Amberle Elessedil (Poppy Drayton) thought she had overcome the worst when she completed The Gauntlet and became the seventh of the Elven Chosen in the opening of The Shannara Chronicles. She got a rude awakening when she found out the Ellcrys, the sacred tree the Chosen are supposed to protect, was dying and a demon army would terrorize her world in the Four Lands if she didn't go on a death-defying mission to save it.
Before Amberle can go on the quest that will ultimately decide the fate of her world, she must prove to the Ellcrys that she's worthy of carrying its seed to the mysterious Safe Home. The test results of her character will be revealed Tuesday night, but Drayton explains to TVGuide.com why Amberle is a new, necessary type of hero ahead of the episode and what's in store for the Elf Princess in this epic quest.
Between the book version and the script version, what is the most important part of Amberle to you that you want to make apparent onscreen?
Poppy Drayton: What I personally got from the character of Amberle from reading [the books] was just how wonderfully compassionate she was as a human being. She loves and cares for everything, whether its plants or animals or trees or leaves — everything. That's something I found in the books that I really wanted to take across to the character. Even in the screen when they adapted it, they still had so much sensitivity and vulnerability to her.
Amberle isn't your typical damsel in distress princess, but she isn't a stone-cold assassin either. What is the approach in finding that middle ground of a "strong female character"?
Drayton: The real message, which I would love to get across to young girls, is that they shouldn't feel weaker or disempowered or any less of a human being just because they're female. They should know they can do everything their male counterparts can do, if not more. It is a really hard line to tread because Amberle, specifically, does have all these vulnerabilities and has been really coddled in this palace all her life. She can't really look after herself at the beginning. She has to grow and find that in herself to become this warrior princess that she becomes. It's a really wonderful journey. I felt empowered playing it, so I hope young girls feel empowered watching it.
Amberle has a lot of trouble accepting her role in this new world once the Ellcrys begins dying. What is her journey of accepting that she's the one who has to save the world like?
Drayton: She has this massive, massive weight that's just chucked at her. At first, she doesn't know how to handle it. One day you're just doing your thing, trying to be as brave as you can be in your own little bubble, and then suddenly you're told you have to save the world and everyone in it. There are moments where she doesn't think she can do it and she has to hopefully rise above that and find it in herself to overcome the fear of failure, which I think everyone can relate to. Part of the really interesting of her journey is the peaks and troughs of her confidence and her belief in herself. She's a cocktail of emotions.
What is the biggest difference between Amberle when we meet her and Amberle at the end of this season?
Drayton: It's almost like they're two completely different people. Through this epic journey that she goes on and this insane character arc, she keeps the essence of herself in there, despite extreme adversity in so many different forms. She does, obviously, make huge changes throughout the course of the quest. The essence of her is this bright shining light that has to stay strong to save the Four Lands.
Drayton: There's a really interesting dynamic between the three of us. It's always tricky when two people are after the same guy. [They] all sort of jostle in position. Everyone has their own status within the trio. It's interesting to see how that sort of shifts and how the relationships swap. It's not as simple as Eritria and Amberle always at loggerheads and Wil always torn between the two. There's several interesting shifts where little pairs are formed between the three, and it's not always the ones you'd expect. I think it keeps you on your toes.
The Shannara Chronicles airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on MTV.