The entire premise of THE 100 is the life and death stakes of survival. It sets up two distinct worlds, one on the dying space station known as the Ark and the other where one hundred juvenile delinquents are sent back to Earth to see if they can survive. For young teen Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor), she seems to be the only one who instinctively understands that all their lives are at risk the moment they set foot on Earth. If the radiation doesn’t kill them, then something else just might.
In a press interview at the Warner Bros. Mondo Television International Press Tour, star Eliza Taylor talked about Clarke’s need to prove that she can be a leader and the obstacles she will combat to survive.
Clarke’s world has kind of shifted. She’s on Earth and her mom is back on the space station, and she’s kind of taken on a default position of power with people are looking to her for leadership. So where does the story kind of take her on her journey for this first season?
ELIZA: I think it’s a total roller-coaster for her. She’s still a teenager at the end of the day, even though she’s taken on such a heavy role, and there are certainly times where the normal teenage stuff kind of gets in the way. I find that really interesting because it’s not very often that you see that kind of childlike-side of [Clarke] because she’s so strong and brave and such a good leader. But one of the nice things is when you do see that side of her and you do see a smile or something, it’s really cool. So, hopefully, there will be a little bit more of that.
Can you talk about Clarke’s relationship with the Ark and how that affects her while being on Earth?
ELIZA: Clarke was brought up in one of the more well‑to‑do sectors of the Ark because her mom is the Chief of Medicine and her dad was the Head of Mechanics. So I think that she was raised in a really safe and happy environment. And then when her father discovered that there was a flaw in the system and things were about to get crazy, her whole world was turned upside down. Her father was executed, and she was thrown into prison. There’s a lot of tension between her and her mother because [her mother] kind of took the side of the Ark, in [Clarke’s] eyes anyway. So I think when [Clarke] gets to Earth, there’s that tension with her mother, but there’s also that responsibility to do the right thing and make sure that [they] tell the Ark that the ground is inhabitable and that they’re not all going to die.
Are we going to see anything in flashback about Clarke and her mom’s relationship and stuff like that?
ELIZA: I think that the writers have been really clever about that sort of thing. I think there’s definitely going to be some hints of what they’ve been through in the past and how they got to where they are.
Is Clarke going to be taking, not just the default leadership role, but the position of saying, “Hey, we’ve got to take on responsibility of taking care of ourselves, and it looks like there might be other ominous factors out here that we need to all band together to really face together”?
ELIZA: I think the cool thing about when the kids get to Earth is that they do that natural rebellious thing. And [Clarke’s] role is to kind of be like, “Look, you’re all going to die if you don’t actually take on some responsibility and build a fire and hunt, get some food, find water,” all that stuff. I think that’s definitely her thing.
This is a society expelling its bad children, in a way. When you read the script, did you sense the heavier messages?
ELIZA: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s some great morals too. There’s a moral in every episode really that’s not just exclusive to their situation. I think it’s something everyone can relate to.
What is Clarke’s relationship with the one hundred kids on the planet? How does she relate to them?
ELIZA: I think throughout the series, she relates to a number of different kids on the ground. I think she’s an extremely compassionate person and very empathic. And she really just wants to take care of everyone. So I think her connection is to everyone because she feels responsible for them and she wants to keep them safe.
It seems like there are two factions very quickly. Where will Clarke find herself?
ELIZA: I think she’s really conflicted about that because sometimes being in a position of power does mean making hard decisions that other people aren’t going to agree with. So I think she definitely treads that line between sort of possibly hurting people, but it being for the good of the group.
By separating the two groups, what do you think it exposes? What vulnerabilities does the absence of each group expose in the other?
ELIZA: That’s a deep question. I think, for the Ark, the only thing that changes for them is the parents of the kids who have gone down, it’s more of a personal thing. For the Ark as a whole, it’s a good thing. They’ve saved themselves more time to figure out what they’re going to do about the lack of oxygen. The less people on the Ark, the longer they’ve got. So I think that’s that situation. And then you’ve got the ground, where these kids ‑‑ though they’ve been trained, like Clarke is medically trained by her mother, and I think instead of school, there’s more of an apprenticeship‑type thing where you follow in the footsteps of your parents. But they need doctors, engineers just people to kind of guide them. So that leaves them very vulnerable.
You’d think that a society without adults is very appealing to children.
ELIZA: It is. And that’s where the group is divided. It’s like, “We don’t want them to come down.” It’s kind of like when you say to a kid, “Don’t push the red button.” And it’s like what are they going to do? [Push the button!]
Did you have to do a lot of action sequences? Is it physically demanding role?
ELIZA: Yeah. I think the scariest one for us is running through the forest in winter because it gets icy and slippery. And we have had so many amazing “stacks” on this show. Like, we have all fallen spectacularly and come very close to seriously hurting ourselves. So there’s a lot of running, like going for it in the forest. Apart from that, I mean, there are a lot of stunts, but we generally have stunt-doubles helping us out with that.
Do you like to watch other seasons of other TV shows, whether it’s on DVD, digital or Blu‑ray?
ELIZA: Absolutely. I’m obsessed with THE WALKING DEAD. Love that show. And BOARDWALK EMPIRE. Then I went through a huge MAD MEN phase. I’m a binge viewer. I like to just switch on Netflix and watch a full season of something all in a row. I call it my cave days. I think it’s great. And I don’t feel like it’s something that we’ve been able to do until quite recently. At least I wasn’t aware of it. Now if I have to wait a week to watch another episode of something, I’m like, “Come on!”
Do you think there’s any advantage to having to wait for episodes?
ELIZA: There is. There is an advantage to waiting because that keeps you guessing and keeps it interesting. But I’ve seen the light now. I’ve gone the other way.
How do you describe the show in terms of genres? Obviously, there’s sci‑fi, but there’s also some teenage drama and agnst as well.
ELIZA: I think that’s what makes it really interesting and kind of different is the fact that you’ve got the grown‑ups up in space, and that’s all very kind of sci‑fi and futuristic. But then you’ve got these kids on Earth going through [teen] stuff. I think that opens up the demographic a lot to an older audience and to the usual CW’s teen audience.
To see how Clarke navigates the developing factions and works tirelessly to see that everyone survives, be sure to tune in for the premiere of THE 100 on Wednesday, March 19th at 9:00 p.m. on the CW.