What happens when you put a rebel in a truly dangerous situation in a hostile environment? He may just surprise you and step up to the challenge simply out of necessity. In the new CW series THE 100, this is the unexpected journey of Finn Collins (Thomas McDonell). On the space station known as the Ark, he could afford to be a wild rebel, but once banished to Earth, the stakes have changed dramatically and he must either step up or get killed by an environment he was never prepared to live amongst.
In a press interview at the Warner Bros. Mondo Television International Press Tour, star Thomas McDonell talked about some of the challenges his character Finn faces upon arriving on Earth.
What can you tell us about Finn and his relationship with his comrades on Earth once things kind of get going? We have heard the show described as kind of like “Lord of the Flies.” Is it that really brutal or is some friendship developing?
THOMAS: There is all that. There’s friendship, and there’s brutality. But to answer sort of the first part of your question, Finn has taken an unexpected turn. Where, in the beginning, it seemed like he was going to be this wild, reckless kind of person, very unpredictable, all that, the circumstances and the sort of gravity of the situation on Earth has changed that, and he starts to take on responsibility.
Does Finn want to be a leader? Does he want to be an example for everybody else?
THOMAS: It’s not so much of a leader role as it is trying to do the right thing. One sort of good way of putting it was, Finn, where he once was the kind of person who would eventually, you hope, end up doing the right thing, now he’s setting out to do the right thing. Not accidentally.
Can you talk a little about how the show evolves after the pilot and throughout the season?
THOMAS: One really important thing to the story is that when they get [to Earth], everyone expects that no one has survived the nuclear apocalypse and that they will arrive and they will be alone — and that’s not the case. I don’t want to say too much about it, but they discover that they are not alone, and then drama ensues.
What interested you to play this kind of role?
THOMAS: Sort of the first thing that I was saying about recklessness and to play a wild character who is also a character that people like and is attractive to people is really fun because you get to ‑‑ for all the reasons that you sort of can imagine, which is a funny answer, I think, sort of because he’s changed a lot. But it’s okay. It’s fun to play a responsible person too. And he’s not a completely different person now. He’s just grown up a little bit.
What is the relationship between your character and the other characters? We have seen that some groups that start forming early on. How does Finn fit into that?
THOMAS: Finn, while he was admired by these other hundred people because of the heroic and sort of brave things that he did up in space, he remains sort of a lone dog. So where there is sort of cliques that form, Finn remains outside of that and is able to sort of move between them freely.
Do you like to watch TV shows on DVD or online?
THOMAS: I thought it was great to be able to watch HOUSE OF CARDS like that, and I did that. I watched it straight through. It was fantastic. That’s the only time I’ve ever done that. But presumably, it would be good to do that more, I think. So yeah.
Are you a sci‑fi fan, and how do you get into the character?
THOMAS: I’m a big sci‑fi fan. I love the idea of science‑fiction and fiction in general and science alone. All three of those things I like. [In THE 100] they’re up in space, and none of them were born on Earth. So they’ve been living in space and that’s all they know. They’ve never breathed real air or been submerged in water or eaten real fruit or anything like that, all these really fundamental human experiences. So even just thinking about a banana or biting into an apple, you can kind of get your mind going about what it would be like maybe to breathe real air for the first time, things like that. That works pretty well about getting into character. Everything is new is sort of the idea.
Is there anybody that Finn left behind?
THOMAS: There is. We’re about three‑quarters into shooting this first season, and right now most of the other characters you’ve kind of learned something about, where they’ve come from and their family and that sort of thing, especially the Bellamy character and the Octavia character. There’s a big section of this thing that is about their family and what happened with them. And where there’s been investigation of that stuff with other characters, there has not been with Finn, which, for me, as an actor, is a cool thing because it remains a mysterious environment. So anything can still sort of happen. He’s not locked in.
Are there any romances in THE 100?
THOMAS: There’s a lot. You’d think that it would just be so shocking for them to arrive in that situation, they wouldn’t be able to do anything, and yet they’re all sleeping with each other and smooching all the time.
The show is called THE 100, but is there a possibility that there might not always be one hundred of them on Earth.
THOMAS: Yeah. That number is shrinking pretty steadily. It’s a really harsh environment on Earth. And they are dealing with the toxicity of the natural world and predators and these other people. All that stuff is really dangerous, so people are dying all the time.
To see if Finn can be the hero that everyone needs him to be on Earth, be sure to tune in for the premiere of THE 100 on Wednesday, March 19th at 9:00 p.m. on the CW. Some people are born heroes; others have to choose to be a hero.