A mother’s love is tested when Abigail Griffin (Paige Turco) must put her daughter’s life on the line in order to save the human race. In the new CW series THE 100, Abigail has come up with a high-risk plan that just might answer all their prayers, but it means sending her own daughter back to Earth, which is still radiation-infested after a nuclear holocaust.
In a press interview at the Warner Bros. Mondo Television International Press Tour, star Paige Turco talked about Abigail’s tough choice and the fun of finally getting to work on a sci-fi show.
Can you talk a little bit about Abigail, kind of her role both on the Ark and mother of Clarke (Eliza Taylor), the girl who goes to Earth?
PAIGE: She’s pretty incredible. I mean, I have to think so; right? But she’s that wonderful balance of strength and vulnerability. In the bigger picture of what we’re dealing with and what she’s dealing with, there’s a lot of murky political machinations going on in the ship. She’s somebody who is not afraid to speak the truth and for the greater good for the future of humanity, she develops kind of a Mother Mary mission. And the bracelets [that the teens wear] are brutal, actually. They have needles that go in so we can read vital signs when the kids go down to Earth. And the difficulty is that [Abigail’s] sending her own daughter. So she has this mission going on. She knows how important it is for the future. But, at the same time, it’s her daughter. So there’s that – which is wonderful, as an actress, to play — but that horrible pull for the greater good versus, “Oh, my, this is my child.” But Abby is very cool that way. She’s very smart, and I think she’s got a really great moral compass if we look at the show in terms of a wheel. So that’s always fun to play. But, wow, it’s intense. The things that she has to deal with and everybody has to deal with. It’s pretty intense.
Abigail not only creates this mission and sets it up and sacrifices her daughter to do it, she then also has to navigate the thorny politics back on the Ark as the air supply and everything else is running out.
PAIGE: That’s why they send the hundred down, because of that, and because [Clarke] does know — and she knows for a variety of reasons. There’s some things that I don’t want to spoil, so I’m being a little careful here not to reveal too much. But very much so. The politics, as you can imagine on a ship that’s running out of air, the crimes don’t have to be that horrendous to be floated or to be executed. Those are the rules because there’s no room, there’s no space, there’s no air, and there’s no food.
How much story is about Abigail and Clarke, the family drama?
PAIGE: Because [Clarke’s] on Earth, and at the end of the pilot, we lose verbal contact, though we still have vital signs through the medical bracelets. Abigail’s husband is dead. He was floated for a crime. So that’s a huge part of their relationship and as the show goes on, it is explored. We do explore their backstory. One of the fascinating things is that all of our characters have known each other forever. I mean, generation after generation. There’s nowhere to go. So you really do know everybody in one way or another, depending on what station you’re at. But you all interact together. So there are tons of backstories. And even with Chancellor Jaha (Isaiah Washington), Abigail has a backstory with him. It’s an interesting thing to play as an actress: that you know everyone. You’re kind of claustrophobic, trapped on a ship, in a bizarre way.
Could you talk about the balance of the sci-fi and human relationships both on Earth and the Ark?
PAIGE: I have to say one of the things that I really love about the show is it is character‑driven. It is very human. I think there’s a really nice balance of the sci‑fi with all the technological, the gadgets, and the bigger high stakes of the ship falling apart. But there is a really nice human element. So it explores both. I think there’s a good balance, and I think all of the actors have tried to do that. The writers have integrated that very well I think for sci‑fi. I think there’s a lot of heart to it.
So what’s behind the idea of sending a bunch of delinquents to repopulate Earth?
PAIGE: Because the Ark is failing ‑‑ we have a certain amount of time before we’re going to lose oxygen. So I think politically, the only way to do that, it helps the other people on the ship if you float people. You don’t have a prison. You float them. It’s more oxygen for the people who are not committing crimes. . . With the children, because we’re not sure exactly if Earth’s habitable and we don’t know if it’s still toxic, we don’t know if you can breathe the air. We don’t know any of that. So really it gives the kids as well ‑‑ now, this might just be my character’s point of view as a woman because it’s so horrible, actually — it gives them a chance to live. Because eventually they would be floated. They’d be executed anyhow. So I think Abigail’s point of view as a mom ‑‑ since it’s her daughter she’s sending down ‑‑ she has a tremendous amount of faith and hope that this will be a positive thing and that it will be habitable and the kids will be fine. That’s another thing about why I was drawn to this role. Abigail is hope. Across the board on the ship, she is hope. She’s a mom. Whether she has to have hope or not because it’s her kid doesn’t matter. She still has hope. And you see, as the series goes on, she really fights for what she believes in. She has a tremendous amount of faith, not to get too biblical. I mean, it’s called the Ark. There are a lot of biblical references and character-wise and where we all kind of fit. Not specifics, but a lot of Mother Mary and this one and combined with this one. It’s very interesting. It’s fascinating.
What drew you to this show?
PAIGE: I think I was drawn once I read the script. I thought it was great. It was suspenseful enough for me, sitting and reading it, to go, “Oh, this is cool.” I’ve been working on another show called PERSON OF INTEREST and she’s very Catwoman-y and sexy. So when I read this, I thought, “Wow, this is cool.” We all have our list as actors of things we want to play. And I had never done sci‑fi. I loved that Abigail really was one of the only women on the ship and that she was in a man’s job, position, but still vulnerable. So she was multifaceted for me. And sometimes you read things, and you just connect. There’s something about her. It was her heart and how she treated her daughter and loss. I identify with that. So I thought it was fun. A little scary in the middle of it. I remember my husband sitting next to me, and I was like, “Oh, no!” as I read the script, and when that happens, you go, “Oh, this is going to be really cool.”
What made you want to work on a sci‑fi show?
PAIGE: I have to say, I didn’t know too much. I hadn’t watched a lot of sci‑fi. My husband is a huge sci‑fi guy. So I thought it would be cool because my husband was on TERRA NOVA. And I would watch the show, and that’s how I started ‑‑ after watching TERRA NOVA I think I became fascinated with it and I thought, “Wow, that would be fun.” Because the stakes are much higher really, when you think about it, and it’s a little off the charts. I thought, “Wow, that could be really fun.” And I’m learning more and more, I must say. I’m learning. I did have a moment at the end of the pilot where I’m all strong, and I’m walking out of the door, and I walk by Isaiah, and I go to hit the door, and the door doesn’t open. And I hear giggles. I hear, “You’re on a spaceship. Step back, and they’ll open by themselves.” I was like, “Oh, my.” I felt very silly. So I’m still learning. (Laughs)
Your husband had shot a couple of futuristic TV shows.
PAIGE: I think maybe I got jealous and said, “Hey, it’s time for me to do it.”
Does he tease you about “Oh, honey, it’s your shot now. We’ll see how you will do it”?
PAIGE: Yeah, what he teases me. Sometimes I’ll ask him questions, and he’ll go, “Oh, come on, really?” And I’m like, “Just guide me.” And he said, “There are rules to sci‑fi.” And I said, “I’m aware of it. Don’t break those rules.” So sometimes he’ll read the scripts for me, and just in terms of that, he’ll go, “That might need a little tweak.” And then I’m like, “It’s my show. Go away. ” But, yes, he does.
So what are the rules?
PAIGE: Some of the rules are for us on our ship: if you commit a crime, you will be floated. Technological “rules” is kind of broad, but if you use this particular kind of phone, let’s say, to contact someone across the ship, you’re not going to change it up and use another kind of phone. Or our monitoring station, there’s an intercom within the ship. So we needed to establish that and where the cameras are. So you’re not supposed to mess with all that. And I can’t even give you a good example because our show has been pretty good about it. Now, I’m sure sci‑fi fans out there will find something. I am getting there. I’m trying. But that’s what’s fun.
To find out if Abigail ultimately regrets her decision to sacrifice her own daughter or is simply proud of what Clarke ultimately accomplishes, be sure to tune in for the premiere of THE 100 on Wednesday, March 19th at 9:00 p.m. on the CW.