If you’re a fan of comedy, adventure and fantasy, you might like one of three new shows premiering this week. Here’s a closer look at some of the people behind “Chelsea Does,” “Beowulf” and “The Magicians.”
Chelsea Handler’s never been at a loss for words. That’s why she is so excited about “Chelsea Does,” her series of documentaries on Netflix.
She covers four topic: “Chelsea Does Marriage.” “Chelsea Does Racism,” “Chelsea Does Silicon Valley” and “Chelsea Does Drugs.” All four will be available on the streaming service Saturday, Jan.23.
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“They are all very different, and it’s been a really amazing experience for me work-wise because it’s obviously a lot different than anything I’ve done before,” Handler says. “Some were very personal. Some were very mind opening. Some were jarring.”
Marriage has always been an interesting topic to her, while racism was an obvious choice because of the importance of the topic.
She shows off more of her humor with the Silicon Valley film. As for her selection of drugs as a topic, she says it was “just something that I thought would be nice to illustrate how irresponsible people are with prescription medication and when combining that with alcohol.”
Katie Newman ran into difficulties when she started pitching the idea of a series based on the epic tale of Beowulf.
“Some people just went, ‘Oh, yeah, I studied it and hated the poem.’” Newman says. “We’re coming to it with a fresh eye, if you like.”
“Beowulf” launches Saturday, Jan. 23, on Esquire. The 13-episode series follows Beowulf’s return to his home Herot to make peace with his past. Unwittingly in search of a cause to believe in and a community to fight for, Beowulf finds himself wrongly accused of murder and hunts down the true perpetrator to avenge the death of his fellow kinsmen.
The series stars: Kieran Bew (“Da Vinci’s Demons”) as Beowulf; William Hurt (“Damages”) as Hrothgar; Joanne Whalley (“Wolf Hall”) as Rheda; Ed Speleers (“Downton Abbey”) as Slean Laura Donnelly (“Outlander”) as Elvina; and David Ajala (“Black Box”) as Rate.
It wasn’t the poem that concerned Bew. He was more interested in the physical aspects of the role.
“I started at 9 because of TV shows like this wanting to emulate sort of people like Richard Harris, Oliver Reed, and all these great sort of heroes on the TV. And so coming to the show where we had to fight was just thrilling, and it’s such a pleasure to go to work and do it,” Bew says. “I did a lot of work with a world champion kickboxer who happened to be nearby, and he taught me how to kick people.”
Morro Bay native Olivia Taylor Dudley knew that she wanted to be an actor when she was 5. Such lofty dreams aren’t that unusual, except in Dudley’s case she made the a career choice after a few minutes of watching Linda Blair.
“It’s going to sound silly, but I snuck in and watched ‘The Exorcist.’ My dad and godfather were watching it when I was supposed to be watching cartoons,” Dudley says. “It affected me in such a way that I knew I wanted to do what she was doing. It looked like so much fun and I have been fascinated with acting ever since.”
Dudley left her family’s horse ranch when she was a teen to follow her dream. She first worked behind the camera, but she eventually got to pursue the acting career. The young blond actress landed roles on the TV shows “CSI: Miami,” “NCIS” and “The Comedians” and in the films “Transcendence” and “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension.”
Her latest role is as the mysterious Alice in the new Syfy series “The Magicians.” The series is adapted from Lev Grossman’s fantasy trilogy that follows Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph), a grad student selected to attend Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy. You could think of it as “Harry Potter: The College Years.”
Dudley was unaware of the book series, but she knew she wanted to be part of the project before she read the first script.
“I am obsessed with the fantasy and magic genre,” Dudley says. “Anytime I get a chance to be part of something in that genre I really want to be part of it. Then I read the pilot and was blown away.”
She started reading the first book as she began to prepare for the audition, but she stopped because she was afraid she would form such a love for the material that it would crush her if she wasn’t cast to play Alice.
After she landed the role, she read the trilogy.
“They are such amazing source material to pull from,” Dudley says. “I knew Alice’s trajectory because I have read everything Lev has written about her. I know Alice inside and out. I feel like Alice is a best friend to me.
We are also getting to explore story lines that aren’t in the books. I feel like it’s the easiest role I’ve ever had.
Olivia Taylor Dudley
She stresses that while the series is called “The Magicians” and everyone is doing magic, that’s not what is at the heart of the show. She was drawn to its deep and complicated look at relationships and young people trying to figure out who they are in the world.
- 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, Netflix
- 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, Esquire
- 9 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, Syfy