Exclusive Interview: Isaiah Washington On Season 2 of The 100

Earth Skills

The second season premiere of The CW’s post-apocalyptic drama The 100 aired last Wednesday, revealing exactly what happened to the surviving members of “The Hundred” juvenile prisoners who were sent down to Earth after 97 years of the human race existing on the massive, combined space station named “The Ark”.

In honor of the premiere, cast member Isaiah Washington, who plays Chancellor Thelonious Jaha, the elected leader of The Ark, met with TV Equals that same day to briefly talk about the series.

Washington is known for being tight-lipped on providing spoilers, as he – like a growing number of viewers, fans and even some press members – believes it is better to be surprised, as “I don’t want to spoil it for the audience…because you know how it’s gonna end”. In fact, he joked during the interview that “he (doesn’t) know where that culture started….and (doesn’t) understand how people can read (all) about something (that will happen in their favorite show) and then (they) say “oh yeah, I’ve got to watch that”.

In lieu of spoilers, Washington did share what characteristic about Jaha that he admires most, sharing that, “(it’s) his humanity, that’s where I’m at. He really believes that human beings can be the best they can be based on merit”. He further stated, “(Jaha) strikes me as the kind of guy who isn’t completely black and white but (he views things from a perspective) of what is best in the bigger picture. That’s what I admire the most (about him) and that’s where I’m operating from (when playing the role)”.

When asked what was the most difficult scene to film since the start of the show, Washington shared that it was when Jaha “(found) out that his son Wells died. I (did) not (want) to lose credibility in that moment based on who this guy is. What would happen if the President [in this instance the Chancellor] broke down in front of you, (giving) up the ghost of his power and be that vulnerable? But we did it (in the depiction). He went on to say that, “it was hard for me to measure, not wanting to lose credibility with the audience (but wanting) to make sure that the (viewers) felt it”.

Jumping back to the original process of putting the show together, Washington shared that “he had the script for about three weeks”, but he wasn’t “interested in doing television; I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer”. However, his former manager and his wife convinced him to read the script and after reading the speech that Jaha gives in the pilot (which was much longer in the script than in the final pilot), he was “really turned on by his (Jason Rothenberg, the series creator) writing”.

“I was like, wow! And the…fact that there is an assassination attempt on one of the leads of the show. I was like, wait a minute, c’mon! I felt that this show (has) a different approach to storytelling that intrigued me and then the dangerous thing happened: I became curious. And that was the beginning of that. And I’m still at that place.”

Washington also has admiration for his fellow cast members, sharing that in speaking with Jason and the other producers during the casting process that he believed they had a “wonderful (group) of talent (on the show). “Not only (are they) talented, but beautiful. Intelligent and passionate. Hungry and professional. So (we were) off to a great start.”

While the fate of Chancellor Jaha is still very much up in the air, the season premiere clearly showed that while he is on The Ark, shutting down the systems after numerous failed attempts to contact those who were catapulting themselves to the Earth below, he very well may not be alone. Nor is it unclear if he will not, somehow, find a way to escape his fate of going down with the ship. But viewers will need to tune into the second episode of the second season of ‘The 100’ this Wednesday, October 29 at 9/8c to find out what happens next.