The 100's Richard Harmon isn't sure if he's rubbed off on his character — Murphy, the villain-turned-anti-hero whose level of sass and give no f***s attitude has inspired gifs galore amongst the show's impressive social media fanbase — or if his character has rubbed off on him.
He debates it as we chat about the sci-fi series' sixth season, which resets some major storylines as the former delinquents find a new planet to call home, and a community with plenty of skeletons to hide. The show's latest run kicked off with the momentary death of Murphy, a character fans lovingly refer to as a cockroach of all things thanks to his obvious survival instincts — he's made it through two world-ending apocalypses, after all.
That experience has pushed Murphy to make some questionable choices over the past few episodes — most notably, deciding to partner with a new threat to the group's safety who's currently walking around in the skin suit of their leader, Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor).
SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS spoke with Harmon about Murphy's mindset going forward, the danger this new character poses, and why he wants to break up a long-running ship on the show.
Murphy goes through hell every season, but the show took things literal this year with his temporary death. How much is that experience going to factor into what Murphy does next?
I think it's what's going to drive it going forward. He's a very weak, broken man because of what happened to him — the temporary death and all that. He's not the best version of himself right now and that's understandable. So, I think he's impressionable; he's looking for a way to save himself and this presented itself in a way that he couldn't say no, even if he wanted to.
Did the writers give you clues as to what Murphy saw when he died that terrified him so much?
No, they kind of just left that up to me and my own imagination. I think I pictured it less as a visual and more like this feeling, this dread.
Yeah, I would think he's realized that now. No matter what he does, the result is the same for all of us … except now there’s the option of immortality, and that sounds pretty damn good to him.
Is this partnership with Josephine real? Is he truly that apathetic about Clarke’s death?
I think you'll have to wait and see if it's a real thing or not as far as the partnership's concerned but ... he cares that Clarke's gone. He doesn't like that. He had his issues with Clarke, Clarke had her issues with him, but they're still family. That doesn't mean that he wanted her dead.
I'm sure he lost at least a little sleep over it. Knowing Murphy, he probably got over it quicker than others because he realized there's nothing he could do about it and now he has to move on and he has to think about not losing himself to the same fate. It's like an interesting game of chess between Josephine and Murphy, even in their partnership. There will always be a changing of the power between them and trying to position themselves to be the one in power. Undoubtedly, Josephine holds the power currently.
What’s it been like working with Eliza Taylor this season as she plays this new character?
It's been incredible. I think we can all see what a great job she's done this season. I said it before the season even aired, this one is for her. I think every season is, she's our leader, she's our captain, but this one, it was specifically lovely on set just to see her be able to let loose and kind of let the chains of Clarke go and be this new character. I remember she and I talked about it multiple times and she was like, ‘Is this what it's like to be you?’ And I was like, ‘Every day.’
She was like, ‘Is this how much fun you have every day?’ And I was like, ‘Every day I get to be Murphy and the chains of morality are unshackled.’ It doesn't matter what he does, in every scene, the audience will buy it every single time because he can do whatever and it always is believable that he might possibly make that decision. He's out of his mind, you're out of your mind, enjoy it, let's be out of our minds together.
Speaking of psychopaths, how is this partnership between Murphy and Josephine going to go? More importantly, how is the group going to handle this betrayal?
I imagine very poorly. I think he'll tell himself white lies or maybe possibly even truths that he's doing what he's doing in order to save them as well, but I think he knows, deep down inside of him, that that's a bit of crap. He’s known the first and foremost reason he's doing this is to save himself. So, he's going to have to atone for that. He's going to have to understand their reactions, and he's going to have to be okay with that, whatever they are.
It sounds like you might be the outsider again. It’s how Murphy started this show. Is it fun to play the bad guy?
I prefer it, for many reasons. Generally, that leads to more interesting scenes. That's the main one. If you're part of the group, then, yeah, you kind of group think it, you're the heroes trying to figure it out. If you're in an odd, moral quandary, they're going to have spend some time with you, with the camera on you, to figure that out. And that's what I love to do. I enjoy that.
That’s been the plan all along, to get more screen time.
Exactly. And that might come off like it's me being like, ‘I want my face on screen more,’ but that's not the case. I want my butt on set more. So that's how we do it.
It’s something I wouldn't have seen coming after Season 1. I remember mild threats was the reception of him then — you know, everything's your fault. I was like, ‘Okay, that's cool,’ but that's the job, that's what you're supposed to do — good, they hate me, that's what we want. And then, I think when Jason [Rothenberg] came up to me with the idea in Season 2 of possibly redeeming him, I was like, ‘Well, yeah, as long as we don't lose who he is,’ because if you just try to make him better, I think people will catch on to that and be smart enough to reject that.
So, I think we did a good job keeping him in line with who he is but showing you more sides of him that are possible to love. It’s one of the transitions that I think I'm very proud of in my career and I can't thank Jason and the writers enough for giving me the opportunity to try to pull that off. So, I don't know why. One of the reasons I can think that maybe they love him is because he says what the audience is thinking, I find most of the time. He says the unfortunate truth.
This wouldn’t be a The 100 interview without talking about ships. Who do you ship Murphy with? Who can handle his bullsh*t the best on the show?
He’s destined to be alone?
I honestly do, in a way, ship him alone. Emori has done so much for him, more than any other character has, in making him who he is. What I want is not because of what the characters want, but what the characters deserve. I want Murphy to be alone mainly for Luisa D'Oliveira who plays Emori, because I think she got brought on to be in my storyline and you guys have watched her work, she doesn't need me.
She doesn't need to be attached to someone's storyline. She's such an incredible actor, she's such a pro. I love working with her, probably more than anyone on the show. I think she deserves her own storyline, honestly, so I think I'd ship myself alone, so that frees her up to interact with more characters and flesh out her character more, which is what she deserves.
Well, Season 7 is in the works. You’ll have to break up with her, so we can get more Emori storylines.
[Laughs] We’ll see.