Thomas McDonell Interview – The 100 and His Survival Skills

Thomas McDonell The 100 Interview
The cast of The CW's The 100 - Photo by Brendan Meadows © 2013 The CW Network
Thomas McDonell (Prom, The Forbidden Kingdom) plays one of 100 juveniles sent to Earth to repopulate the planet nearly 100 years after a nuclear apocalypse in The CW’s The 100. And although the show won’t be debuting this fall, the network showed off the pilot episode and brought the cast to the 2013 San Diego Comic Con to discuss the sci-fi series.
The Plot: “97 years ago, Earth was devastated by a nuclear apocalypse, and mankind was nearly destroyed. The only survivors were the inhabitants of 12 international space stations that were in orbit at the time. The stations came together to form the Ark, but with resources dwindling and population growth soaring, the decision is made to send The 100, a group of juvenile delinquents, to the surface to test whether Earth is once again habitable.”

Thomas McDonell The 100 Interview:

Series creator Jason Rothenberg said he had to lure you to come to the show and that it took you a while to sign on. What was the hesitation?
Thomas McDonell: “Yeah, the truth is that it was TV [and] it didn’t really occur to me that I would want on TV. I really liked working on movies and I was having a really good time, and I wanted to work on more movies. I worked on a little bit of TV but it occurred to me when I was doing that, that there’s something really different sometimes about TV. It’s like things seemed less grave or important. When you’re working on a movie, you only have so much time to do something and so you’ve really got to do it right. When you work on TV, it feels a little bit more like if you don’t get it here, you will figure it out later, which has its own benefits. But, that was basically the reason. I was wooed eventually.”
What was the selling point eventually?
Thomas McDonell: “Yeah, the character was an attractive one to play, play the part. So that was I suppose if you were to rank them, that would be the number one thing. But, also people are talking a lot about science fiction, the genre, because that’s what this is all about. Not science fiction particularly, but you know what I mean, so that was something that I was attracted to about it, specifically thinking about and talking about space and the relationship that people have to the planet. Those big ideas.”
How would you describe this character and what do you like about him?
Thomas McDonell: “What I like about him is that … it’s funny to do these things because I feel like I want to say the thing that I have been talking about which is on my mind, which is that he’s unpredictable. His name is Fin, so Fin is really unpredictable guy which is a lot of fun to do that kind of thing as an actor because it affords you a lot of space and latitude to be able to do whatever you want to do all the time. Sometimes it feels that way and sometimes it feels like you’re working on a TV show. But yeah, to answer your question Fin is like an unpredictable kind of guy.”
How much input did you have in creating him?
Thomas McDonell: “We worked together on it. He’s there; he’s written out but it really felt like if I ever wanted to do something I could or make a change. But once we sort of locked him in or got an idea about who he was going to be, we pretty much agreed on it and there was not a notion of changing. Like I said, it’s just to play an unpredictable kind of character, anything that’s been happening all the time and so it sort of built into that.
Does that make sense? Do you know what I mean? Like I guess unpredictable is a pretty broad way of describing a character. I mean I could say that he is meant to be 18 years old and a juvenile delinquent and stuff, but the thing that is most interesting to me about him is that he goes his own way, does what he wants.”
As an actor, would you prefer to know more about your character’s future or learn it as things come along?
Thomas McDonell: “That’s a good question. It’s really useful to know about the past. To know about the future is less practical and useful, so I don’t mind not knowing as they continue to build the thing out. Get new ideas based on the work that we do, you know? That’s cool. I think it’s better to be able to be flexible enough to see something as we make it and then adjust to make something even better, instead of trying to be strict and stay really on one line.”
How do you think you would handle life as one of the 100? Are you good at camping? Would you survive out in the woods?
Thomas McDonell: “I’m good at camping, I’m not sure I’m that good at camping. [Laughing] The thing about these guys is when they arrive on Earth, it’s the first time for everybody so they sort of have the skills necessary to deal with it but they sort of don’t – and that’s something that is supposed to be fun to watch. Figuring it out, you know? So I think I could probably deal with it. I mean, the idea that it’s totally brand new, breathing real air for the first time.”
How do you think Fin will interact with the rest of the group sent to Earth?
Thomas McDonell: “I think that there will be beef and there will be romance. There’s already a little bit of all that stuff in the first episode pilot, but I think it will probably escalate. I think that Fin and Clark will probably get along more and more. Maybe not get along with other people…”

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