Eliza Taylor and Thomas McDonell: photographed by Mike Piscitelli. Marie Avgeropoulos: photographed by Silja Magg.  

The 100 premieres in early 2014 on The CW. 

For the 100 “expendable” juvenile petty criminals sent on a research mission to Earth from a space station that’s been floating above the nuclear-annihilated planet for 97 years, the “strange new world” presents uncanny beauty, unforeseen danger, and, of course, the temptation to cut off contact and keep it all for themselves. Seen through a post-apocalyptic lens, the plot’s historical and literary references feel fresh, like the first suck of air the crew takes after landing.

The first of the 100 to set foot on Earth, Octavia (played by Marie Avgeropoulos) had been locked up her entire life due to her status as an illegal second-born child. Octavia’s stir-crazy insolence wasn’t too much of a stretch for the 1200 CC Harley-riding Avgeropoulos, who started playing drums at 16 “to make a lot
of noise and tick off my mother,” she says with a laugh. The second-growth Vancouver forest where the pilot was filmed also served as a homecoming of sorts for the actress who grew up hunting and fishing in the Canadian wilderness. “I’d rather hang out around a campfire than go to a nightclub any day,” says the current L.A. resident.

To prepare for the role of Finn, a daredevil imprisoned for using two months’ worth of oxygen on a space- walk, Thomas McDonell watched videos of astronauts describing space travel. “There’s this experience that is really hard to describe because it is so sublime,” he says. “They’ll just sit for six or seven hours at a time looking out the window and ‘earth-gazing’ because it’s just so far out.”

Melbourne-born Eliza Taylor, who grew up with dreams of becoming a marine biologist—and had
the dolphin-and-whale-patterned bedspread to prove it—plays Clarke, the teenage daughter of the space station’s chief medical officer and an unofficial (and mostly unheeded) leader of the 100. Before filming, Taylor spent a considerable amount of energy trying to rekindle her childhood wonder for the natural world. “Fortunately, the locations we were shooting at were just absolutely incredible, almost prehistoric-looking,” she says. “Beautiful crystal-clear rivers and snow-capped mountains—I didn’t have trouble being wide-eyed, because I really was!”