Hidden behind big, hazel-brown eyes and a bright smile is the heart of a dreamer. Stella Maeve is a performer searching for challenge with each new role she takes on. Returning to the SyFy hit series, The Magicians, we caught up with the engaging artist to find out more.
HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: Let’s go back to the beginning. Where did you grow up?
STELLA MAEVE: The greatest city in the world New York, New York. Hell’s Kitchen, to be specific.
HM: When did acting come into the picture?
SM: I’d like to think the picture was acting and I came into it predestined…if you believe in that sort of thing. According to my mom, when I was four years old, my dad showed me To Kill A Mockingbird, and that was it. I was hooked. You couldn’t get me to sit still for anything except for a black and white classic film (and of course Boo Radley).
HM: Biggest influences…
SM: It’s too hard to pick just one! I’m constantly finding inspiration from many different outlets. My parents shared the gift of music, film, theatre, and the arts with me from an early age.
Prince continues to have a huge impact on me. He’s incredible – from playing 27 different instruments to composing every song he ever put out, directing/writing/starring in his own films, not to mention all of the artists he discovered/developed. He was one of the firsts (in my time, at least) to make sexuality fluid and androgyny acceptable. Being weird and different was a beautiful thing. We are all human – all one. I could write a novel on my love for and connection to this man. I think we come from the same alien planet.
My favorite movie is “The Panic in Needle Park.” You can’t take your eyes off Al Pacino in that film. It is astounding all around. Joan Didion, who is one of my favorite authors, wrote the screenplay.
And Malick…anything Terrance Malick puts out consistently blows my mind to pieces. His work is awe-inspiring, my favorite director.
Didion and Malick have this way of writing that’s stream of consciousness. It’s the only way I understand how to write. It puts you, as the audience, in the driver’s seat, in the characters mind, and takes you on a journey viewed through their (the characters) eyes.
HM: You’ve jumped feet-first into a tough industry where there are more actors than roles to go around. How do you deal with the competitive nature of it all and the pressures, particularly women face to be a certain size or look a certain way?
SM: It is a tough industry, you’re absolutely right. It is not as glamorous as one might think. I’d say my biggest competition is with myself. My team is constantly reminding me, “only you can get in your own way” and it’s true (and, oh boy, have I). It’s hard not to get in your head about things or put added pressure and stress on yourself. I’m still guilty of it. I remind myself in any given moment that all I can do is my best – be prepared, work my butt off, do the research, the reading, the homework and be present and find the joy. I try not to overthink things or beat myself up too much and to be ready for the next opportunity.
Society has us conditioned about what “beauty” is, but beauty comes from within, from the soul. These bodies are only temporary vessels which will eventually age, deteriorate and fail us. It’s what’s inside that really matters. I genuinely believe that. Beauty is like art. What deems someone or something as beautiful? It’s all relative, it’s all perception. There should be no wrong or right answer. I guess I just hope that the world will start to judge beauty on more than what is on the surface.
HM: Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep…whose career do you look at and think, “I love their creative choices. I love their body of work…”?
SM: You didn’t mention the messiah – Cate Blanchett! Yes, Charlize is incredible. So are Tilda Swinton, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniel Day, Gary Oldman. I could go on and on.
HM: Best career advice you’ve gotten…
SM: I’m not sure what the best advice I’ve gotten is. Maybe I haven’t gotten it yet.
HM: You’ve appeared on Grey’s Anatomy, Chicago P.D., Rizzoli & Isles and Law and Order S.V.U. to name a few shows. What did you take away from those experiences?
SM: I think I’ve learned something different from every job experience. Whether I realize it at the time or in retrospect, gaining knowledge through experience is the only way to grow.
HM: You are returning for season 2 of The Magicians on Syfy. For those just jumping on board, what do they need to know about the show?
SM: Yes, season 2. The Magicians is based on a trilogy of books written by Lev Grossman. If you’re into the fantasy genre, then you’ll really enjoy it, but even if you’re not into fantasy, the books are a great read. The first season of the show is on Netflix, so you should catch up if you haven’t already!
HM: You play Julia Wicker on the fantasy series. Tell us about her…
SM: I do indeed. Julia Wicker…where do I begin?! She’s such a complex character. It’s extremely challenging to sink into her skin as she has so many layers. She’s fierce and feral, beautifully tragic, terrified, yet unbelievably strong. I think there are ways we all identify with Julia. We watch this young woman start out as a privileged Upper West Side girl and then turn into a street magic-practicing survivor. We get to watch her navigate this journey and hopefully come out on other side but, no matter what, she’s someone you root for.
HM: What was your approach to playing her?
SM: I wanted to play Julia as she was written in the novels, the way Lev (Grossman) had envisioned her and the way Sera Gamble and John McNamara formatted her for the screen.
HM: Let’s talk a bit of fashion. Three designers you are digging right now…
SM: I love what YSL is doing right now. Prada. I thought Burberry had a really cool fall collection (2016). Toga Pulla makes the most incredible boots I’ve ever seen. I just bought three different pairs.
HM: How would you describe Julia’s style?
SM: Hmm, Julia’s style is pretty conservative. It’s very A-line, solid colors, preppy and simple but chic, with some black jeans. I’m hoping next year we get to play more and explore with wardrobe and costumes in Fillory.
HM: On a day off, what would you be wearing? How would you describe your style?
SM: I’m liable to wear anything. My favorite thing is lingerie. For street clothes, most likely high-waisted black ripped 70’s style jeans, cropped tee shirt, no bra, with a loud vintage jacket (my army one or multi colored purple faux fur). Most days I look homeless… haha.
HM: If you could raid one celebrity closet, whose would it be?
SM: One?! I think Prince, Stevie Nicks, Chloe Sevigny, Cher, Bianca Jagger. Some of the greatest style icons of our time. The music world always takes such great risks with fashion, whereas actors (with some exceptions) tend to play it safe. I’m hoping to bridge that gap, blur those lines a bit and open up some room to play in.
HM: When you have downtime, what do you like to get into?
SM: What’s downtime? Ha. I love reading, playing music, jam sessions with friends, cooking, watching Netflix, hanging with my pup and my family, dancing around the living room naked. Traveling is always a treat and anything having to do with a spa is always awesome. People watching, seeing live theatre, art exhibits, museums, learning. I want to constantly be learning. That said, I love what I do so if I can be doing that, that’s what I’d prefer. Oh. Baths… I love taking baths. In fact, I might be addicted to baths.
HM: Tell me something we’d be surprised to know about you?
SM: I don’t know what would surprise you. I guess that I play bass and drums? Or that I have a secret passion for making floral arrangements.
HM: What’s the master plan?
SM: Okay. The master plan. Wait, isn’t there that quote “life happens when your busy making plans?” I just want to be happy, make my art, reach people through it and connect the world.
‘THE MAGICIANS’ AIRS ON SYFY, WEDNESDAYS, 9/8C.
STELLA ON TWITTER: @StellaMaeve14
STELLA ON INSTAGRAM: @stellamaeve
PHOTOGRAPHY: JOSHUA SHULTZ