Teresa Palmer breaks down the magic behind her A Discovery of Witches spells
Diana Bishop has got magic to do.
On Saturday's new episode of A Discovery of Witches, Diana (Teresa Palmer) finally started to get in touch with her magic and the true depth of its power. Through Goody Alsop (Sheila Hancock), she finds a coven in the 16th-century who teach her that she is a weaver, a witch with the power to make and create her own spells. Not only that, but she's a rare weaver who has an affinity for all four elements instead of just one.
"I would get lost in watching [Sheila]," Palmer tells EW. "I would be in a scene with her and I would get completely mesmerized by what she was doing, and then realize, 'Oh, That's my line.' I dug so deep when I was in moments with her... Diana really does need to develop some magic and become competent as a witch. So, she throws herself into her studies and Goody Alsop is a huge part of that for her."
Alongside Goody Alsop, audiences get to watch as Diana finds the threads of earth, fire, wind, and water, and pulls them into knots that suit her needs, thus creating new spells. But just how did they bring this magic to life (besides with clever visual effects)?
Surprisingly, it was really grounded in Palmer's own work with her body. Palmer found Diana's magic through her collaboration with movement coach Sarah Perry. "I call her my magic coach," quips Palmer. "Together, we came up with how the spells are elemental and how we use the movements and the choreography to depict the different knots and it's very, very particular. I learned a series of knots. It's become a dance. I love having someone to bounce ideas off of, and together, we created how the magic would translate and how it manifests itself."
"It was absolutely organic and intuitive," she adds. "I got to choose where I would pull a thread from. Sometimes camera would give me suggestions but oftentimes it was just like I had a dance floor and I was able to do my own thing and find my own flow there. I disappeared into my imagination and I could see the thread. I really felt like I could see these little shimmers. They said it was like if you can imagine spiderwebs going through the grass and the sunlight hits them. It's really tiny, thin, and delicate and intricate. So in my head, I had to represent the delicacy of those threads."
Palmer herself is someone attuned to the natural world. She co-founded a website called Your Zen Mama, which approaches pregnancy and parenthood from a holistic perspective. When it came to tapping into Diana's magic and connections with the elements, Palmer drew on her own spiritual practice.
"I am connected to the elements myself," she explains. "And Sarah, my movement coach, she's really in touch with her spiritual side. We would sit in meditation and we would meditate on earth, we would meditate on fire, water and it became just a really big part of my performance."
Those discoveries ended up carrying over into Palmer's entire performance, not just her magical sequences. "I thought about how the elements are with her all the time, in all her interactions," she reflects. "And the stronger and more confident I got with the magic, the more the elements would be there."
Besides needing to tap into Diana's magic, season 2 also required Palmer to become more familiar with the Elizabethan era as the show follows Diana and Matthew (Matthew Goode) back into the 16th-century. But she had a handy expert on speed-dial if she ever had any questions — A Discovery of Witches' author, executive producer, and historian by trade Deborah Harkness.
"I asked her certain things like, for instance, [with] Queen Elizabeth what are the protocols in terms of how far down we bow? Do we ever turn our back to her? Do we exit the room, facing her and then turn around at the last minute?" Palmer details. "This was her vision; she breathed life into this and her hands are on every aspect of filming and costuming and casting and extras and making sure that it felt authentic. But I am contemporary Diana going back into that world. Probably I had an easier job than those who actually had to play characters from 1590."
A Discovery of Witches streams on Saturdays on Sundance Now, Shudder, and AMC+.