreen somewhere living her life.
This season, Victoria finally makes an appearance in “Poached Eggs” and one of my fave episodes of the season, “Six Short Stories about Magic.” The gang uses her to make a mirror bridge between earth and the underworld library. By the end of the episode, one of the villainous librarians’ smashes one of the mirrors, trapping and potentially killing Victoria and Harriet (Marlee Matlin) with the shattered glass. My reaction when that happened:
Some might say that I am in denial, but I don’t care. There’s still hope that somehow Victoria and Harriet survived and are laying low somewhere. For now though, I will catch Levien on the new show Siren on Freeform, which I really enjoy so far. I had the opportunity to talk with Levien about both The Magicians, Siren, and her own movie which will be making the rounds at film festivals. The conversation flowed very well so it was nice chatting with her! She likes talking with fans so follow her on twitter @hannahlevien and FB/Instagram @hannahlevienofficial.
Part 1 of our conversation is below. A link to Part 2 will be at the bottom of the article!
TNE: Well, nice to be talking to you this morning!
Hannah Levien: Yes, yes!
TNE: Or this morning where you are; afternoon where I am. I liked Victoria the first season of The Magicians, and, so, I was happy to see her again, but now I’m like, “Is she gone?”
Hannah Levien: I know. It’s like everyone’s asking. I mean I can’t really say. . . . But I don’t think it’s the last we’ll see of her, but I can’t say anything for sure. Is that fair enough?
TNE: Yeah. That’s very fair. That’s very fair.
Hannah Levien: But they certainly did like – I mean they obviously left us hanging, and –
TNE: They did leave us hanging, and I thoroughly enjoyed the episode! And I was happy but sad in a way because Victoria was pretty much giving her life –
Hannah Levien: [Exclaims] Right!
TNE: For them to travel. So, my first question would be – you were on the show for the first season. Did you continue or try [to] watch the show just in case you were brought back?
Hannah Levien: No, I didn’t. I – well, I wondered if I might have been brought back in season two just because, obviously, it was left with Josh and I leaving. And I knew that Josh – the character Josh – I mean he’s a big part of the book. So, I thought – I was pretty sure they would be bringing Josh back, and I’m like, “Well, Josh and Victoria are like kind of a duo.” But then it didn’t happen and Josh didn’t really come back for season two either, so. . . .
Yeah, I just kind of let that go and sort of went “Well, who knows what’s gonna happen?” And I was focused on other projects and things that were happening and, yeah, I just kind of forgot about it. But . . . . [I] was always invested in the show in the sense that I spent a lot of time with [the cast] in season one, and you become invested in something that you’re a part of, especially in the early beginnings. I was definitely very excited for the cast that it was doing so well. And when I was told that they were bringing me into season three, I was pretty excited! [Laughs]
TNE: Yeah, because you mostly worked with Arjun [Gupta] actually. You shared a lot of scenes with Penny but not so much the other characters. So, what was it like working with the other characters that you kind of heard in the peripheral, but now you actually got a chance to work with them?
Hannah Levien: It was sooo awesome! It was really great to work with Arjun again. We had that little brief scene in episode seven, and that was great. But it was really awesome to get to come back in and then work with guest stars Marlee Matlin and Felicia Day. That was so fantastic!
Hannah Levien: I couldn’t have asked for more amazing co-stars, really. But, then, obviously working with Jason Ralph and Jade Tailor particularly – I’m just trying to think – they were really the main ones I worked with – yeah. It’s just like everyone mentions me in the show, and I’m like, “Wait, did I meet that character?” No, I didn’t. But I mean I have met Olivia [Taylor Dudley] before, and it was certainly wonderful to be on set. I definitely haven’t been involved in the fairy story at all or met – I don’t think – I think I’ve met Hale [Appleman] in passing. I don’t think I’ve ever met Summer [Bishil]. So, I certainly hope that changes, but –
TNE: Yeah, I know. It’s one of those things where you’re like, “But I wanna work with other people, too.”
Hannah Levien: Yeah, yeah. And Julia [Stella Maeve] as well, like I say. But it’s just that the show now – it’s so – there’s so many separate stories happening, and I think we really saw that in “Six Short Stories About Magic.” There are certainly parallels that really aren’t crossing over much right now. So, that’s – yeah, that’s just kind of part of the nature of where the story’s at. But certainly getting to come back and work with those guys was awesome.
And Jade – we got quite a bit of time to chat on set and she’s just such a – she’s just – we have a couple of mutual friends and she’s just an awesome chick and she’s done so well in the show. I loved watching her work. I remember being behind the monitor when one of her scenes – or her close-ups or something – was happening, and I was like, “Damn, girl. You’re killing it. You did such a good job!”
And then Jason is just such a lovely down-to-earth guy, and he’s so funny and really makes everyone feel at ease. And he doesn’t kind of take things too seriously, but he is also invested, and he – yeah, just a really lovely energy. He’s such a great Quentin, so, yeah, definitely. It was certainly like – it’s one thing to be brought back on the show, and it’s another – like I just came in guns blazing. [Laughs]
TNE: Yeah, exactly.
Hannah Levien: Yeah, with [writer] Elle Lipson’s script I was like, “Oh, my God. It’s not even a gentle beginning,” it’s like, “Here I am.”
TNE: Yeah, and the dramatics of last week’s episode was definitely – the last scene was like, “What?! What’s happening now?”
Hannah Levien: Yeah, yeah. It was pretty crazy, and we shot that – it was an extremely long day and night of shooting and – yeah, it was really challenging for everybody because it’s just all the effects – there was just so much to consider with everything. It was a very difficult set, and there were a lot of reflections in the water and the mirrors, and the effect of people coming in and out of the mirrors was really challenging.
They did an incredible job, I have to say – Elie, the DP, and his team – and we were sort of stuck out on that mirror bridge kind of away from everybody, so, it was sort of like – people running over and giving direction and then running back. And Marlee, plus, had her signer there communicating as well. And it was just one of those – a real problem-solving part of the episode. How we were gonna do the mirror bridge, how it was gonna work, how to break it all into the different pieces, and, yeah.
TNE: Now, was the mirror bridge – there was a lot of black, too. So, was that green screen or was that like just a set that was just all – mostly in black?
Hannah Levien: Well, it’s a good question. They may have done some things to – I’m sure they probably did stuff in post-production where they were maybe color-grading the background to an extent. But essentially, we were shooting in this big warehouse and we were shooting in a certain part of it for some other scenes, and then they were like, “Oh, by the way, come check out the mirror bridge.” And there was literally like someone pulled this big black kind of curtain, and we walked through to the other side, and there’s this set that’s just been built and it’s basically like a swimming pool all surrounded in black with this mirror bridge across the top.
TNE: Oh, wow!
Hannah Levien: Yeah, it was pretty amazing. It was like an art installation, really. And, so, they did have like a big black kind of curtain kind of around it that – so it appeared black. There’s actually a good behind-the-scenes video on Twitter that The Magicians account shared the other night where I saw behind the scenes. And they kind of explain the concept with the bridge on that. So, maybe I’ll find you on Twitter and send that to you as well. But because, yeah, it does kind of help explain it, but, yeah, so, it wasn’t – so, it was black and it was pretty spooky-looking and all that kind of stuff.
Some people use mirror bridges to travel to different dimensions.Others use them to perfect their supermodel walks 😂
Posted by The Magicians on Friday, March 2, 2018
TNE: Yeah. I did actually happen to see one where Jason was walking like a catwalk – did you get a chance to actually – did everyone get a chance to really walk a catwalk? Or was that just Jason? Were they just fooling around?
Hannah Levien: . . .No, they were just fooling around. We were all mucking around on there for a while. There was – the first time we went out there it just was this ridiculous 15-minute photo shoot of us just posing. It was like we’re in Eurovision or something ridiculous. And then by the end, everyone was just like, “Oh, my God, get me off the bridge.” Ten hours later or however long. Yeah, and – but I certainly – and it looks incredible, too, on the show. I thought it looked very cool. So, they did a great job.
TNE: Now, you’ve also written and directed a couple of shorts and actually you’re doing a movie right now as well that you’ve written and you’re producing. . . . Can you tell us a little about that?
Hannah Levien: So, I did my undergrad in acting. I went to one of the big drama schools in Australia, and I was working in a lot of theatre in Australia doing a bit of film. And then I’m really passionate about filmmaking as well. So, I did my Master’s in filmmaking when I was quite young. I was very ambitious, I guess. Now that I look back, I’m like, “Jesus.”
TNE: But you got the education. That’s the important thing.
Hannah Levien: Oh, totally. I’m so glad I did it. And then I ended up [going] to the U.S. for acting after that, and I – it’s been a few years now, and I’ve just kind of been so focused on that, and I’ve been traveling back and forth from Canada now to the U.S. as well. And it finally got to a point that I was like, “If I don’t start making the films I wanna make, I’m never gonna start.” You’ve gotta start somewhere, right?
I had this film that I’ve written about a unicorn, and I – kind of like a dark fantasy film with a unicorn and it’s set at a gas station. I know I’m – it sounds bizarre. But, anyway, I actually got – I was sort of talking to some people about it because, obviously, I’ve got friends in the industry and I had written the script. And actually it got into the hands of Shannon Kohli who’s a director who directed on season three of The Magicians as well.
TNE: Oh, okay!
Hannah Levien: And Shannon was like, “I really love –” She loves working with horses, too. And, so, she’s immediately like, “Oh, unicorn!” And we started working together on it and then we actually filmed it last year, and Elie Smolkin – the DP from The Magicians – actually shot it for us.
TNE: Oh, okay. So, it’s nice you had that connection there!
Hannah Levien: Yeah, absolutely, because I worked with Elie in season one as well, and Shannon knew him very well through sort of having a camera background herself. So, yeah, it was really amazing the great people we got on board, and right now that’s just finishing – we just finished the edit, so it’s now going through post-production with some visual effects and color-grading – all that kind of stuff.
But it’s been really, really exciting! [I]t’s totally a labor of love and working with such amazing industry professionals is awesome. It’s also really challenging because everyone’s working on so many different things. To try to find time to get everyone in the same place is becoming more and more challenging. But really amazing to have your own ideas and actually be able to realize them and have the support of some really fantastic people. So, it’s exciting!
TNE: Yeah. Is that the Hunting Season?
Hannah Levien: Mm-hmm.
TNE: Okay, okay.
Hannah Levien: [I]’m excited for it to all be finished and I’m in New York next week doing some work on that as well, so –
TNE: You’ll be on the East Coast. Yay!
Hannah Levien: I will, yeah, I’m a bit – I actually love – I mean I love traveling. But I love the East Coast. I love the – like I love the West Coast – I love it all – but the East Coast has got a different energy and a vibe. And I like seeing the difference between the two places, you know?
TNE: Yes. I do feel a different energy both in the Midwest, the West, and even in the East Coast. So, you definitely – there’s a different feel for it, that’s for sure.
Hannah Levien: Totally.
TNE: Now, Victoria, of course, was rescued by Penny back in season one, and we didn’t really know too much of where she’s been before she came back. So, where do you think [Victoria] may have gone after getting rescued? What was the first place she may have gone to do you think?
Hannah Levien: Well, I think Victoria would have gone somewhere first to –
TNE: Decompress, yeah.
Hannah Levien: Yeah, to really get over the shock of what happened. And I think her and Josh probably would have done that together for a while. And then I think Victoria – she’s obviously a bit extreme – so, I think it would have got to a point where once she’d maybe had a break from magic, maybe had a break from danger, and tried to have a normal life for herself, that she probably would have just got the itch again to travel, to push some boundaries, and maybe even in a sense – I don’t know – about getting revenge.
But definitely, I think the fact that what Harriet’s trying to do with the library and making magic more accessible to magicians and taking the control away so much from who can have control over what parts of magic. I think Victoria sort of getting behind a cause like that is totally in her nature. Like she – something extreme, something to fight for.
Yeah, what I love about Victoria, too, though, is I think she’s very – even though she’s extreme – I think she’s very level-headed. . . . I just like that about her. I’m not as direct as Victoria (Laughs), and I liked playing someone that it’s like, “It’s black and white. It’s like this, or it’s like that. I’m in – it’s like this or I’m out.”
And, so, [t]o get to where she got in season three, I think it’s probably been a process of, yeah, rebuilding your confidence, meeting some other magicians who are out there doing different – stuff that’s a bit more progressive – and I think caring more for the community. Because I think Harriet is a pretty caring character as well. She’s powerful, but I think she’s a leader, you know?
TNE: Yeah. Did you find yourself wanting to learn – or have you even learned at all ASL – or the sign language?
Hannah Levien: I never have, but I mean it was so impressive on set to see Marlee and her signer signing with each other and definitely a different form of communication, and Marlee and I spent quite a bit of time out on that bridge during shooting. And it certainly would have been great to know a few things ahead of time. But Marlee’s also very good at lip-reading. So, I found myself able to communicate [that] way as well. And – but it is – especially watching the characters signing on the show – it looks so impressive, you know?
TNE: Yeah. It does.
Hannah Levien: Yeah. [H]ow did you feel watching that segment with the signing?
TNE: Oh, I loved it. I’ve wanted to learn just from beginning to end, but I did do signing a little bit for a praise dance, but that was just one song. So, I’ve been wanting to take lessons, but I keep on missing the free ones that are offered, so, I just – My timing just seems to suck a lot of the time. But, yeah, I would love to learn it.
Hannah Levien: I didn’t even know they did free lessons.
TNE: Yeah. There’re free lessons at the library or something, and I missed out on it, and I was like, “Fudge.”
Hannah Levien: Yeah. It’s certainly like – it’s just a really interesting additional skill to have.
TNE: Yeah, and I see it at conventions. They have the interpreters that do it for when they have panels and stuff. And, so, John Barrowman is actually famous for that as well because he’ll tease the interpreters a little bit during his panels. It’s hilarious!
Hannah Levien: Yeah, I’ve certainly been at events where they have had the signers, and I’ve been up to a few afterwards and just – especially because I’ve done a little bit of theatre, I just – I think they do such a great job because they’re in a sense performing – it’s that they’re communicating. But they’re so animated and sometimes they’re more interesting to watch than the speaker, you know?
Check out Part 2 of my conversation with Hannah Levien, where we discuss the new show Siren, this is definitely for those that have not checked out the show yet and for anyone to see if there are any hints.