Austin Butler has to save the world — or at least he has to in his new TV show. The former “Carrie Diaries” actor is one of the stars of “The Shannara Chronicles,” MTV’s new sci-fi epic. Butler plays Wil Ohmsford, a healer who has to help Princess Amberle (Poppy Drayton) save the world from demons. However, Butler told reporters at a press event at New York Comic-Con that it wasn’t Wil’s heroic qualities that drew him to the role.
“It felt very human, the not feeling like a hero and then having to find that within yourself and challenges coming up and going ‘I don’t know if I can handle that,’” Butler explained. “And then having to because you don’t have another option. I felt like that a lot in life and I think seeing that, especially in a fantasy world where it almost feels like a metaphor, and it’s a nice way to kind of lose yourself. That attracted me to it.”
Butler’s character grows into a hero throughout the first season. However, the 24-year-old hinted that it won’t be the easiest transition for Wil, and there might be some losses along the way. “In the beginning he doesn’t believe in magic. He doesn’t think that he can make a difference,” Butler said. “Through the course of it, he learns that — because he has to — that that’s inside of him and that he can make a difference. He can protect the people that he loves, and sometimes he can’t. And when you can’t, you have to push through that and you deal with that and you man up and you learn how to make the best of that.”
Wil isn’t the only one feeling like an outsider. The fantasy world of “The Shannara Chronicles” was brought to life in New Zealand, which made the American actor feel a like a foreigner. Butler spent six months on the island filming the debut season, which is based on Terry Brooks’ novel “The Elfstones of Shannara.”
“There’s a serenity and it’s also so isolated from everybody that I knew and all my family and friends and all the restaurants that I’m used to,” Butler said. “So I felt like the character in that sense of being a fish out of water, just kind of being here having to overcome these challenges in a place that was absolutely gorgeous.”
Of course, Butler and his character weren’t facing these challenges alone. Drayton, who plays Princess Amberle Elessedil, is his partner throughout the series. Amberle, like Wil, isn’t a savior when the series starts, but she has to find her heroic side quickly. “When she discovers that she has to save the world and has to go on this quest and really test herself and test her strength, that’s the real game changer for her,” Drayton said. “She goes from being this young, slightly fragile, vulnerable girl to then being like ‘Okay, no, I might not be as strong as I think I am, but I am going to try my hardest and be strong and be brave.’”
Amberle and Wil are going to have to be brave if they want to take on the demons. The new trailer gives a glimpse of the ugly creatures, and they look powerful and deadly. Viewers will have to tune in to see how the heroes defeat them.
Watch the trailer for “The Shannara Chronicles” below:
“The Shannara Chronicles” premieres with a two-hour episode after “Teen Wolf” on Tuesday, Jan. 5, at 10 p.m. EDT on MTV.