Henry Ian Cusick Talks New The CW Series THE 100, the Fun of Playing a Confused Misanthrope, How LOST Made Him Enjoy Not Knowing What Happens, and More

     March 19, 2014


On the new CW drama series The 100, a nuclear Armageddon decimated planet Earth, destroying civilization, and the only survivors were the 400 inhabitants of 12 international space stations that were in orbit, at the time.  Ninety seven years later, the survivors now number 4,000 and resources are running out on their dying Ark.  To protect the survival of the human race, the leaders take ruthless steps to ensure their future, including secretly sending a group of 100 juvenile prisoners to the Earth’s surface to test whether it’s habitable again.  The series stars Paige Turco, Isaiah Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Kelly Hu, Eliza Taylor, Thomas McDonell, Bob Morley, Eli Goree, Marie Avgeropoulos, Christopher Larkin and Devon Bostick.

During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Henry Ian Cusick (who plays Ark resident Kane) talked about how much fun it is to play a confused misanthrope, why he likes working in TV, what makes this show different, whether we’ll learn more about his mysterious character, how it feels like they’re making two separate shows, with the storyline on the Ark and the one on the ground, and how he likes never really knowing where the story is going.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

the-100-henry-ian-cusickCollider:  Is it fun to play a character like this because you never really know what his motives are?

HENRY IAN CUSICK:  Absolutely!  He’s a confused misanthrope.  You get the impression that he has this disdain for man and mankind, and yet he’s trying to save mankind.  But his way of doing it is kind of extreme.  He thinks we should kill a few hundred to save the rest of us.  It makes sense, but it’s still pretty harsh. 

You’ve done TV before, so were you looking for something very different from the shows you’d done before? 

CUSICK:  I love working in TV.  TV is fast.  You shoot it and it’s done quickly.  This show is fast-paced, high-energy and high-stakes.  It’s life-and-death stuff.  It’s fun.  I have three boys, who are 20, 16 and 14, and they watched the first four and went, “Yeah, it’s good, dad.  It’s cool.”  So, when they say that, it not only makes me happy, but I like their taste.  So I thought, “Okay, I’m on a good show.”  They’ll tell me.  They’re brutally honest kids.  They’ll go, “I don’t really like it.  It’s not my thing.”  I like it when my kids like what I do.  They’ll comment on everything, and they’re usually right, bizarrely enough.  I really listen to them.

What do you think makes this show different?

henry-ian-cusick-the-100CUSICK:  There’s a pretty high body count, and it’s quite bloody and dark.  It’s interestingly shot and well lit, and there’s a lot of interesting camera movement.  I love the look of the show.  The lighting and camera work is just terrific.  I really like what they’ve done.  It’s very edgy.  I haven’t seen any CW shows, but I believe this is different.  I’m very proud to be a part of something that’s pushing the boundaries for The CW and is trying to get a more mature audience. 

Who is Kane and how did he end up in the position that he’s in?

CUSICK:  We don’t have a lot of his backstory.  You find out the backstory of Jaha and Abby, and you do find out a few things about Kane.  I will say that the character you meet at the beginning of the show is not the same character you meet at the end of the show.  He has a certain journey and a certain arc where he changes.  You get a bit of humanity out of the man.  He’s certainly changed by the end of Season 1. 

Why do you think Kane believes he would be a better leader?

CUSICK:  I think when you’re dealing with saving the human race, and you can see a way to do it that’s not being done, you feel the responsibility.  The onus is on you to say, “I think this is way too important for me to sit in the background and just go with the flow.  I have to speak up and give my opinion.  I know how to save the human race, and it’s by killing these people.  That’s how we’re gonna do it.  If that’s not happening, you’re not doing your duty.”  He’s taking that on because he can see weakness in the leadership.  He’s thinking, “You’re not fit to make that tough decision, but I can make that decision and live with it.”  It is a hard decision.      

Does it feel like you’re doing two different shows, with the people who are in space, and then the kids who are on the ground?

CUSICK:  Oh, totally!  Yes, absolutely!  But, you know we’re gonna meet.  You know we’re gonna come together.  It has to, right?  We’re just waiting for that to happen. 

the-100-henry-ian-cusickWhat’s it been like to work with Paige Turco and Isaiah Washington?

CUSICK:  They’re great.  Terrific.  They are both excellent.  They’re so committed, 100%.  We were playing well, by Episode 12 and 13.  I look forward to work ing with them again. 

Is Kane someone who would want to go to the ground and see what it’s like?

CUSICK:  Yes.  It’s an interesting question because they’ve never been to the ground, but they think of it as home.  You would think that some people, when they go to the ground, think, “I much prefer life on the spaceship.”  There’s no rain.  There’s no cold.  It’s a lot more contained.  For him, he’s always been about getting people to the ground and repopulating the Earth.

Is it fun to be on a show that you never know where things are going?

CUSICK:  It is fun.  When I read Episodes 12 and 13, I went, “Oh, gosh, I can’t wait for the next season to start, so we can get all of that fun stuff to do.”  I’m quite excited by the show.  I think we’re going to have a good time, if it goes a long time.  It will be a lot of fun.  I can’t tell you where things end up, but there’s going to be stuff that makes you go, “Holy shit!  That’s really interesting.”  Where this show can go is going to be really cool. 

As an actor, do you like not knowing, or is that a bit of an adjustment?

CUSICK:  I was a theater actor back in the UK, and you knew the whole play, so you could plot your storyline and character.  And then, I did Lost and didn’t know, and it was kind of frustrating, but I enjoyed it.  You think you know where you’re going, but then it changes.  You just have to have faith in the writers.  If they’re doing a good job, you go with it.  So, it’s something that I thought I would hate, but I kind of like it.

The 100 airs on Wednesday nights on The CW.


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