2:43pm PT by Amber Dowling
'The 100' Star Slams Showrunner Over Controversial Exits
It’s been a pretty tumultuous season for The CW’s The 100.
Weeks after fans and critics alike ripped the series for killing off Alycia Debnam-Carey’s character Lexa for playing into the "Bury Your Gays" trope, former star Ricky Whittle has taken issue with his departure from the show.
During last week’s "Stealing Fire" episode, fan favorite Lincoln (Whittle) met his demise while sacrificing himself for his people. It was a move many saw coming after the actor landed the lead role in Starz’s drama American Gods — but that didn’t make it any easier on fans of Lincoln and Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), who have been rooting for the star-crossed lovers. (The CW ignored multiple requests to speak with the actor in advance of his final episode.)
Following comments made on Twitter by Whittle's mother about the way in which The 100 showrunner Jason Rothenberg treated her son, Whittle broke his silence about his departure from the series and the behind-the-scenes drama that led him to want out.
“It was my choice to go,” the actor said. “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.”
The actor revealed that Warner Bros. Television president Peter Roth — whose company produces The 100 — and The CW president Mark Pedowitz were both supportive of his decision to pursue other roles. Whittle also noted that the friction between himself and Rothenberg built up to a point where the latter was always unavailable to discuss Lincoln's storyline, or lack thereof.
“Every time a script would come through I would see literally nothing for Lincoln," he 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. I approached other producers [on set] 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 his motivations for speaking out now are part of an effort to raise awareness that bullying goes beyond a high school issue. “No one should ever suffer in silence,” he said.
As for how Lincoln's exit played out, Whittle was unhappy with that as well: "It kind of seemed settled that Lincoln was going to go toward the end of the season, and then a script came out and an amendment came out ... where he went back and was executed. I mean, even that storyline — he was executed for no reason. It was very weak."
Whittle also used the platform to further blast Rothenberg for the way the character of Lexa was killed off. Debnam-Carey, who was written out after landing a series regular role on AMC's Fear the Walking Dead, was also killed off of The 100. Her Lexa was offed following a passionate first-time love scene with Clarke (Eliza Taylor). It launched a massive conversation about the “Bury Your Gays” trope on television and prompted an outpouring of thinkpieces across the blogosphere blasting the series, though Debnam-Carey played coy when addressing the backlash. (Rothenberg, as well as the episode's writer, have both since publicly stated that they would have written Lexa out differently had they been more aware of the trope.)
"[She’s an] incredible character and to be caught by a stray bullet … and then Lincoln, that was really weak," Whittle said. "It's sabotaging the story. 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."
Rothenberg, who has also refrained from doing press pegged to Lincoln's exit, addressed Whittle's comments Wednesday in a generic statement: "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 Whittle's comments and The 100's death spree? Sound off in the comments below.