Teens on sci-fi survivor mission
Think The Hunger Games meets About Earth and you'll have some idea of new US post-apocalyptic sci-fi series The 100.
A century after humanity's virtual Armageddon, 100 juvenile offender teens are blasted back to Earth from a space station to test if the planet is fit for habitation. They quickly discover that if they manage to avoid killing each other, mutated flora and fauna could easily do the job for them.
Australian actress Eliza Taylor (best known as Janae Hoyland Timmins in Neighbours) plays Clarke, one of the leaders of the young explorers. She admits she was about to give up on her Hollywood dream when the opportunity to star in the show came along.
"I was living in a hostel in LA when my credit card was skimmed by a taxi driver. Someone stole my identity and spent a whole lot of money at Home Depot and 7-Eleven. It wasn't even on cool stuff.
"I was about ready to pack up when my manager sent me the script. I read it and, honestly, it read like a feature film. I immediately said yes."
Another draw for Taylor was that doing a sci-fi series would seriously impress her mother back in Melbourne.
"She's a huge Trekkie. I grew up watching Star Trek. She's so proud, telling everyone I'm in a sci-fi show."
Fellow Aussie Bobby Morley (another former Neighbours star) says he loves the physical nature of The 100.
"There are lots of special effects and stunts - it's quite action-packed. It is funny when you have to react to mutated animals which on set is an assistant director running across in front of you. It is hard not to laugh sometimes.
"However, it is also amazing what they can recreate inside the studios, there's soil everywhere."
Apart from the sometimes freezing temperatures experienced while on location in British Columbia, Morley says the biggest difference between an Australian production and this was the catering.
"I've only had a kettle provided on other shows, here there's a tent full of food."
One actress who feels very much at home on set is Canadian-born Marie Avgeropoulos. Best known to the world as Twilight-star Taylor Lautner's current squeeze, the 27-year-old spent a lot of time outdoors while growing up.
"To me this show is like one big long camping trip."
Asked if she has taken on a leadership role (as her character Octavia does on the show), Avgeropoulos says she offered up lots of little tips and tricks to her less experienced castmates.
"Things like how you should always hold open the 'Canadian Door' for the person behind you. That means hanging onto a tree branch so it doesn't whack the next person in the face."
She wasn't adverse to a bit of pranking either.
"It's always fun to throw things into the bush to scare people if you're filming night scenes in the middle of nowhere or tell people that there are bears the size of cars around the shoot.
"'Oh, and did you just pee over there? You do realise you touched a poisonous plant that's going to give you a terrible rash?"'
Avgeropoulos says she is loving going to work to be a big kid and play make-believe.
"I also love it when I turn the page of the latest script and think, 'wow, the audience is not going to expect this one coming'. And there is a lot of that."
She is also at pains to point out that all the cast were prepared to suffer for their art.
"We had no cellphone coverage all season long, worked 16 to 18-hour days sometimes and we haven't changed our wardrobes once - we're nitty, gritty and dirty.
The 100 debuts from 6pm on Friday on TVNZ OnDemand.