'The 100' premiere: Isaiah Washington, Paige Turco and the rest of the sci-fi cast discuss the show's high stakes
At the beginning of "The 100," that number of juvenile offenders are sent from their space-station home down to the Earth. No one has been there for several generations, thanks to a global nuclear war, but now The Ark space station is failing. If they can't go back to Earth, humanity is essentially doomed.
Most of the older actors on the show remain at the space station throughout. Washington, for example, plays humanity's official leader, Chancellor Jaha. "He's trying to do the best for the people and for the human race. You know, there are no easy decisions and there are no easy outs," the actor says of his troubled and often endangered character.
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The stress of Jaha's job has even affected the actor: "I have new gray hairs, although The CW doesn't want them on the show. I look in the mirror, and I feel like Barack Obama!" he says with a laugh.
Two of Jaha's main deputies in leadership are Council members Kane (Cusick) and Abigail Griffin (Turco). While supposedly equals and co-workers, these two have very different points of view when it comes to their dangerous situation. "Even I'm not really sure of the whole dynamic with Jaha," Cusick says. "You would think after the first episode that I would perhaps want him out of the way ... But I think the relationships are more complex than that between the three of us."
Turco's character has even more on the line -- her only daughter, Clarke, is one of the kids sent down to Earth. Add to this the fact that she is a pragmatic scientist, and you have Abigail's central conflict. "Abby is much more proactive in solving problems," Turco says. "I think she's very goal-oriented, thanks to the human aspect, wanting to save her daughter because she's a mom."
Still, it's more than mothering instincts that drive Griffin. "It's not just saving these kids, it's about finding out if Earth is habitable," she says. "It's about saving everybody."
Leaving behind the Ark station, much of the rest of "The 100" cast gets marooned on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Things rapidly descend into "Lord of the Flies" territory, but some of the main characters work for both order and survival.
Clarke Griffin, for example, knows what's at stake in this experiment. "She's a natural-born leader. Not really by choice -- I think she just cares a lot about people," actress Eliza Taylor says of her character. "It's an issue in the group, because the show's got that 'Lord of the Flies' undertone with these 100 juvenile delinquents who have got to work together for the good of the group. But of course they don't want to. So she's got to get them to work together so that the human race can survive."
It's not just work though -- Clarke has a bit of a romantic interest in another of the 100, Finn (Thomas McDonell). "Finn and Clarke have a really lovely chemistry -- they both want the same thing," Taylor says. "Even though in the beginning, Finn comes across as just another criminal rebel, he does in fact really care. Clarke sees that and falls for him a little bit."
Clarke does, however, have a rival for Finn's affections in Octavia Blake, played by Marie Avgeropoulos. "I think everybody takes a little delight in Finn, just because of his easygoing and carefree nature," Avgeropoulos answers when asked how much there might be between Octavia and Finn.
Who is this Octavia? She is actually one of the few second-born children of The Ark. Hidden for most of her life before being captured and deported with the 100, Octavia is pretty much a natural rebel. "I think when anyone tells her what to do -- like any teenager wants to do -- is figure out the mistake for themselves rather than take the warning," she says. "She definitely appreciates his advice, but she wants to figure things out for herself."
Octavia does have plenty of sources for advice -- her big brother, Bellamy (Bobby Morley), is one of the 100 as well. Older than most of the kids and ready to lead, Bellamy offers the strongest resistance to Clarke's intentions and advice. "There's kind of like two schools of thought under Bellamy and Clark -- and they're pretty much at loggerheads for most of that," says Morley. "There are no rules and it's survival of the fittest. The strongest survive. And Bellamy comes to a position of leadership."
But what about that bad-boy love interest, Finn? Actor McDonell points out that, while "all the girls are somewhat interested in Finn," the young man has more than that going on. "The thing about Finn, he's able to -- more easily than some of the characters -- drift between the two groups. There's a flexibility about him," the actor explains. "When the in-fighting starts to happen, he's not immediately part of that conflict."
"The 100" premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.