Eliza, who played Janae Timmins in Neighbours from 2005 to 2008, stars as the group’s natural leader Clarke.
In this interview with What’s on TV Eliza explains why it’s a risky business dispatching a mob of unsupervised teenagers to an unknown planet full of danger…
It’s an interesting premise. What can you tell us about the 10-part series?
“The 100 is set 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse and sees a group of juvenile offenders sent down to Earth from the last remaining space station, The Ark, to see whether it’s still a radioactive wasteland or habitable again.”
What would you say to encourage viewers to tune in?
“The first episode is quite tame compared to the rest of the series. As the show evolves it gets grittier, darker and dirtier. It’s really exciting!”
Can you tell us what sort of dangers the teenagers face?
“There are so many. The greatest is themselves! If you send a group of unsupervised rebel kids to a different planet, all hell’s going to break loose – and it does! The greatest danger is they’ll kill each other before the Earth kills them!”
Is there a high body count?
“They don’t stay at 100 for very long. Ten minutes in, we see a couple of people die. By season two it’s going to be called The 40!”
What do you think it is about apocalyptic scenarios we love to watch?
“It’s weird because it’s our greatest fear someone will launch a nuclear bomb! It’s a very real fear, and watching those scenarios play out and watching people survive gives us some sort of comfort, I think.”
How do you think you’d cope in a similar scenario?
“I’d run and hide behind a tree! Clarke is much braver than I am. I’m very proud of my character; she’s a good role model – a strong young woman. There aren’t enough of them on TV.”
How did you make the leap from Australian drama Neighbours to a big-budget American sci-fi series?
“With a lot of part-time jobs in between! It’s really tough to sustain an acting career in Australia because there’s not that much being made. Though it’s getting better now. But when I left Neighbours it was really hard to get a break – I was kind of typecast as Janae. So I ended up bartending for a few years and doing guesties on various shows and random films. Eventually I just had to make the move over to LA. Luckily, a month after being there I got the role of Clarke on The 100, and everything turned around!”
Have you found it easy to ‘do’ an American accent?
“One of my part-time jobs in Australia was being a dialect coach, and I specialised in the American accent – so it’s something I’ve always had a knack for, luckily!”
Did you do any training for the role?
“I had an amazing personal trainer in Vancouver, where it’s filmed, as it’s a very physical show with lots of running around and stunts. I also worked with the stunt co-ordinators to get my skill level up. Most of our stuff was shot in a forest, but we have some sets built for us in a studio, like the drop ship. Often [with sci-fi acting] you’re reacting to stuff that’s not there, but you’ve just got to go with it!”