Interviews

Chelsey Reist – The 100

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By: Lisa Steinberg

 

Q) There are characters like Raven who constantly take beatings, but she doesn’t let it hinder her. As an actor on the show and a fan, do you become protective of characters as well?

A) Yes. There are certain characters that I contacted the actors after reading the script and said, “Holy crap! I can’t believe you have to do that! I can’t believe this is going to happen to you!” I just have full faith they are going to pull it off, but yes, I get protective. I get protective not just of the characters, but the actors because it is pretty grueling work. [Side Note:] Obviously, I was a fan of the show and really enjoy being on it. I’ve always found the actors to be really, really great and I expect nothing less of them. But this season has put their characters through so much that I am truly a fan of their work. For Devon Bostick, he has gone through so much turmoil and he raises the bar. His acting has been phenomenal. Really bad things happen, but it shows me what phenomenal actors they are. And now not only are they my friends, but I am a fan of theirs as well. I find myself wanting to reach through the scene, pause it and hold them because you can tell they are going through such turmoil. I feel like when season three started everyone is now reeling back and there is a little bit of time to let these characters breathe. We’re seeing how they have been impacted by having to be so hard now that they are on the ground. We’re able to see them on a new ground and depth and they really pull at my heart.

Q) Your character is one of those who is much like Raven where she is constantly being tested and going through these hardships. In episode one, it is like the Bellamy Blake Fight Club. How will we see Harper be leveling up this season?

A) We started seeing her in fight training at the opening of season three. Right off the bat she was leveling up. We filmed a really fun fight scene between Harper and Monroe, but it got cut. It was a friendly fight scene! Right off the bat, the writers are letting Harper have her strength back and I really admire that. Harper is really very resilient and she has been through so much. Had that scene not been cut, yes, we would have seen her audacity coming back and rising to the occasion. I can’t say too much without spoiling, but Harper will have to choose sides this season. There is a movement that may pull groups apart that makes each character question their morality. Harper will be faced with a really tough question as to what type of person can she live with being now. There is some tough stuff ahead for her, for sure.

Q) A war is coming, not just an actual war, but one between Harper and these choices. A war between your friends, family and the ties you have been bound to. How will that be a running theme this season?

A) It’s funny you say that because I definitely noticed that already. What I find intriguing was the City of Light. It’s a war within one’s self. It’s a comment on escapism. So far, we know the City of Light offers no pain, no death or fear. It unburdened Jaha (Isaiah Washington) with the loss of his son and who wouldn’t be tempted to choose such an escape if the option were available? So, it does become a war with oneself. So, I think the question would be is it better to live with our experiences and truly feel them or is it better to be relieved? And is seeking that relief cheating ourselves of life? So, the City of Light is a hot topic in the first two episodes and it is going to continue to explore those questions and that war within ourselves.

Q) Will what happened last season at Mount Weather continue to haunt her and affect her this season?

A) I would say for Harper that where we are painted now…Harper was bad up in the sky, she was a juvenile delinquent, she was arrested and punished. She never knew pain like this though – the life or death experience that she had at Mount Weather. Her stakes are forever more changed. All her stakes are much higher. It’s kind of sad because I feel Harper is hardened now. She was really, really hardened. After her recent trauma, it’s hard to feel vulnerable, accept help, feel love and be loved when everything feels like life or death now. So, she has a chip on her shoulder and she is looking over her shoulder. It’s just a new way of surviving. It’s a new marker.

Q) Does she feel unworthy of love or just that it is hard to let her guard down again?

A) I think the alliances in this world are always changing and peoples’ allegiances are changing and that she doesn’t even know who she could trust if she were to begin to want to. I think she has been quite hardened and she is a guard. She is an Arker – an a Ark guard and a gunner. That level of needing to be constantly alert, constantly engaged and constantly aware will wear on her. There will be a breaking point where she just might crumble and turn to another for support.

Q) There are a lot of fans that have head canons and memes going around about your character with Monroe or Lincoln. Do you get a kick out of seeing these fan created items?

A) Oh yeah! Of course I do! There are some things I never would have thought of. There are some things where I go, “That would make sense,” or “That would be neat!” Sometimes they might be hitting a little close to home so I have to stay quiet or veer them off course. Katie [Stuart] is a really, really dear friend of mine. We have so much fun together on set that I find myself having to continually remind myself to be professional because we just get the giggles. We love messaging with fans on Twitter. I think it’s great! I like that there are so many different ideas and options that I didn’t see – from a heterosexual point of view and a homosexual point of view. I just love it all and I wish I could explore them all! I think it would be so fun!

Q) On the show, there are no labels. What I love about the show is that it is not a focus or agenda. There are these characters who want to explore whoever or whatever they want to explore, which is inspirational.

A) I agree. I think we are in a time now where it is time to dissolve labels in terms of gender and sexuality. The show really embraces that by not making it a big deal. A lesbian kiss isn’t glamorized and the characters don’t leave a love scene feeling ashamed. It’s just natural to them. It’s very sincere. Everyone is looking for a connection in a world that is so disconnected right now and so disjointed. It doesn’t matter what type of love it is. It’s about the connection and I think it is a current theme that needs to be brought about in our culture. And we’re just helping with that fight.

Q) What has been your favorite aspect to Harper and her development?

A) It’s hard to explain without giving too much away. First off, from Chelsey’s point of view, I’m so grateful to be a part of season three. With you saying the show continues to blow you away, I have to agree. This season is relentless and it’s intricate. They are going in depth with everyone’s relationship and everyone’s journey, which is why we didn’t seen Harper in the last episode because there are so many characters and so many points of view. So, some of us have to sit on the sidelines while they explore that. She’ll be back and I have to say, which I kind of mentioned before, I really like her journey from (what I would consider) an innocent on the ark to someone now who has been on the brink of death, held captive, tortured and had to choose if she was going to be strong enough to come back from that. She chose to rise to the occasion. It’s easy for me, Chelsey, to want to throw in the towel. But everyone has been through such hard situations. So, I have really enjoyed that the writers have given her the chance to be a strong person and strong female that she can rise to the occasion and come back from the brink. She is ready to fight and ready to be present.

Q) What was your initial reaction to the season three trailer?

A) I remember when the season three trailer came out and Dean White (our director, EP and supervising producer) was on set. I snuck a peek of it on his laptop and I was in the back behind ten people with my hand over my mouth. I just could not believe how good the season three trailer looked! The show has always dealt with adult issues, but season three is grown up. It’s gone from a younger audience (maybe in the beginning) to these grandiose themes and sets. The budget looks huge and our cinematography looks amazing! It looks like a feature film to me. It looks like Lord of the Rings to me and I just remember being blown away by the trailer. It’s no doubt that when the episodes premiere it’s going to blow us all away too. The reactions you had to the screeners, I have those when I read the script at home. I’m screaming out loud! I get so deep in it. Every scene and every take that they play on set that I get a peek at – I’m floored! As a lover of film, it’s such an honor to be on a project that takes the look so serious. I get so excited even talking about it!

Q) What is your first memory of being a part of the series?

A) I have two things that come to mind. Originally, I was only hired for one episode. I was supposed to die at the end of the episode. I showed up, filmed the day and then they said, “That’s a wrap!” I thought, “Um, no. We haven’t filmed my death yet.” They just brushed it off and said we were moving on. I had no idea what that meant. So, I got home and called my agent to say, “I don’t know where this is going!” So, that was pretty fabulous and then weeks later they called me back for more. It was a fantastic first day and for an actor that’s pretty unheard of and pretty lucky. Then, another memory comes to mind was I had been joining episode ten in season one so it was a cast and crew that had been around each other for months. I had a scene where Harper was hitting on Jasper and we were organizing bullets in a tent with Lindsey and Bob [Morley]. I went home and Lindsey Morgan (who is a dear friend of mine now) went to the trouble to find my email address and took time out of her day to message me to say that she thought I did such a great job and she knows that coming on set as a guest star when everyone knows each other can be difficult. So, she just wanted to congratulate me. It was just so sweet and I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone do that. To me, she was just this big star on this big show so I felt so flattered.

Q) What do you hope fans take away from watching season three of “The 100?”

A) I am such a fan of the fans. The fandom for the show is so surreal that it is unlike anything I have experienced before. They are not afraid to use their voice to support the show or question the show. You see them reach out on Twitter and I love that. We’re so lucky to have such passionate fans because we do pour our passion into the show. I’m just so shocked and inspired when they recognize me or my work. I would want to share that I appreciate them, I see them and I should warn them that they are in for a few panic attacks because this season is relentless. Someone recently tweeted me that they couldn’t breathe during the show because they are just so full of anxiety. I think that is a really cool thing to take away from the show – don’t be afraid to feel. It really pushes some people into some spots that are of total discomfort to them and I think it is brave for them to stick with the show and to ride with those feelings.

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