Shannara Chronicles: meet Wil Ohmsford

Austin Butler on playing the young hero in MTV’s Shannara Chronicles

Shannara Chronicles Austin Butler

Fans of Terry Brooks’ eons-spanning fantasy Shannara series will rejoice that it will finally be hitting the small screen. Created by Smallville‘s Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and produced by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), it certainly has no shortage of star power behind it.

One of the arguably less familiar names attached to it is young star Austin Butler. Formerly the frequent star of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows, he most recently popped up for a few episodes in Arrow, and will play Wil Ohmsford in The Shannara Chronicles.

“Wil is a farm boy who has never been more than five miles outside of his village,” says Butler. “In the beginning of the story, all he can think about is protecting his mum – she’s very sick, and he just wants her to get better. He thinks that his place in the world is to become a healer, and that’s what will give him security. While he’s on a journey to become a healer, he gets pulled off that journey by Allanon, this Druid, who reveal that his ancestors were kings and warriors.”

Butler admits to not having read any of the books before getting the role, but his encounters with those involved on the show – as well as actual fans – helped bring him round. “I hadn’t read the books,” he recalls on how he became involved, “but when I first met with the guys – Al Gough, Miles Millar and our director Jonathan Liebsman – I had a dentist appointment the next day, and I told him, ‘I just met with people on this thing called Shannara,’ and he goes, ‘I read those in second grade.’ He was so excited. So I’m sitting in the chair with stuff in my mouth, and he’s telling me all about the books.

“That was my first experience, then I got the book and started reading The Elfstones Of Shannara. That was my experience with the subject up to that time, and then getting to meet Terry Brooks was so cool. [Being] able to ask, ‘When you created this character, where were you in your life? How did you see him?’ It’s so cool to me.”

The Shannara Chronicles will air on MTV in the US in January 2016, with a UK air date to follow. For more news on the biggest TV shows, pick up the latest issue of SciFiNow.