'The 100' Exclusive Interview: Ricky Whittle on the Grounder, Affection for Octavia and Insight into Grounder Society
'The 100' Exclusive Interview: Ricky Whittle on the Grounder, Affection for Octavia and Insight into Grounder Society
Carla Day
Carla Day
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
The situation got rough in the 100's camp last week after the Grounders killed a few of their own and Finn was stabbed. Bellamy (Bob Morley) brought the Grounder (Ricky Whittle) who protected them and Octavia to the drop ship for questioning. He wanted answers.

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When Finn was poisoned by the Grounder's knife, they turned to torture for answers, only it didn't work. It was Octavia's sacrifice that led to the Grounder revealing the cure. It was a dark and powerful hour.

I spoke with Ricky Whittle on the phone about the experience of filming the torture scenes. He also provided insight into the Grounder himself, his knowledge of English, attraction to Octavia, and the larger Grounder society. Read on for edited excerpts from our conversation.

How difficult was it to film the torture scenes?

It was actually painful doing it. I think the thing about this cast is we're all trying to challenge each other from Richard Harmon (Murphy) doing the hanging scenes and myself being tortured and that stuff in [episode] 7. Obviously, I'm never going to know what it's like to be strung up for days on end, so when we actually filmed, I chose to stay in those restraints just to feel a bit of that tiredness. It's really draining being up there. What they put that Grounder through really is quite traumatic. I actually left that episode with a few burn marks on my wrists and a few scratches on my torso.

Which was worse acting out the torture scenes or the physicality of having to stand like that?

It's a bit of both really. It's such a dark experience really. We really had to take ourselves to a dark place. I think the way it was lit, it was such a dark set and so enclosed. The crew were there, it was was tight space. Make up had done a fantastic job -- make up and hair and costumes -- of making us looking so disheveled and worn out. It really was draining. 

Bob Morley's (Bellamy) one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet and so that shows how fantastic a job he did playing Bellamy. He had to take himself to a really dark place where he felt he had to do something in order to extract the information needed to save Finn's life. He was in a dark place and I had to myself be in a dark place. Obviously, to make sure the Grounder keeps all these secrets in.

On the Grounder

I think as we've seen through glimpses of the series so far that the Grounder ... really is an observer and he does stand out as a bit of a loner. We've seen various types of Grounders and they all have a different agendas as in normal daily life. That's the fantastic thing that shows deep characters with various -- they have so many different layers. There's no good and no bad. 

We've seen Clarke have to struggle who is genuinely a good person who's true and she's had everyone's best interest at heart and she had to go to a dark place this episode just gone. And you've seen Kane and Bellamy do the exact opposite. The same with the Grounders. 

What is it about Octavia that draws the Grounder to him?

We don't know why he's taken an interest in Octavia just yet, but I guess it's about her spirit. You're going to learn more and more about the Grounder and what he thinks he sees in Octavia. There is a connection there as we can clearly see and he's been very protective of her. And then she came back and proved her value to him as well by cutting herself and showing what she's worth. 

She's not just a pretty little girl, a pretty little sister of Bellamy, who's just going to be running through the forest chasing butterflies. She's going to see her own arc develop here and you'll see an inner strength come from her and this character and more levels in her than the Grounder has seen in his observations of her.

The Grounder is a loner, so how does he fit into the larger grounder society?

He is a bit of a loner in his people. The grounders are like any race and in any society there are different levels. We're going to really dig deep in the grounder society and find out that there are different types. We've seen the warriors running through the forest and obviously they are warriors for a reason. Jason Rothenberg, our fantastic producer, has touched on it before that they're warriors and they were fighting something before the 100 landed here on Earth. They weren't suddenly made warriors in the last couple days. There's a lot out there and the Grounder who's been capture will be a gateway into this world the 100 have fallen into. 

I think you saw a little bit throughout his cave in episode 6 that he's a bit of a hoarder and collector. He really is connected to the previous world that we live in now. You have see various parts of technology that we have in our world today that is alien to him. Obviously, there's no technology, but there's various bits of electrical equipment, souvenirs and bits and bobs in his cave. He's fascinated. 

He's fascinated with the technology that the 100 brought down. They don't have electricity down on Earth and yet this space ship has landed and they have electricity, they have lights, they have possibly have information that could actually help the grounders. Could these two societies, these two communities become one. Could they help each other? Could they learn from each other? Or are they just going to carry on fighting and making the other extinct? It's a fantastic battle and it's going to be played out throughout the rest of the season as to which way they're gonna go.

When Raven was going to electrify him, he appeared to be unfamiliar with electricity at all. Is that the correct takeaway from the scene?

Yeah. That was a choice I made. He's obviously a warrior in his society. His costume is filled with weapons and things for survival and you can see from his body that the scars, the torture, the trauma his body has received -- they're not recent scars, there's old scars, new scars, there's various types of scars, so I felt he was no stranger to the type of torture that Bellamy put him through. 

But, when Raven took the electricity cables from the drop ship, this spark, this alien thing was new to him. That was a very new thing for him. I felt he needed to display some kind of surprise of what is this new thing. To have what essentially to him looks like a bit of rope suddenly send a really traumatic surge through his body and it's a new pain that I had to express. It really was great writing from our writing team and producer that show that they are world's apart. There's going to be new things introduced to the grounders as the 100 learn more about the grounders too.

At the end of last week's episode, Lincoln says "thank you" to Octavia. Did he parrot her "thank you" back to him? Or does he understand English? In the clip when Octavia calls Bellamy "a dick," the Grounder has a really nice smirk.

[Laughs] I think this is one of the fantastic things that our writers and producer have come up with. It's feeding you information and left it there. It's kinda like, does he understand? Does he understand completely? Or is he as you said just parroting words that he's heard her and the others say? 

As the new episode comes up, you're going to see that they are a very intelligent breed. They are completely -- they can understand and communicate. There is a whole community there of grounders and you're going to see various types of education and kind of positions in their hierarchy. 

You're never going to see him spout lyrics from Shakespeare. He's not going to have monologues and things, he's going to be very withdrawn and very strong in silence because that's his way and his personality. You'll see him draw closer to Octavia and really try and learn more about her and her people. He's an observer. I guess in life you're born with two ears and one mouth and you learn a lot more from listening than talking, so that's his philosophy and he's very much a silent observer and takes is all in and learns a lot more from what they're saying than he does speaking.

On what's coming up

The CW has really allowed The 100 to go really dark and really experiment with humanity and sacrifice and the quest for survival. You'll see a lot more throughout the season. I'm lucky enough to know what does happen later on and I think this is just a glimpse of how dark and how intertwined the worlds are and how complicated this show can get. Even up to the season finale, we're on the cusp of creating something incredible. 

People often try and describe it. It's Lord of the Flies meets Lost meets Hunger Games meets this and I think that's just a way of describing the feel of the show to fan. I think what we're establishing here is a whole new show on its own. 

I really think leading up to the season finale, you're going to see one of the best endings to the show that I've ever seen on TV. It really is epic. It's a roller coaster with so many twists and turns that I'm excited to see it, nevermind the fans and I've read the scripts. If the fans are really enjoying the show so far than they really need to hold on to their hats because it's about to get really epic.

It is really, really dark. Is there any hope or light that we'll see especially with the battle coming?

There will be hope in there. There's going to be love, friendships, reunions, deaths. It's got a little bit of everything. You can't just have a dark show. No one's going to watch a show that's constantly depressing, but then again you have to have that bit of drama, that bit of angst and things to really push the show forward and push barriers.

The 100 airs Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on the CW.

(Image courtesy of the CW.)

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