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MTV’s Shannara adaptation has found its king.
The Lord of the Rings alum John Rhys-Davies has joined the cast of the Viacom-owned cable network’s buzzy adaptation, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The 10-episode series takes place in a world set thousands of years after the destruction of civilization as we know it. The adaptation of Terry Brooks‘ book series follows the Shannara family, whose members can tap into ancient magic to help reshape the world’s future. Season one is an adaptation of The Elfstones of Shannara, Brooks’ second title in the series. Production will begin in February in New Zealand.
Rhys-Davies will play King Eventine, Amberle’s (Poppy Drayton) grandfather, who has ruled the Elvin kingdom of Arborlon for decades, flanked by his sons Arion and Ander. Eventine has done questionable things to keep the Four Lands at peace, but when his beloved granddaughter is chosen to fulfill a dangerous destiny, his path is changed as well.
He joins a cast that also includes Ivana Baquero (Pan’s Labrynth) as Eretria, a human described as being from the wrong side of the tracks. Raised by a group of thieves called The Rovers, she has had to use her good looks to survive. After rescuing Wil (Austin Butler, The Carrie Diaries) from danger, she stumbles into being part of Amberle’s journey to save the Four Lands. Other previously announced castmembers include Arrow alum Manu Bennett as the druid Allanon and Aaron Jakubenko as the Elven prince Ander.
MTV ordered the adaptation of Brooks’ Shannara straight to series in June. The Shannara book series launched with 1977’s The Sword of Shannara and now includes more than 25 books made up of multiple trilogies and a prequel. The books are estimated to be the highest-selling unadapted fantasy series in the world, and Brooks is considered the second-highest-selling fantasy author, trailing only Harry Potter‘s J.K. Rowling.
MTV is hoping Shannara will do for it what Game of Thrones has done for HBO and Outlander has done for Starz. Smallville alums Miles Millar and Al Gough are serving as showrunners and are joined by executive producers Jon Favreau, Jonathan Liebesman, Brooks, and Dan Farah. Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) is directing the first two episodes of the series, which also comes from Gene Stein and Sonar Entertainment.
Rhys-Davies’ credits include the Indiana Jones franchise and playing Gimli the dwarf in The Lord of the Rings movies. He recently had a voice arc on Once Upon a Time and next appears in Nat Geo’s Killing Jesus. He is represented by Jeff Goldberg Management and Spring Management.
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