Isaiah Washington back in The 100
Seven years after his acrimonious departure from hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy, Isaiah Washington is finally back on the small screen in sci-fi series The 100. He talks to James Croot about what drew him back into the fold.
What was it about The 100 that made you want to be a part of it?
The writing - it's always the writing for me. I've always been dreadfully picky as an actor. I'll let my finances go from several thousands of dollars to zero. I'll wait and wait and wait until I find the right project. I have to be confident if I'm going to spend my lifeblood, my time. I had the script for three weeks and I had thought there's nothing more I can say on TV - I've done it, I've been at the pinnacle of success in TV - whatever that's supposed to mean. But then I read it and I was wrong and I'm glad I was wrong. I'm glad my wife said "you have to read this".
It's been said that the show (set on a post-apocalyptic, long-since abandoned Earth) has something of an environmental message. Do you subscribe to that theory?
I think it has a plethora of messages, but they don't punch you in the nose like Spike Lee (Washington's old collaborator on films like Clockers and Crooklyn) did - "Pow - get the message". You don't have to do it 90s style now, you just put it out there and let the people decide. However, sometimes in TV you gotta be on the nose, because the audience has ADD or they go to the restroom, come back and get lost.
What was the toughest challenge of bringing the character of the show's nominal leader Chancellor Thelonius Jaha to life?
Emotionally it's been mind-blistering - I'm worn out. But that's the job I signed on for. I wanted the challenge of not just saying the lines. I'm working on a different kind of acting - less is more. I want people to actually believe what is happening without a shadow of a doubt. Forget about the acting, storytelling and all that jazz and you fall into this world. I'm hoping, in the great words of DMX, that "people feel me".
So, to that end, did you have much say in the character's development?
Jason (Rothenberg, the series' creator) talked to all of us about what we thought of our character and actually adhered to our opinions. That never happens - I thought I'd died when I was invited into the writers room like that. The only other time was on a medical show I was on, but only after some time, and that turned out to be a hit.
The 100, 1.30pm, Sundays, TV2