Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail reporting for the best interview of his life. Well, NoWhiteNoise might be a tad bit biased considering we’re huge fans of Toby Levins and his portrayal of Cage’s “right hand man” on The CW’s hit series The 100. I’ll admit that I wasn’t always a fan of Carl Emerson though, a man who made our blood boil when he pushed the buttons of our post apocalyptic hero Clarke Griffin, after making a deal with the Commander and forcing the Grounder army to abandon the Sky people in the season 2 finale. To be fair, Emerson was merely following the orders of a deranged and destructive President, who valued his own people’s lives over Clarke’s, but it doesn’t make his participation in the whole ordeal any less infuriating. Or the fact that he’s a total jerk escape us.
Many fans of the show questioned if good old Emerson would be back for another go in Season 3, and boy did he return with a vengeance! After losing everyone in the mountain, Carl Emerson took matters into his own hands by providing the Ice Nation with the self-destruct codes to level Mount Weather and those who dare to remain in it. Farm Station squatters met their untimely demise, and Raven and Sinclair barely made it out with their lives. What a di– I mean, terrible human, amiright?
We knew Emerson would be out for blood, but we had no clue the extent he’d go to see Clarke’s head on a platter. To make her suffer the way he clearly had been suffering since the massacre of his people. “Bitter Harvest” was a revelation of sorts, where the last mountain man was gifted to Clarke by King Roan of Azgeda. I would have gone with something a little less flashy, but bloody humans in boxes seems like a well-received gesture to show your loyalty in this new world. So let’s go with it. Ultimately, the great Wanheda spared the life of the well-known Lieutenant reiterating that Blood Must Not Have Blood. Emerson may have escaped death, but his demons will haunt him for the rest of his days. He’s now been banished from the Commander’s lands, but in light of Lexa’s recent fate– will her alliances and rulings hold up once the next Commander is chosen? Is this the last we’ve seen of Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail?
Levins, who the fans hope to see in upcoming episodes, was kind enough to join me for an epic Skype interview, where we discussed in detail the actions of his character on The 100 and that kickass ‘Emerson Lives’ video he posted on the day of his return. He dished about working with the rest of the cast, taught me how to say words the “correct” way by Australian standards and I even snuck in a question about donuts. Spoiler alert: he has the best concoction for all you sweets lovers. Whether it’s understanding Emerson’s motivations or seeing what’s next for this actor who plays the disliked character oh so well, this guy has some insight for you!
At ease, soldiers.
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Thanks for joining me, I’m excited to chat with you about the episode.
TOBY LEVINS: Thanks for having me on!
MM: Of course, if you’re ready we can dive right in and talk about your character a little bit.
TL: Let’s do it!
MM: Emerson has been that character that you hate to love and love to hate, did you have any idea that after the massacre at Mount Weather that your character would be used to drive a pretty important plot in season 3?
TL: No. [Laughs] Absolutely not. I had no idea. I didn’t know if I was– I mean, originally, I think Jason [Rothenberg] said this so it’s out there, I was meant to die in the finale of season 2.
MM: Oh wow.
TL: It was scripted, a fight between me and Bellamy, which Bellamy won and I died. But we ran out of time in the episode to shoot that scene. So after season 2 finished, I was kind of in limbo as far as if I was coming back, if I was alive or what the story was. I was off shooting another show and I didn’t know if I would have the scheduling availability to do it and then I got a phone call saying that I was back in episode 3, where I come out of the woods and want to know where Clarke is and then I go back in the woods for a while until I got a script and that was episode 6. But to answer your question, no, I had no idea but I was pretty happy that I came back.
MM: I think that’s so funny– I just had my sister binge the series, for the past two weeks and her first question after she finished the season 2 finale was ‘what happened to Emerson? He’s gotta be coming back, right?’
MM: Yeah, I thought it was kind of cool that they almost set it up without officially setting it up, that you would be important later on. I thought that was a nice nod at the end of season 2.
TL: Yeah, it’s funny how things work out sometimes. You don’t realize it when you have to play that card and for me, when I was in limbo and I didn’t know I was coming back I decided to make a little video and it’s on YouTube. I made the video with no real intention of anyone seeing it. It was just because I was bored and I had a week off, and me and a buddy went to the woods with an iPhone and just shot this thing. And then I sent it to a couple of the writers and they reacted positively. And then when I got the script, episode 306, I was like wow this is pretty bang on to what my video was about so I don’t know how much that played into Emerson’s arc, I’d like to think it played in a little bit but sometimes hustling pays off.
TL: Yeah, I mean, it was great that people thought it was part of the show, because it was really just me and a friend in the forest with an iPhone. So that was kind of flattering. It also kind of showed me how much people analyze stuff because I literally picked a number out of thin air.
TL: It could have been 84 days, I could have said 76 days, so when that video dropped and Jason [Rothenberg] kind of released it on all the social media sites, everyone was like ‘what does this mean? What does this mean? What does this mean?’ It just means that I picked a number. That’s it. But ironically, it kind of does– if you think of the video that I made, that it takes place after 306, the days actually do kind of lineup.
MM: Ooh, that’s a good point. I think that’ll spark some more theories moving on, but for your character you’ve been gone for a little while, he aided the Ice Nation in blowing up Mount Weather, I mean, as a character what do you think his thought process was? That was a facility that could have been used for good. He could have somehow taken it back, I don’t really know what the logistics would have been but what was behind him being like ‘I’m just going to blow up where I’ve been living for my entire life.’
TL: Well, I think it was more, and I had this discussion with a friend– what’s really great about The 100 is there’s no bad guys, there’s no good guys, there’s just people and their fear of their own story. Emerson, as we found out in 306 has lost his kids, he’s lost everyone that he’s known his entire life and everything he worked to build and Mount Weather was a representation of those ghosts. And I think, destroying Mount Weather was a way to wipe the slate clean and for the people that occupied Mount Weather, they were trespassers in the last thing that he had left in the world. I think that was the reasoning behind that and ultimately was it a play to get to Clarke? Maybe.
MM: Yeah, of course! And I thought that was such an interesting detail, I hadn’t really picked up on the fact that he had any children. I’m not sure if there were any little Easter eggs throughout the season that we missed, paintings on the wall where the children were or something like that but it definitely adds a different element to him that we didn’t realize that ‘hey this guy had children, he had friends’ and he was much more than this soldier taking orders.
TL: Right, exactly.
MM: So, now. How satisfying do you think it was for Carl to be able to tackle Clarke when they opened that box?
TL: It’s strange when you call me Carl. He’s never been called Carl before. [Laughs] How satisfying was it? It was amazing, as an actor it was extremely satisfying, I actually spent a lot of time in that box when we were shooting it.
MM: Oh no!
TL: It was good to get out of the box! You think about the four months, or whatever the timeline has been and I don’t want piss off any fans that know the exact time stamp of how long I’ve been in the woods but whatever it was, four months I’d say, he’s been doing nothing but replay stuff in his head. Losing his kids, and the one person that he can make responsible for all that is outside that box. So yeah, it’s a pretty big moment and really all I tried to encapsulate was pure hate.
MM: I think that was conveyed for sure. How many ‘dick in a box’ jokes have you gotten on Twitter… are the fans loving the fact that your character came back?
TL: Yeah, it’s all been a pretty positive response, and for the most part I play the dick in most TV shows. Where I’m from in Australia, there’s a very famous soap called Home and Away, which I don’t think we get in Canada or the states, but it’s very famous and if you think of any Australian actor that’s famous they kind of started in Home and Away… anyway, I play a multitude of characters on that show, all of which were complete douchebags. I’m no stranger to people hating on my character, but the one thing that was nice about 306 was a lot of people saw that he’s just a guy who was doing what he thought was right for his family. And for his people. As far as ‘dick in a box’ jokes, there’s been a fair share of those jokes, and the first time I heard it, I thought it was hilarious. But 137 times later, it’s still funny– but less funny.
MM: [Laughs] You’re like, let’s move on! Now, obviously, ultimately Clarke curbed her appetite for vengeance and let him live. Do you think Emerson wanted to die? A lot of people say that they didn’t see relief in his eyes, they kind of saw that he was disappointed in the fact that she didn’t kill him and end his suffering.
TL: That’s certainly how I intended to play it and I think that’s how it was written. Because for that moment, she strings him up, he’s built up in his mind that he’s about to die, and whether he’s a religious man or not, I don’t know, but maybe he’s coming to the realization that either he’s gonna see his loved ones when he dies or his pain will come to an end. And what is so great, is that line when Clarke says may he live forever, it just kind of stamps it down that he’s going to be wandering the forest forever, maybe. With nothing but mourning and sadness from the moment he wakes up until the moment he dies and just to be filled with hatred. That’s a pretty horrible existence.
MM: Have you found that there’s a weight that comes with being Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail, aka the last mountain man? That name has stuck, that people can’t say Carl Emerson without getting the rest of it in. [Laughs]
TL: Totally, and what’s funny is that scene [in season 2], where I say ‘Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail,’ we ran out of time, but that back and forth between myself and Kane actually went about four or five times. Where all I said was ‘Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail.’ I was a little upset they cut it, I know why they cut it, they just didn’t have enough time but it played really, really well and it would have made Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail jokes even more justified. What was your question? [Laughs] Oh the weight! The weight of being Carl Emerson, the last of his kind. I hadn’t really thought about that, I really played it, it was the weight of being a father. He really let his kids down, and I didn’t know it when season 2 was over that I had kids, going back to what you said before. There are no Easter eggs that I had kids, I’m sure people could find stuff, but it wasn’t. You can see the last shot in season 2 where I kind of run away crying a bit, so all I really wanted to take away from that is I was a father that really failed and I knew in that moment that my kids were dead.
MM: Yeah, and you realized there was no hope moving forward. But, we love the premise of your character being the last of his kind, and we hope to see him again! On that note, if we were to see him again do you think he will still be foaming at the mouth to kill Clarke and get his justice?
MM: [Laughs] That face. That is a sneaky face.
TL: He could go to the jungle and find like a shaman, and just be one with the universe.
TL: There’s a gorilla still out there, he could just make friends with the gorilla– or forge his revenge on Clarke. Who knows, McKenzie!
MM: [Laughs] I think an interesting thing would be if Emerson runs into Jaha and his people and he takes the City of Light pill, he’s a good candidate for that! I’m just going to put that out there.
TL: That would be an interesting storyline, wouldn’t it?
MM: Right? It would be. So obviously we talked about the ‘Emerson Lives’ video, you have also done some fun little videos with Eliza Taylor, and some of the other cast, you joke around a lot– do you like making original content for web, is that something you would do more of?
TL: I would totally do more of it, like Eliza is the queen of that.
MM: Yeah, she is!
TL: You can look at her Vine, her Instagram, or whatever you kids are doing. I don’t know, I’m too old. But she’s really good at it. I’ve just been a little bit busy with other stuff, with work, not that that’s an excuse because Eliza is the busiest person in the world but I do enjoy doing it. I probably enjoy doing more scripted, short film, or longer content stuff, to be honest with you.
MM: Oh definitely. That sounds up your alley, for sure. And now if you could play another character on The 100 for a day, whose shoes do you think you’d want to hop into?
TL: I think Murphy’s storyline is pretty dope. I just remember when he found that lighthouse and he starts eating shit and drinking and he’s [Richard Harmon] a great actor. But I don’t think I’d choose him. I’d choose, you’re making it hard, Lincoln. Because I’d want his abs– just for a day.
MM: [Laughs] That is like the perfect segway to my next question because I was literally going to say that we have to settle a debate, who out of the cast has the best abs. I see your back and forth on Twitter and clearly it’s a thing. So let’s get into some superlatives here.
TL: The best abs, there’s no contest is Lincoln. I mean he’s got about 12 of them. The best abs would go to Ricky [Whittle]. The best smirk would be Bob [Morley]. The best laugh would be Eliza. The nicest dude is Chris Larkin. The guy I want to be my dad is Henry Ian Cusick, who plays Kane. When I first booked the role of Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail, it was one day. It was one day at work and then I was just going to go off into the back of Mount Weather and probably never come back. To go from that to where he is at right now, where he might go in the future was just a huge blessing. I’ve worked with a lot of people on the show, I’ve worked with Bob and I’ve worked with Eliza before and I haven’t worked with Alycia [Debnam-Carey] before but she’s awesome. To meet all those people and become a little family and make a whole lot more friends, it’s really one of the best sets I’ve been to.
MM: Oh, I can only imagine and the Australians are taking over, especially on The 100. We’ve got a lot of great Aussies but in terms of the accent. I honestly had no idea you weren’t American, which means you’re doing a damn good job at the whole acting thing [laughs]. But is there ever a time where there’s a word that you just can’t drop your accent to do an American one.
TL: You know what’s really hard? It’s Carl.
MM: Carl? Oh the irony.
TL: Carl as in Carl Emerson, that scene where I have to say ‘Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail’ thousands of times… was a difficult one. It’s the ‘r’ in Carl, and what else, if I ever have to say aluminum, because we say it aluminium.
MM: Do you feel there are any words that American’s just don’t pronounce the right way? That you think it should be the Australian way?
TL: Oh, aluminium!
MM: I can’t even say it that way, it hurts my brain. [Laughs]
TL: Give it a go!
(Listen to Toby Levins teach me his ways)
MM: You were also on Fear the Walking Dead, did you get to cross paths with Alycia Debnam-Carey at all? Is it good seeing familiar faces when you do other jobs?
TL: Yeah! I was fortunate enough that she was on the set when I was working. She’s awesome, and I hadn’t met her or worked with her prior to The 100, but there’s some people that just– she’s young. She’s a lot younger than I am and she’s got her head screwed on straight and she’s a fucking good actress. Really good work ethic and she’s going to go a very long way.
MM: We couldn’t agree more! She’s definitely a fan favorite. You’ve described working with some of the other cast members but a small portion of the fans are clinging onto the dynamic between Emerson and Clarke and they think after they work out their differences that they should totally have this spinoff series. If you had to describe Eliza Taylor to a stranger, what would you say about the experience working with her?
TL: She is exceptionally grounded. She’s been working since she was very young, back in Australia. And that could be a curse for a lot of people but she’s handled it unbelievably well. She is a terrific actress and she’s hilarious, she’s probably the funniest, tied with Ricky, probably the funniest person on set.
MM: There’s probably not a whole lot of room for joking around, but I hear the blooper reel is great, so does that mean you guys get to prank each other on set– or is it all work and no play?
TL: It just depends on how the day’s going. If we’re ahead of schedule we’ll blooper it up. Ricky likes to make people laugh, so if it’s your coverage and the camera’s on you and it’s just the back of Ricky’s head, he has a good time trying to make you laugh. I don’t know if I’ll make the blooper reel, I’m trying to think if there’s anything that I did. I’m just so professional [laughs] I don’t have any bloopers. I did almost break the stunt girls nose. That might make the blooper reel. Eliza’s hair did catch on fire.
MM: Oh boy! I guess that’s one of the hazards of living in the candle section of Bed, Bath and Beyond. [Laughs]
TL: That might make the blooper reel. It’s a very fun set either way, but if we have time there’s always a little bit of room for some hijinks.
MM: Right? There’s so many candles on that set, I really would love to know whose job it is to light all of them in Polis. But, you have some other projects coming up, can you tell us anything about those?
TL: Yes, sure! I just finished Supernatural, so I’ve got a couple of episodes in Supernatural which will air in a few months. I started on a new show called Beyond, which I’m really excited about. A new series, we shot the pilot not too long for ABC, and it got picked up and we start shooting ten more episodes.
MM: Oh wow, that’s amazing! A busy guy. We’re looking forward to that! To go out with a bang, I do a random quirky question: if you take your personality into consideration– what flavor donut do you think you would be? And it doesn’t have to be one that exists, you can make it up. Different toppings.
TL: This is the hardest question of the interview [laughs]. Okay, this is important.
MM: Very important. Don’t mess it up.
TL: Well, what I would do is I would get an old fashioned donut, I’m reliable, and an old fashioned donut is reliable. Nothing fancy about an old fashioned donut, but it gets the job done.
MM: That is true.
TL: So I’d get that, but then what I’d do, is I’d get Ben & Jerry’s, melt the Ben & Jerry’s, put the donut in the Ben & Jerry’s… refreeze the Ben & Jerry’s and then eat that.
MM: Oh, look at you. That’s interesting and so creative! Wow. It depends on what kind of Ben & Jerry’s… what kind of ice cream are we talking here?
TL: Oh, that’s easy, brownie fudge!
MM: I think I can get on board with that. Now, obviously you can’t tell us if we’ll be seeing you again, but I have a sneaky suspicion that we’re not quite done with Carl Emerson, Mount Weather Security Detail, but do you have a message to The 100 fanbase?
TL: I’m just grateful. I did an Ask Me Anything on Reddit like a year ago, when Emerson was not as big of a character as he is now and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, which just speaks to how dedicated the fans are to the show in general. Some words said by this little character at the time would lighten up their day so much was really inspiring to me and made me want to do a much better job when I came back for the season with some heavier stuff. Just grateful, and to just keep on watching, there’s some good stuff coming up!
MM: This has been awesome, I really appreciate you talking with me and I hope to see you again on the show! Because that has to happen, come on.
TL: Gotta happen right?
MM: It does! Thank you so much.
TL: Awesome, McKenzie. This was fun.
The 100 airs Thursdays at 9|8c on The CW