The 100 Interview: Isaiah Washington and Henry Ian Cusick Talk Their Characters Chancellor Jaha and Councillor Kane, and More

the 100 henry ian cusick isaiah washington.jpg

Only a couple of days before The CW’s new series, The 100, makes its premiere on our screen. But in the meantime how about hearing more about the series from two of its stars, Isaiah Washington and Henry Ian Cusick, who play the characters of Chancellor Jaha and Councillor Kane respectively.

Both Washington and Cusick took some time to answer a few questions about The 100 during the WB Mondo press tour. They discussed their characters, favorite parts of the series so far, what attracted them to the series and more.

Below you can find first Isaiah Washington’s interview, followed by Henry Ian Cusick’s.

"Pilot"

ISAIAH WASHINGTON

On his character Chancellor Jaha

Washington described his character, Chancellor Jaha, as “what we know as the chancellor of Germany or the President of the United States or other nations. The space station came together in what was 13 and now 12 parts. Imagine a huge, giant Lego, I mean, the ultimate Lego of 12 space stations from other nations.”

He continued to explain the premise of the show, “Earth has been hurt, and it won’t be survivable technically for 100 years. So that’s where you pick us up. Now, by this time, it’s so diverse on the ship. Maybe the character was a janitor, worked his way up, and was voted in as the Chancellor of the Ark. And what is happening is we find out that we’re running out of resources, and the population is growing. So my character comes out with the idea that I need to make a different plan. And since these delinquents were already in prison for various infractions, we have a zero tolerance policy for bad behavior. We have to in this kind of environment for this long. So I decide to send a hundred delinquents to Earth. And if they survive, then great. I know that we can start making plans for this exodus to move our way back to Earth. For what, we don’t know that. And because we don’t know whether it works or not, a lot of strange things happen. A lot of difficult things happen. A lot of difficult decisions have to be made by me and Ian’s character, who plays basically the vice president, Councillor Kane. And we just are in survivor mode from that point on, waiting to see if Earth is survivable or not, knowing that the clock is ticking.”

On possible injuries and romances for his character

When asked whether his character would possibly get some physical injuries or be involved in a romantic storyline, Washington shared, “There’s some physical injuries, yes, early on. There is some subtleties of relating that sparks early on in the first couple episodes. You just have to track it and figure out where it leads.”

On his experience with the show so far

Washington shared that The 100 “is the toughest, the most intense, the most gratifying, the most challenging assignment I’ve had to date. And if you know anything about my career, that’s putting myself out there with this show.”

On what attracted him to the show

When asked what drove his choice to be in The 100, Washington explained, “It’s personal for me. This show is much more personal for me. It’s closer to who I am as a human being. This is probably the first opportunity where it’s kind of like “No acting, please.” You know, my politics, my idea, my love for humanity, my flaws, my humanness, my perfect imperfection is given a platform to be exhibited, I think, for the first time ever. So as you see this character, you really get a chance to see me as an artist. And I’m grateful and humbled by that. Because of Jason [Rothenberg], I don’t have to do “the thing.” I don’t have to be “that guy.” You know what I mean? I don’t have to be a star, whatever that is. We’re not doing that up there. We’re just trying to tell some really good stories. And at the end of the day, you guys are going to decide whether you love it or hate it. I just feel that a lot of people are going to dig it. A lot of people are going to love it.”

On whether he’s a sci-fi fan

Turns out Washington is not a connoisseur of sci-fi. He shared, “I’m unfortunately, completely ignorant of the sci-fi world as we know it. But I’ve learned quickly, and I try to stay on task. There are a lot of people that have worked for years in Vancouver on science fiction shows. And it is a very serious and a very relevant genre. And because of my short time of being inculcated into that dynamic, I’ve learned something even more about detail and that sci-fi people are, I don’t like using the word “nerds,” but thinkers. And they’re not looking at just one thing, they’re impressed by the whole thing. And if credibility falls short with a character or just the whole thing because of detail in that world, then we’re in trouble. So I am very well aware of that and trying to stay true to that.”

Pilot

HENRY IAN CUSICK

On Councillor Kane vs. Councillor Abigail Griffin

Cusick’s character, Councillor Kane, doesn’t get along with everyone on the Ark and when asked to talk about his relationship with the characters on the show, Cusick shared, “there’s always friction between the three of us, Chancellor Jaha (Isaiah Washington), Councillor Abby (Paige Turco), and my character. So we’re always trying to figure out what’s best and how to proceed, and there’s a lot of disagreements. And there’s an attempt on Jaha’s life, and we don’t know who did it. And then we find out I did do it.” He added, “There’s a lot of intrigue and uncertainty on the spaceship and a very high body count.”

On similarities with his character

Cusick is not very similar to his character, although he did share, “But as the show progresses, you see I do have a nice change. And I’m more like the character towards the end of the show, I think.”

On his favorite scene/moment so far

When asked what his favorite scene or moment in the show so far, Cusick said, “there’s an episode coming up, the next episode, which I just read. I think that’s probably my favorite episode. It’s 111. I can’t really tell you too much about it because we’re coming to the end of the season. We only do 13 episodes. But that will be a lot of action. There’s also another scene, which I’ve never seen before on television, where it’s quite a large catastrophe. And it will be interesting I’ll be curious to know how the audience take to it because even I, reading it and I rarely get surprised by anything was like, “Wow, they’re actually going to do that.” I’ve said way too much.”

On what he likes about working on television

When asked about what attracted him to the role and why he likes working on television, Cusick shared, “I love television. I like working fast. I like the speed of television. I like the immediacy. I like the intensity that television offers. And what I liked about this was that it had a lot of action and it had a potential to ask a lot of big questions. And I like sci-fi. I like big dramas and with high stakes and life and death situations. That, for me, is fun. It’s playing. For me, that’s playing. And I get to work on a spaceship. For me, that’s play. I like that.”

The 100 premieres on Wednesday, March 19th, at 9pm on The CW.

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