‘The Shannara Chronicles’ Star Austin Butler Explains Why Wil Keeps Falling for Eretria’s Tricks

“There’s this seductive quality to her. She’s really good at getting in somebody’s mind, especially Wil’s,” MTV star tells TheWrap

Wil let Eretria catch him with his pants down and steal the elfstones for the second time on Tuesday’s episode of “The Shannara Chronicles,” and according to star Austin Butler, that’s the last straw.

“He’s thrown up a huge wall between him and Eretria,” Butler told TheWrap of his character’s relationship with the wily thief.

But it’s a wall that’s going to have to come down at some point, especially now that they’ve been tasked with saving the world together. “She’s really good at getting in somebody’s mind, especially Wil’s. So it’s fun to watch their dynamic now,” Butler said in the interview below.

TheWrap: For the audience, “Shannara” seems like a very different kind of show from what you’ve done in the past (“The Carrie Diaries,” “Life Unexpected”). Does it feel that way to you?
Butler: It’s very different. Not just the concept of the show and the character, but the way that we filmed – we filmed in New Zealand. So much was unique to this project, it was a really cool thing to be a part of.

What can you bring from those other projects to a big fantasy series like this one?
One of the biggest things you can take from shows set in our world is the practice of how we as human beings react to each other. That’s something that throughout history has always been the same. Whether or not the landscape changes, or social circumstances change, core human emotions are always the same. So with a fantasy series, what I’ve always noticed was that it could easily become all about the fantasy and not about the human interactions. So that’s one of the things that I hope we achieved, and that I was really striving for: the humanity.

Was there anything you weren’t expecting, or that caught you off-guard, while you were working on “Shannara”?
It was mostly what I just touched on. The fact that you could so easily start playing into the fantasy … That’s why I really wanted to try to find the humor in it. Because I know that when I go through rough situations in my everyday life, you kind of grab for humor to get you through.

We’re dealing with a situation where we’re trying to save the world from rampaging demons, and that could easily become something that becomes very far-fetched and doesn’t feel relatable, so the biggest challenge was making something so different from what people experience in their everyday lives feel relatable. Make that feel as though any one of us would react in a similar way in that situation.

Wil suffers from his own naivete quite a bit in the first four episodes. How does that affect his journey throughout the rest of Season 1?
That’s sort of Wil’s journey throughout the first 10 episodes, realizing that he doesn’t know the rules of the world. He’s never experienced it out there. He can be very trusting and naïve, and we’ve already seen that with the elfstones getting stolen multiple times by the same girl. I enjoyed watching Wil transition and grow into manhood as he sort of learns the ways of the world by experiencing loss and through having to be the hero. That growth has been exciting for me to play.

Eretria has pulled the same trick on Wil twice now, and she threw it in his face in front of Amberle. How could he possibly trust her again?
When we leave off Episode 4, that’s kind of where Wil is. He has that feeling of, if I allow you to trick me again, it’s kind of all on me at this point. Because you’ve proven to me that you are not to be trusted.

He’s thrown up a huge wall between him and Eretria at this point and doesn’t want to allow her to trick him again. That makes the relationship fun in a way, because there’s this seductive quality to her. She’s really good at getting in somebody’s mind, especially Wil’s. So it’s fun to watch their dynamic now that he’s doing his best to put up this wall.

He’ll have to trust her, at least to some degree, right? The three of them are going on this big journey together and the fate of the world is at stake.
There are endless challenges along the way, but it’s their destiny to be on this journey together. And you get to learn on the way why each of them was chosen for this. In the beginning, Wil did not seem heroic at all … he’s been chosen for this journey, but you kind of wonder why. Each of them you kind of get to see — episode by episode, as challenges arise — why each of them was chosen.

“The Shannara Chronicles” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.

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