Miller’s boyfriend. Two words nonchalantly uttered during a rover ride in the beginning of Season 3 of the post apocalyptic drama The 100. You know, during a time when our favorite characters had a few brief moments of smiles and singsong– well that was dismantled rather quickly thanks to Ice Nation’s interference, Jasper’s idiotic death wish, and the arrival of Charles Pike, Farm Station’s leader and subsequent hardass. But still, this mysterious person that was eluded to earlier in the season finally came the forefront in this story of survival and man, were we stoked. Nathan Miller has a boyfriend! And his name is Bryan.
The Farm Station citizen and Pike supporter (boo!) is played by the multi-talented Jonathan Whitesell, who brought an interesting (and long overdue) dynamic to an already multifaceted television show. But excitement in the fandom quickly took a turn, when Bryan, betrayed his partners trust and planted a listening device on his person… all to further now Chancellor Pike’s vendetta to wipe out every grounder left on Earth, and anyone who dare to defy his new rulership. Talk about hurdles in a relationship, this one’s like climbing a damn mountain… in a heat wave… while being attacked by a mutated gorilla! With so many dead under Pike’s new rule, including some of the Sky people’s own, can Bryan (and Nathan) survive the pending turmoil and chaos about to be unleashed within the walls of Arkadia? Can they find themselves safely on the same side…
Whitesell, who portrays this important character with ease was gracious enough to chat with me about working alongside co-star and on-screen boyfriend Jarod Joseph, one of the original members of the one hundred, who were sent down to their deaths three seasons ago. The talented actor also recently had a stint on ABC’s hit fairytale series Once Upon A Time, where he played the iconic hero Hercules, who faced his own twisty issues as well in bizzaro Storybrooke. Some gig, eh? We not only discussed working on both The 100 and Once Upon A Time, but he chatted about an upcoming new series on Freeform, called Beyond. Oh, and spoiler alert: he doesn’t like bacon on his donuts…
MCKENZIE MORRELL: To kick things off, can you pinpoint the moment where you decided you wanted to pursue a career in acting?
JONATHAN WHITESELL: The thing was, right out of high school, I had this nice idea to join the military. My father was enrolled and my grandfather was a police officer so I decided that was the path less traveled in my family and I felt like I should carry the torch. I ended up enrolling and I went through this weird period in my life where I really didn’t see acting as a lucrative career. I didn’t really see it as a suitable option. It was always something that I enjoyed, and I loved, and I’ve been doing it since I was eight years old, but it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that I realized that I should do something that I loved. I ended up registering for Capilano University in North Vancouver, which Chelsey [Reist] actually did the program there as well.
MM: Oh wow! Some good turnouts from there.
JW: [Laughs] I ended up doing the three year program at Capilano for Acting for the Stage and Screen and it was kind of that moment there that I just decided to take the plunge. Why do something that I don’t love as a career and the military just didn’t seem like, it felt like the world was telling me to do other things and pointed me in the right direction.
MM: And were glad that they did–
MM: Because you made quite the splash in the Once Upon A Time fandom, can you talk a little bit about Hercules and how you prepared for the role?
JW: Yeah, for sure. Upfront, when I had actually auditioned for it they didn’t post it as Hercules, they posted it as ‘a strapping young lad,’ and I remember going into the room and there were all these guys that were like six foot five and bearded and huge and I just had the mentality that I wasn’t going to get it. It wasn’t until two weeks after that I found out that it was Hercules. From there it was kind of like, I felt a lot of pressure, because it was definitely a character that I grew up with and I knew a lot of people loved those films, obviously, and I really wanted to do it justice. I looked at the whole spectrum, I looked back at the Disney films, and into the actual mythology, the Rock’s interpretation, even [laughs] Ryan Gosling’s interpretation. Just to get pieces from each and see which tidbits I could grab. And I brought my own spin to it, while still trying to keep true to the Disney series. It was nice, because at the time I was just bulking up for the sake of bulking up and it was perfect timing because I was weighing 170 pounds at the time, which is the most I’ve ever weighed in my life, so things kind of just worked out really well.
MM: Oh wow, and I got a lot of questions about your workout regimen, I don’t know if you wanna talk a little about that? What’s your average routine like? Do you have a set schedule.
JW: I’ve been doing this strength program with my roommates, and it’s a three day split. So I’ll do a push day, a pull day and then a leg day. And progressively through that you’re working through percentages of your backs weight, so the first week of the seven week program you’re doing 65 percent of your one rep max. You do three sets of six reps of that and over time, going up into the seventh week you’re working up until the one by one, the one rep. That’s kind of what I do. I do that with compound movements so my squat, my inch and my deadlifts. And then beyond that I’ll do accessory movements like chest slides and leg extensions on leg day or curls. The accessory like isolation.
MM: Wow, dedication! Now the mystery is solved and everyone can rest easy knowing what you do [laughs]
JW: [Laughs] Their minds can rest at ease!
MM: Right? The hard-hitting questions here. So, obviously Once Upon A Time took a completely different spin on this classic Disney story, were you bummed at all– that his cowardice got the best of him in this reality?
JW: The moment I read the script, I was just stoked. I like the new take– I thought it was interesting. As much as I loved the story that the Disney movies had, I thought it was refreshing and his arc with Snow was super interesting. Again, Billy [Gierhart], I can’t thank him enough, I wish he had some kind of social media account so I could thank him but he definitely was super supportive with all of my choices and was super helpful with any questions I had. He definitely saved my butt coming into this because it was such a daunting character to take on. I really wanted to make sure that people were going to be excited with what I brought to the table.
MM: I’m sure that they have. It’s definitely sparked interest in other aspects of the character, I know that a lot of people wanted to know if you would have liked to continue this sort of young love story with young snow? If you had more time, is that something you would have liked to tackle on the show?
JW: I would have liked to see the arc of the relationship. Going past him doing his trials and even prior to that, there definitely could have been more to touch on. But I liked how short and sweet it was. It really didn’t get convoluted at all. It was very simple. It would have been such a pleasure to work with Bailee [Madison] again, she’s such a sweetheart, and I’ve been seeing that all over the place, people asking if I would want to come back. Of course I would want to come back!
MM: Right? I mean, who wouldn’t.
JW: I’d come back in a heartbeat.
MM: And you got to work with Ginnifer Goodwin as well, was it intimidating at all coming into an already extremely popular TV series, with such a talented cast?
JW: Yeah. It’s always kind of that way with a guest star. You’re coming into an established show, with a cast who have been with each other for a long time. Upfront, I always find it nerve wracking to find your space on set, but with Ginnifer, I never felt intimidated by her– she was so welcoming and she was so open to answering questions that I had. The first day I had on set were the scenes when we were on the docks and she was just ready to answer any question I had. I was picking her brain about how she interpreted Snow, how was it taking Snow White in such a different path from the Disney films. And how she tackled it. I feel like her words of wisdom really helped me that day and helped me for the rest of the shoot. She’s a phenomenal actress, and I would love to work with her again.
MM: That’s so amazing, it’s great to hear that everyone is so welcoming and helps each other out. And now, we have to get into a little show called The 100.
MM: Your character came in, and everyone kind of went wild for him. Wat’s has been your favorite thing about working on that show?
JW: The cast is awesome. Everyone is awesome on that show [laughs], the crew too. Everyone is just so much fun on The 100. It’s kind of cool because it is very grueling. We’re out in Lynn Valley, deep in North Vancouver. Long, long days, kind of battling with the elements, too. But there’s this kind of, camaraderie, because you’re all going through the same thing. And again, same thing, when I first came on to that set it was interesting because those guys are such a tight group and it’s such a big ensemble cast. It took me a while to feel like I was alongside everybody, but everyone was super welcoming and it’s been such a great experience.
MM: That’s truly awesome. And I mean, ever since the audience found out Miller had a boyfriend, people just went wild waiting for you. Once you finally were introduced did you receive a lot of positive fan response on social media? What was that like for you once your character was out in the open?
JW: It was good. When I was filming it with Jarod [Joseph] and everybody, I knew it was going to be, not necessarily a big thing so to speak, but it was going to be different, ya know? We were two kind of almost alpha males from each station and the relationship was not based in stereotype and it’s so cool being in this universe, sexuality isn’t such a pertinent thing. I love that Jason [Rothenberg] drives that forward. The moment I realized that people kind of got over, well I don’t think people got over the whole Minty (Miller and Monty) thing [laughs] and I was on the Wikipedia page for The 100 and seeing all the fandom, and I was like ‘oh man, I’m just going to come in and ruin everyone’s parade.’ I was nervous about upsetting the “shippers,” so to speak. But it’s been nice to hear good feedback from people, even though people seemed to be upset a little about Bryan actions.
MM: To kind of piggyback off of your response, did you ever feel like– because I know a lot of the audience, not that they were unhappy but they felt a little like the dynamic of the public displays of affection or the lack thereof was an issue. Do you think that that’s something people should be focusing on? Or that these two guys have a different relationship and it might not be the same as Clarke and Lexa’s or any of the other people on the show.
JW: It’s such a different established thing, and I came into the show at a very strange time. Our relationship wasn’t really established, it was just hinted on in a conversation and all of a sudden, I was just kind of there. But Jarod and myself and Jason, we all kind of talked about– every actor has their process and we have our own backstories, but I already established that we had been together for a while. And the only reason there was any kind of separation was obviously the Unity Day explosion and the station crashing. The thing was, I know that a lot of people got upset with that one moment when we were leaving to go and raid that village, and we didn’t kiss. But again, it’s because of what’s been established and that returning and loyalty to Pike and me knowing there was something going on with him in that moment. And that we couldn’t really fix what was going on in that time. And also it’s established later on. And I don’t blame people for looking into that stuff because people want to see it. It’s a relationship and if it feels fake then obviously people are going to catch onto that. I totally get it. We really wanted to establish, in such a short period of time that we weren’t on solid terms. There’s been some difficulties, especially with my loyalty to Pike and him wanting to help out Kane. Bryan is realizing that there are things going on behind the scenes.
MM: I would imagine a few people were mad at your character for betraying Miller in episodes past. Will that conflict continue to be present as the season progresses?
JW: Without dishing out spoilers or anything–
MM: No, we don’t want any of those [laughs].
JW: [Laughs] Without giving away too much of the story, I think that Bryan and Nathan are always going to have these kinds of conflicts. There’s always going to be that struggle to maintain the relationship and keep things together. There is so much going on and it is dark times and trying to flourish in this world is tough. I feel like they’re trying to do the best that they can.
MM: Would you say that Bryan’s reasoning is for siding with Pike is because that’s just all he knows at this point. Or he truly believes this is the best way to survive?
JW: I feel like at that moment, he was with Pike 100 percent. And he kind of went along with it, and he finally has a moment where he’s finally questioning if this is justified or not. Because now it’s real. He planted the mic on him. Is it worth it to do something like this to someone so close? I’ve been siding with Pike since day one, but I don’t feel like Bryan necessarily believes in every decision that Pike makes, especially with putting some of their own in the lock up. But at that moment he’s definitely devoted to Pike.
MM: If you had to describe Jarod Joseph to a stranger, what would you say about working with him?
JW: He’s an old soul. He’s very wise [laughs], and I mean that in the best way, not like some shaman, but he’s honestly been– I don’t think he even knows this, but he’s been a totally amazing mentor for me on set. We hung out so much, because obviously all of our scenes are together, so any downtime we had we were chatting, we were talking about life, about everything. He’s been absolutely so helpful. I’d say he’s affable, he’s welcoming and he’s a good friend.
MM: Awww, that’s so great to hear. How long do you think you’d survive during an apocalypse? Would you rather it be post-nuclear war or zombies?
JW: Me, personally, if I was in an apocalypse– I don’t think I’d want it to be nuclear because obviously there’s so many things that go with that, radiation, mutation and stuff like that. I think I would last a decent amount of time but the moment that it would start to get into the personal sense, like when people are fighting over a moldy potato, I feel like that’s when I would break. I feel like my survival skills are good [laughs] but I don’t know about the longevity of me being able to take another person’s life to survive kind of thing. That’s beyond me at the moment.
MM: Time for a quick game with you…
JW: Ooh, fun!
MM: As Bryan, who would you marry, kiss and kill out of these characters from The 100: Clarke, Kane, and Monty.
JW: Clarke, Kane and Monty… [laughs] And it was marry, kiss and kill?
MM: Yeah, we’re doing the PG rated version of this game. [Laughs]
JW: [Laughs] As Bryan, I’d say I’d marry Monty. Man, I’d probably kill Kane and then kiss Clarke.
MM: That’s awesome, I did not anticipate those answers– so that’s amazing! And now, My signature question revolves around donuts. Based on your personality, if you were a type of donut– what would you be?
JW: I’d say I’m a maple glazed with chocolate chips. Something a little obscure, something you would be like ‘oh, okay.’ Something you’re looking in the window at Dunkin Donuts and it’s like the new donut. Like a limited time offer only donut, and you’re like ‘yeah, sure, I’d take that one.’
MM: And now are you a bacon fan? That might go well with a mapley donut.
JW: Honestly, I’m not a huge bacon fan.
MM: Alright, it’s okay– you’re not Chelsey. We’ll accept the chocolate chips. To kind of conclude, can you tell us about any new projects coming up that we can look out for?
JW: Most definitely. Very cool, I actually just met up with the social media and network PR’s from Freeform yesterday, which obviously it was called ABC Family and they’re now called Freeform. And I am a series regular on their new show called Beyond, and we are starting principal photography. You’ll probably be able to check that out sometime last this year, maybe early next year.
MM: That’s going to be a lot of fun.
JW: I’ll definitely be posting a lot of stuff about that because it’s going to be my life for the next six months. So, yeah. People can definitely check that out and follow it.
MM: In terms of social media, what’s your avenue of choice… are you more of a Twitter person? Instagram? Facebook? Tumblr?
JW: I’m more of an Instagram guy. I’m trying to use Twitter more, I’ve been very absent for a while but I really like live-tweeting, so I’m getting into that a little more. I’m hoping to be more active on Twitter over the next year.
MM: Yes, you do need to be active on Twitter, that’s where all the fans are… even the slightly deranged ones, but, it is all good. I just want to thank you for joining me and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the season of The 100 and Beyond coming up!
JW: Awesome! Thanks for having me. And thanks for the questions.
The 100 airs Thursdays at 9|8c on The CW