Thank you to FarFarAwaySite for the stills!
Lindsey Morgan has been a pivotal part of The 100 as Raven Reyes since the show’s first season, but as the series nears its conclusion this summer with Season 7, Morgan makes her directorial debut with this week’s new episode.
Morgan spoke to Fandom about moving behind the camera for the episode, called “The Queen’s Gambit,” how a bit of lucky timing helped make it happen, and more, including what it was like to have a new dynamic with her costars.
BECOMING A DIRECTOR
Regarding how long she’d been thinking about directing, Morgan said, “I probably had the itch to try, or was thinking about directing, probably after Season 4. And I asked to shadow, which means you kind of get to be a fly on the wall with the director of that episode and sit in with them for all of the prep meetings and be with them on set and kind of get to watch their process and learn and absorb and they mentor you. So, I asked to do that in Season 5 and then I did it again in Season 6.”
Meanwhile, Morgan revealed, “I went to apply for the Warner Bros. directing program and they teach you how to direct for TV. It’s actually quite awesome. So I was applying for it, to do it, because I wanted to direct in the last season. But then I ended up shooting a movie in Lithuania, true story, so it didn’t happen. So I was kinda bummed, because with Season 7, I was like, ‘Okay, I think I missed my shot, missed my chance. We’re ending! But I’ll shadow again this year and just try to learn as much as I can.’ But then, three weeks before this episode was supposed to happen, the previous director dropped out. So I called Jason [Rothenberg] and I was like, ‘Uh, can I do it please?!’ And they made it happen! I’d never directed anything before but they believed in me and supported me 110% and we made it happen. It was crazy because I think I was in El Paso, in Texas, at my grandmother’s funeral when I got the call that I was approved. And I had to fly back and do everything.”
Asked if she had to deal with any curveballs while filming, Morgan replied, with a laugh, “It’s The 100!” and that she had, “100 curveballs, minimum.”
More seriously, Morgan remarked, “I will say, the show’s different every season, which is kind of awesome in a creative sense, and a creative challenge. But also, what took a lot of time to tend to was the creation of this new season, the creation of the new planet Bardo. The creation of new characters, where they come, their backstory, their society. We’re introducing all of that while still maintaining this new society on Sanctum that’s in utter shambles.”
She added, “I would say the lore of The 100 is always the most time-sensitive and delicate because you can’t get it wrong. It’s a world; you can’t mess up the world. So that [offered] curveballs, and also any time you’re on set there are curveballs. And that can be just how much time you have. The moment you walk on set you’re on the clock and you’ve gotta get out of there at a certain time or you’re gonna cost the production a lot of money. You know, it’s always a very intricate dance of giving time to scenes and acting and lighting and adjustments and digging into them as much as you can, and then having to get out of it and having to wrap it up because you have move on. And making those decisions of when, you know, you try to stick to a schedule but it always changes. Some things just take longer. It could be costumes, it could be makeup, it could be lighting. It could be new lines or actors aren’t feeling well. You never know. You always have to constantly adjust, and that was my biggest lesson, was learning to adapt on the fly.”
A big part of the episode involves a game of chess played by Sheidheda (JR Bourne) and Murphy (Richard Harmon) which includes a lot of specifics about the game being played, which The 100 team wanted to get right. While Morgan knows how to play chess, she revealed, “We also had a chess expert on set. So every time you do see the chessboard it is actually a real game and Richard does make the move that’s called the Queen’s Gambit, which is what the episode is titled after. So that was all true.”
Some of her costars, like Harmon, she’s been working with for years, and Morgan said when it came to directing them, “It was interesting because it was like I got to see everyone in a new light and that was really cool. I always appreciated and always been very impressed by every actor in our cast when we’re in scenes together. But, you know, it’s kind of like you’re not doing a good job acting yourself when you’re noticing the other actors doing really good acting. If you’re in the scene and you’re thinking, ‘Wow, they’re really killing this scene,’ you’re not in the scene, you know what I’m saying? So I never got that chance to admire their acting unless, of course, I was watching it. But that was the coolest thing about directing.”
“Richard and JR are one of my favorite scenes and pairings in this episode to work with,” Morgan noted. “It was like I got to be in a Ferrari and I got to play with all the gears. And suddenly I got to push them and provoke them or bring them back or make them go faster or harder and it was fascinating to really see how talented they were and collaborate with them. That was really rewarding that I got to help them, or hopefully inspire them, for them to make adjustments or change or get to a new level. So that was really cool. I told JR at one point to play with his food, and he loved that!”
Ahead of Lindsey’s Directorial Debut, The 100 Star Reflects on Raven’s ‘Saving Grace’ Over 7 Chaotic Seasons
While Raven appears to be getting a good handle on the ever-expanding universe of The 100, her portrayer’s experience has been slightly different.
“This show does something different every season, and this season is complicated AF,” Lindsey Morgan, who makes her directorial debut with Wednesday’s episode (The CW, 8/7c) tells TVLine. “As a director, getting the lore right is the most important thing. I can’t get the world wrong. So I found myself really studying it, making sure all my T’s were crossed and my I’s were dotted. People are like, ‘Oh, was it easier because you’ve been on the show? And I’m like, ‘No!’”
Morgan also appreciated the opportunity to step into the minds of several characters with whom Raven doesn’t normally interact. Not only is her episode a dramatic showcase for Hope and Diyoza — newly reunited in an alien prison after a decades-long separation — but it also dives deep into the damaged psyche of an empty, heartbroken Echo.
“I approached them the same way I would approach my character,” Morgan says. “It was really just me getting to put myself in the shoes of all my cast mates and thinking how I could help to elevate or inspire them as actors.” (Revealing additional specifics about these characters’ developments would spoil this unpredictable hour. But don’t worry, we’ll go deep after it airs.)
With The 100‘s series finale creeping ever closer, Morgan says she can look back on Raven’s journey with pride. “She’s been through so much, arguably some of the worst things on the show,” Morgan says. “She has failed, but she never fully lost her resilience. She has questioned, but she never fully lost her faith in love and in people and in herself. I feel like she was also tested in every way imaginable, but she never lost her heart — and I don’t think anyone would blame her if she had. I always held onto that for Raven. In the end, it’s her saving grace.”
The end of a long-running show is always a surreal experience, but Morgan says her physical farewell to The 100 was especially “strange” because of the coronavirus pandemic. “It felt like The 100 was seeping into reality,” she says. “It was weird and confusing, but in true 100 fashion, we kept going. We brought our A game and did the best that we could. It was unfortunately very unceremonious at the end because we all had to finish shooting as quickly as possible in order to go home and quarantine. We didn’t have a wrap party, so we didn’t have as much time to say goodbye. We weren’t even allowed to hug!”
Unlike hugs, however, tears were not in short supply. “I remember on that last day, our AD was [announcing everyone’s series wrap], and it was tears every time. And we have a huge cast! So there was a lot of crying, then makeup, then shooting again. It was crazy. We made something really special, and I’m proud of that.”
This week’s episode of The 100 is a special one, and not just because it has a couple of big twists headed your way. It also happens to be Lindsey Morgan’s directorial debut for the series!
If you’ve been watching The 100 this year, you’ll know the final season has done a lot of worldbuilding, exploring new planets and an entirely new civilization of humans. Morgan stepped behind the camera for Episode 7, titled “The Queen’s Gambit.” Despite being so familiar with The 100 — seven years tends to give you a certain amount of expertise on how a show operates — Morgan says directing her first episode was still a daunting task. Breaking that new ground, so to speak, came with a lot of responsibility Morgan told TV Guide.
“It’s interesting because it is The 100, so I feel like we do try to do something new every season, bring in a new world, a new society, a new culture,” Morgan said. “So even though I had such a great history and expertise in a lot of places of the show, I still felt the need to be hypersensitive to the new lore that we were creating — the new world, a world of Bardo and their society and their culture because, you know, you just can’t get that wrong. That was probably the most difficult task for me, just making sure, crossing my T’s and dotting my I’s about everything for that society and doing it justice for how Jason envisions it for the rest of the season.”
Given how heavily the people of Bardo and their mysterious war have already played into Season 7, we’re not surprised there was a lot of pressure surrounding this episode, which does answer quite a few questions about the Disciples and their history. Luckily, Morgan had a handy directorial resource at her disposal in the form of her co-star Bob Morley.
Morley directed his first episode of The 100 last year in Season 6, and Morgan says he was very supportive when it was her turn to step behind the camera.
“I actually reached out to Bob at the beginning because I didn’t know I was gonna have the chance to direct until three weeks before I got the approval,” Morgan said. “So I was feeling pretty overwhelmed, and I reached out to Bob and he was very giving with his mentorship and his own experience, and what he felt worked for him and what he wish he did better. That really helped guide me on my process.”