Play­ing god a hec­tic but re­ward­ing job

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By MATTHEW DAL­LAS

Em­mett Sk­il­ton says work­ing in tele­vi­sion is like be­ing on a fast­mov­ing ma­chine, ‘‘ when you step off it’s like ‘what just hap­pened?’’’

For the Ti­tahi Bay-raised star of The Almighty John­sons, ‘‘what just hap­pened’’ was a cal­cu­lated risk that has be­come a hit Kiwi tele­vi­sion show, now in its sec­ond sea­son on TV3.

When Kapi- Mana News first spoke with Sk­il­ton early last year, the ver­dict was still out on whether a show about broth­ers multi-task­ing ev­ery day is­sues with their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as rein­car­nated Nordic gods, would find an au­di­ence. But rat­ings, re­views and fan mail has left lit­tle doubt the off­beat mix of sib­ling ban­ter and fan­tasy has struck a chord.

The for­mer Mana Col­lege stu­dent plays Axl, the youngest of five broth­ers with godly ge­neal­ogy. As the rein­car­nated Odin, he is charged with find­ing the rein­car­na­tion of Odin’s wife Frigg, if the fam­ily is to re­store their pow­ers and pro­tect them­selves from less friendly god-folk.

Sk­il­ton, 24, says the suc­cess of the show can be at­trib­uted to the way it grounds the John­son broth­ers in re­al­ity, deal­ing with ‘‘ev­ery­day stuff’’ – and then push­ing the boundaries.

‘‘You can find whole episodes that deal with Axl [ Sk­il­ton’s char­ac­ter] just try­ing to be a man, to be an adult, it’s re­lat­able to ev­ery­one. It’s not al­ways based around the gods’ world. There’s that fo­cus on the char­ac­ter com­ing into his own, it’s a nice mix.’’

Asked if it was weird to be play­ing Odin while the myth­i­cal fig­ure was also be­ing por­trayed by Sir An­thony Hop­kins in Thor, Sk­il­ton says the big bud­get Mar­vel movie did of­fer un­canny tim­ing and re­as­sur­ance.

‘‘It’s funny. When we first made the show it was hard to know how peo­ple would respond. With the Thor film com­ing out, it seemed like there was a god-show up­ris­ing. It showed us the world was ready for it . . . I sup­pose An­thony Hop­kins did an okay job.’’

The show’s fan­tasy as­pect has been a big hit with view­ers and Sk­il­ton says the show’s writ­ers have taken this on board for sea­son two, promis­ing more ‘‘ god stuff’’ and more im­me­di­ate dan­ger for Axl. ‘‘There’s a lot more at risk . . . The writ­ers have amaz­ing plans on where it can go.’’

Film­ing on The Almighty John- sons sec­ond sea­son wrapped last month. Once voice over-dubs are com­pleted, Sk­il­ton will set his sights on gigs across the ditch, split­ting his time be­tween Australia and New Zealand. Though some down- time is also much needed, he says.

De­spite a busy sched­ule – Sk­il­ton also re­cently acted in a short film and ap­peared in a soonto-be aired episode of panel show Would I Lie to You?, he has man­aged to get back to Ti­tahi Bay three times in the re­cent months, en­joy­ing the beach and vis­it­ing fam­ily in Tawa.

‘‘My life’s changed quite a bit. Lots of peo­ple come up to me now, but it’s great, it means lots of peo­ple are watch­ing the show.’’

And not just in New Zealand. The Almighty John­sons is avail­able on­line in many coun­tries and has screened on tele­vi­sion in the UK.

‘‘I’ll get mes­sages from peo­ple in Scot­land on how much they loved a cer­tain scene.’’

Sk­il­ton is par­tic­u­larly chuffed with the broad au­di­ence the se­ries is at­tract­ing, char­ac­ters con­nect­ing a va­ri­ety of age groups.

‘‘I think all of the boys bring some­thing dif­fer­ent to the show. Olaf [the grand­fa­ther, played by Ben Bar­ring­ton] seems to be a hit with women over 40. A lot of teenagers come up to me, from punk rock­ers to beach- lov­ing girls.’’

Sk­il­ton says he is plan­ning to re­turn to Porirua and Mana Col­lege soon to talk to stu­dents.

The Almighty John­sons screens each Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, TV 3.

Gods on his side: Em­mett Sk­il­ton has ex­pe­ri­enced a heady 12 months, largely due to the work­load and suc­cess of The Almighty John­sons.

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