An actor from Edmonton who is starring as a Viking in a television series is spending his time off screen trying to make waves in a high-tech industry.
Eric Johnson is part of a company called “The Arcadia Games” which is focused on bringing virtual reality experiences to the next level.
“How cool would it be to step into this giant space with just a bunch of other people and play a full-size game in virtual reality like in the movies Tron or Ready Player One?” asks Johnson. “We were frustrated that it didn’t exist, so we set out to build that.”
With TV and movie productions shut down, Johnson is spending his time working on his virtual reality side project.
He says working at the Montreal based company is a lot cleaner than his experience on the set of History Channel’s show Vikings, which was shot in Ireland.
“All that muck and wet and rain was all very real. I was out in the mud swinging swords around. It’s pretty great.”
Johnson says he feels fortunate to have played a variety of parts in his career. He’s played a young Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, a doctor in the HBO series the Knick and the villain Jack Hyde in the 50 Shades movie series.
“I feel fortunate to be able to grow a big beard in Vikings and also be a super corporate looking guy in a $2000 suit the next day. It’s a tremendous amount of fun to explore and play and it means every day at work is very different,” says Johnson.
The actor, who now calls Toronto home, credits a summer camp put on by Edmonton’s Stage for putting him on the path to his success.
“Everybody thought I was a little weird kid and that it would be a good thing for me go to. It was two weeks and I can honestly say that two weeks changed my life.”
Johnson will start a new role soon, playing a police chief on the TV series American Gods. It’s one of the few times he hasn’t been cast as a bad guy, a role that he actually enjoys.
“Bad guys get cool jackets usually,” laughs Johnson. “You never get the girl, but you get cool jacket and the possibly of a cool car for a period of time.”