Ivana Baquero is a huge fan of fantasy books and films, and so taking on one of the lead roles in MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles was a perfect fit for the fantasy fan. Baquero plays Eretria in the TV series based on Terry Brooks’ bestselling book series, with MTV now airing episodes on Tuesday nights at 10pm ET/PT.
In support of The Shannara Chronicles first season, we chatted with Baquero to find out who Eretria is and what viewers can expect when they tune in to check out this fantasy action-adventure.
Ivana Baquero Interview:
What goes through your mind every time you get into character as Eretria?
Ivana Baquero: “She’s definitely got two sides to her. For one, she’s this sort of gruff, even a bit selfish, quite a badass girl but on the other hand, she’s really vulnerable. She hasn’t been taught to be compassionate, to love, to be affectionate. I get to balance those two things and I always had that in mind when I got into character because I didn’t want people to think she was one thing or she was the other thing. I wanted it to be a round character where you could empathize with her decisions.”
What do you like the most about Eretria?
Ivana Baquero: “I love that she’s so resourceful because she had to basically learn how to survive on her own. She does come from a Rover clan. They’re a nomadic group of thieves that roam around the Four Lands. She lives with them and her dad, Cephero, he’s the leader of the group. Nevertheless, she’s had to basically learn how to fend for herself and survive and learn how to use weapons. I really admire and love that about her and that’s one of the coolest parts I think about the character. I was really excited that I got the opportunity to work on that stuff and learn how to fight with weapons, horseback ride. I would say that side of her is my favorite.”
What are some things you don’t like about her?
Ivana Baquero: “I don’t like to judge my characters when I play them, but in saying that, without judging her, I do think many of the decisions she makes are probably not the right ones. Especially on how she acts in front of Wil and what she has to do to survive. Some of those things I might like less, but she is learning, at the end of the day, and she doesn’t know any better so I can’t really judge her for that. So we’ll see what happens with Eretria.”
What new training did you have to do for this role?
Ivana Baquero: “Most of the things I did were new to me. All I knew was horseback riding before I started the show. Other than that, we learned how to use weapons. That included swords, in my case daggers, whips and also we got to do a lot of personal training. Besides classic exercise that included learning how to box and how to fight I learned a lot of things like self defense. It was super interesting. I just felt so empowered after every day. I felt like I could basically defend myself and be a bit of a badass myself. We went through a lot of training. We learned so many things.”
Had you read the books before the audition?
Ivana Baquero: “No, I hadn’t read the books before. I didn’t actually know about the books. It’s funny, in Spain they were published ages ago when these books originally came out. Then they never got reprinted so there weren’t any more books left at all in Spain. It was missing. Obviously once I got cast, I read the books. Even though the show is an adaptation, I still wanted to know what Terry Brooks had created. I was very interested because I myself am a big fan of Tolkien so I love those kinds of fantasy worlds. It was just a lot of fun. It didn’t feel like work.”
What were some scenes from the book you couldn’t wait to do?
Ivana Baquero: “You know, to be honest it was a little bit of everything. I’m a really big sucker for fantasy. I love all of that stuff. I’ve always said as a joke I wouldn’t mind being a tree in Lord of the Rings, if I could just experience the whole thing and just be there. If anything, I was looking forward to horseback riding because that’s something I love doing anyways. I was very looking forward to that.”
How do you like New Zealand?
Ivana Baquero: “I love New Zealand. It’s such a wonderful place. It’s got everything and people are so welcoming. They’re so nice. And obviously the land itself is so beautiful and you get the best of both worlds. You’ve got cities but then you’ve got the most amazing, beautiful nature. It’s so beautiful and I love exploring it.”
Are you more of a nature girl or a city girl?
Ivana Baquero: “It’s funny that you ask this because I’ve always considered myself a city girl and ever since I did Shannara it’s sort of changed for me. I’m starting to really appreciate nature even more and I feel at ease in it. It makes me feel so relaxed and so at peace when I’m able to discover these amazing places. So, I would say I’m actually more of a nature girl now.”
The three main characters aren’t just automatically a team and instead cross paths, split up, and cross paths again. Does that continue throughout the season?
Ivana Baquero: “It does for a bit. There’s definitely a lot of back and forth in the beginning and a lot of time spent with each character individually so you get to bond with each and get to know about each. Eventually they end up teaming up to go on this quest to save the world, so you’ll see how they come together as the show goes on rather than having them separately shown.”
It’s interesting they don’t just jump right into this as a team and instead the trust has to be earned.
Ivana Baquero: “Totally. And I think the love triangle also adds a lot to that because you never know. That seems to be an arc throughout the show. I definitely agree with you and I think it makes it richer and more interesting, rather than have them just automatically together.”
You said you’ve always wanted to do fantasy. Have you also wanted to do action?
Ivana Baquero: “To be honest, I’d never thought about action. I love the genre, too, but I’d never done action before. I’ve done a lot of drama, fantasy, scary movies, but I’d never done action. It was so much fun to do. I think it’s probably one of my favorite genres at the moment. Every day is like a new adventure and every day you get to learn new things. It keeps you on your toes and it’s really, really cool. And in this show you have the best of both worlds because you’ve got the action and then obviously there’s a lot of character development and a lot of things you can do with your character too. It was really such a great opportunity.”
Are the complexities that fans loved in the books present in the show? They won’t be toning any character down?
Ivana Baquero: “They are not toning Eretria or I think anyone else down. They are very faithful, I think, in that regard. Terry Brooks is always overlooking the project so I think there’s none of that. Speaking of Eretria in particular, she always keeps her edge. All of the characters grow into being even more fierce and into really wanting to go on this quest and fight for what they think is right. So by any means it’s not toned down. The stakes get higher and higher as the show goes on.”
Looking back on your experience with Pan’s Labyrinth, what do you see when you watch that film now?
Ivana Baquero: “It’s strange but it got to a point after watching it so many times that I can see it as a different person. And also because I was younger and I looked different, when I watch the movie I’m not thinking it’s me. It’s just like this different person in the screen, which in a way is good because it helps you watch the movie in a more relaxed way and appreciate different things in the film rather than just look at yourself and go, ‘Oh my god I did this.’ It’s special and beautiful in that way.”
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