New Zealand actor Emmett Couling Skilton admits he didn't mind at all getting naked for tonight's U.S. premiere of Syfy's The Almighty Johnsons, which involves a young fellow discovering on his 21st birthday that he and his brothers are reincarnations of Norse Gods. In fact, he told Blastr in an exclusive interview, it was a great "weird" way to kick off his character, Axl's, journey.
“The first season is about a boy really trying to find his place in the world,” said Skilton. “It's not just the world that he knew before he was 20. It's a newfound world. It's a struggle, but also there's a lot of joy in there, a lot of difficulty in his journey of finding his place in this new world that he's discovered.”
In The Almighty Johnsons, which comes from New Zealand, the fun loving Axl discovers that being the reincarnation of a Norse god can have its problems. A bunch of goddesses are trying to kill him, he and his brothers don't have full use of their powers, and if he doesn't find his soulmate, Frigg, his brothers will die. No pressure!
"Screw all the gods."
“It's a coming-of-age story about a boy trying to figure out his place as a man in the world, and what our writers have cleverly done is to decide that the way he can become a man is to fulfill his place in the world as a god,” said Skilton. “In doing so, he finds his way in the world as a man. What you'll see as the story goes on is that completely flips on its head and he realizes, screw all the gods, I'm going to figure out my own s--t, and maybe by doing that all the god stuff will fall into place.”
In the premiere, Axl is taken into the woods by his brothers. He thinks they're pulling a joke on him, and isn't entirely convinced about them all being gods. The brothers want to perform a ritual to help Axl discover which god he is, and it involves stripping and holding a sword over his head.
"I had no problem with nudity."
“I think the very clever thing that I like in that scene, [we] not only had to introduce this world to the audience, but we also had to encourage them to believe it in order to carry on with the story. What our writers did was use Axl as the audience's point of view, saying, 'Bulls--t. Come on. This is crap. I'm leaving.' So, in a way, the audience follows Axl until that moment where he believes. The majority of conversations I've had about it, that's the moment when people really buy into it. They go, 'OK, well, we're going to come with Axl on this journey as it goes weird ways,'” he said.
As for getting naked in the woods, “I had no problem with nudity. I think if the nudity seasons the story, then it's fantastic. That was one of those devices that made the audience, even though it was a really serious moment of trying to convince one of the characters that they are this strange, unknown, godly thing, getting nude at the same time really makes the audience enjoy it, I think. It really adds to that comedy/drama side of things that balances that scene out. With that scene, what our writers decided to do with the nudity was really push it to the extreme of ridiculous. Axl not only heard this story, but he had to keep doing these more and more ridiculous things. And then, once it all happened and the lightning bolt hit him, there was a huge payoff, because he didn't give a s--t he was nude anymore. He didn't care about the god stuff. All he wanted to worry about was the fact that he was probably going to have awesome powers,” said Skilton.
As for Skilton, "in terms of the nudity, that was my third and fourth day of shooting. I knew the crew kind of well by the end, and I knew some of the actors quite well, but that was another one of those moments of being chucked in the deep end. Me, I'm very comfortable with my body, but also I'm very comfortable using that as a device to tell a story. In that moment, it was very important. Our show doesn't indulge in things like that for unnecessary reasons,” he said.
You'll encounter Thor and Loki, "but in a very New Zealand way."
“As you watch the rest of the story, Axl realizes that doing some quest, trying to find some particular chick, he gets really worried halfway through it. I think he's a real romantic at heart and he really cares for people and he really loves people a lot more deeply than some of his other buddies do, so he's driven by some of his brother's actions to just go around and screw around. Axl has real moral issues with that. So there's a lot of relatable morality in the story that I think most people will be able to either relate to the brother who wants to go out and pull chicks into bed, or relate to the brother that finds it hard to leave the house, or relate to the older brother who's so hard that he doesn't let his emotions get in the way, or relate to the 20-year-old alcoholic who would rather just party than have any responsibility,” said Skilton.
“One of the exciting things is you'll encounter some of the gods that we experience on our big blockbuster movies, like Thor and Loki, but in a very New Zealand way.”
The Almighty Johnsons filmed three seasons of Axl's journey, and Skilton tells us the character will evolve over the seasons.
"It gets weirder."
“He does grow up. In a fantastic way, in a crazy world, in a place of love, support, and a little bit of weird s--t ... a lot of weird shit. I hope you continue to watch the season, because it gets weirder than the first episode. I promise you that,” he said.
Skilton is thrilled that Syfy is airing The Almighty Johnsons and that America is finally being “exposed to what New Zealand has to offer,” he said.
“American audiences should particularly watch, because this is something that they wouldn't have experienced before. This is something that is unique to New Zealand in its storytelling. It's a story that's relatable to everyone and it's fricking fun and it's fricking funny. All it takes is one hour for you to get hooked, so give it a go," said Skilton.
The Almighty Johnsons premieres on Syfy tonight at 10 p.m.
Here's a look:
So are you going to "give it a go"?