[Warning: this story contains major spoilers from season three of The 100. Proceed only if you have seen season three, episode nine, “Stealing Fire.”]
As much drama as The 100 shows onscreen, it appears there may be even more of it behind-the-scenes. Hot on the heels of the controversy surrounding Alycia Debnam-Carey’s exit, Ricky Whittle—a.k.a. Lincoln—has slammed showrunner Jason Rothenberg for how his character Lincoln’s life and death was handled. Last night, Whittle went on AfterBuzzTV for an interview about his time on The 100, as well as his highly-anticipated next project, Starz’s American Gods adaptation. After his mother posted comments on Twitter about how Rothenberg exhibited “disgusting” behavior as a “bully” towards Whittle on set of The 100, Whittle didn’t hold back in his interview and addressed the elephant in the room.
(You can watch Whittle’s full interview in the video above. He starts talking about The 100 around the 19:00 mark.)
“At the beginning of the season, [I] had a whole storyline that was cut, that was just non-existent. It was my choice to go,” Whittle said. “This is going to be the most controversial thing I will say, is that basically Jason Rothenberg abused his position to make my job untenable. What he did was disgusting and he should be ashamed. A lot was made of what my mom said all over Twitter, but everything she said was true. He was professionally bullying me, cutting out all the storyline I was supposed to be doing, cutting lines, cutting everything out, trying to make my character and myself as insignificant as possible.”
Lincoln was executed by the controversial and brutal Chancellor Pike (Michael Beach), sacrificing his own life to save others currently being held in Arkadia’s prison cells. While Whittle tried to discuss his lack of a storyline in season three with Rothenberg, he said that the showrunner was always unavailable, unlike previous seasons where the two would regularly meet.
“Every time a script would come through I would see literally nothing for Lincoln,” Whittle said. “He’s not doing anything. It was never about screen time, it’s an ensemble cast … but it was why he had no screen time. [On set in Vancouver], I approached other producers and said, ‘What’s going on?’ because Jason always stayed in Santa Monica. ‘Why am I being treated like this?’ And the producer I spoke to just [said], ‘You need to speak to him. I don’t know what his problems are with you.'”
Whittle claims that Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. Television Group, and Mark Pedowitz, president of The CW, were supportive of him, and were, in fact, the ones who allowed him to audition for American Gods because they noticed that his “character was not being used at all.”
In fact, according to Whittle, Lincoln’s death was actually supposed to happen in the season finale, not in episode 9. “It kind of seemed settled that Lincoln was going to go towards the end of the season, and then a script came out and an amendment came out … where he went back and was executed,” Whittle said. “I mean, even that storyline — he was executed for no reason. It was very weak.”
Losing Lincoln on the show meant that his fan-favorite coupling—a.k.a. Lincoln and Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos)—was also axed without any kind of resolution or story arc for all of season three.
“[The relationship] disappeared and the reason was [because] Jason was trying to cut me out and it was childish. It was immature. It’s narcissistical, really,” Whittle said. “He chose to belittle me and neglect my character and myself. I often had questions and emails were ignored and things like that. It was ridiculous. That’s one thing that I’ll never forgive him for, he made me walk away from something I really love. He forced me to make that choice, to walk away. But I’m proud I did it, I stood up and said, ‘Enough’s enough.’ My personal well-being is more important than this.”
But Whittle didn’t stop there. He also took Rothenberg to task for how he handled Lexa’s (Debnam-Carey) death as fans criticized the show for leaning into the “Bury Your Gays” trope. The actress was only contracted for a limited number of episodes in season three due to her series regular role on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, but fans were upset when Lexa’s death (from a stray bullet, not in battle) came about just one scene after she finally consummated her relationship with Clarke (Eliza Taylor).
“[Lexa is] too incredible a character to be caught by a stray bullet, and then Lincoln, that was really weak,” Whittle said. “It’s sabotaging the story … it just makes Pike a villain, there’s no layers. It’s taken away his complexity. Before it was like, yeah, he’s aggressive and he’s killing all these Grounders, but he’s just trying to look out for people, he’s trying to think of the greater good. Now he’s just killing people — and that’s not down to Pike, that’s down to the writing. And for me, I just thought that’s just Jason trying to get me off the show as quickly as possible.”
So why speak up about this controversy now? Whittle hopes that by coming out with his story, he can help others who are being bullied.
“No one should ever suffer in silence,” Whittle said. “Bullies thrive in silence. That should never be allowed to happen … you should always feel that you have someone to talk to. There are call centers, there’s various things online, look them up. There’s always someone you can talk to, you should never suffer through anything on your own.”
In the wake of Lexa’s and now Lincoln’s deaths, many fans have called to boycott The 100, but Whittle stressed that he doesn’t support that kind of thinking.
“My strong message is ‘blood must not have blood,’ none of this ‘eye for an eye’ business,” Whittle said. “I don’t stand for anyone bullying bullies, so it’s not about that. My big message is keep watching this show. Keep watching The 100. It’s an incredible show and that’s my family, so I want to promote that you keep supporting my cast and my crew. My cast is the hardest-working cast I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. The crew, you don’t even see what they do off-screen … they work their fingers to the bone. From day one, we were killing off characters from the very beginning. But you still have to remember we have a bisexual lead, we have [gay couple] Bryan [Jonathan Whitesell] and Miller [Jarod Joseph], we have various black characters who are in power, we have powerful women — literally the show has everything, so stay with it. Stay with my family, stay with my friends.”
For his part, Rothenberg released this statement to Nerdist in response to Whittle’s interview: “Ricky Whittle is a talented actor; I appreciate his work on The 100 and wish him all the best moving forward on American Gods.”
What do you think of all this behind-the-scenes drama that is unfolding on The 100? Does it color the way you view the show at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions about anything and everything having to do with The 100, so tweet me at @SydneyBucksbaum.
Images: The CW
The 100 airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.