'The 100' Star Richard Harmon on His Emotional New Film 'Break My Heart 1000 Times' & What Makes Murphy Tick
In 'Break My Heart 1000 Times,' Harmon plays Kirk, a student who helps classmate Veronica [Bella Thorne] investigate a tragic, mysterious phenomenon.
The 100's Murphy isn't always television's most loved character, but actor Richard Harmon has high hopes. In the ongoing fourth season of the The CW's intense series, Harmon's role continues to expand, stripping Murphy of the unabashed apathy to which we've become accustomed in favor of loyalty and vulnerability. One character has been invaluable in that journey: Murphy's love interest Emori, played by actress Luisa D'Oliveira.
In Season 4's eighth episode "God Complex," Emori's safety is compromised when a desperate Clarke briefly considers injecting Luna's radiation-immune marrow into Emori, sacrificing her as a guinea pig in hopes of saving her people.
In that moment, for the first time, self-survival is no longer the name of the game for Murphy.
"I think that was his most vulnerable moment [so far]," Harmon tells Zimbio on April 3. "There have been a few others, but this one wasn't about him. This was all about protecting someone else. He was willing to throw away all of his pride to grovel and beg to Clarke [Eliza Taylor]. He was willing to do anything to have it not happen....I think we maybe got a couple Murphy haters out there back on the bandwagon."
Any fans of the series know the episode was far from the first time Murphy and Emori have stuck their necks out for one another.
"She's the best," Harmon says of D'Oliveira. "From day one we had a great chemistry. [At first] we didn't know how long she was going to be on the show. In the first season, she was just in one episode. So I remember emailing [executive producer] Jason [Rothenberg] saying, 'This girl is legit, she's really, really talented. I hope we bring her back.' I think he already was gonna bring her back. Obviously he did, and we've had probably one of the most stable relationships on the show. But the chemistry between us is something we've talked about a lot. I think it's because we have a really wonderful professional relationship. If there's anyone who knows [Murphy] almost as good as me, it's Luisa."
The show features many relationships of all different kinds, while never explicitly addressing the concept of sexual orientation. For this reason, among others, fans flock to it.
"We've only ever seen characters be whoever it is that they are," Harmon says. "We've never addressed it. We've talked about it off-set, that this definitely is a society where there isn't anything like that, but not on-screen. It's just whatever you are, you are. And I think that's important to show. We've made a lot of progress, but clearly, unfortunately, we see every day that we haven't made nearly enough."
Historically, Murphy has been the ornery anti-hero; the one member of The 100 who couldn't be tamed or dictated by the expectations of others. That immunity to the influences of society, as it turns out, has served him well.
"If Murphy's survival was hinging on him having to make a decision that was quite bad morally," Harmon says, "I think he would consider doing it...unless it put a few certain people at risk, which I think is a wonderful way for him to have developed — caring for human beings, albeit a small group. I think he came off the ship with a very raw, undeniable talent of survival. That's been him since the very beginning. He's had every chance to die thrown at him and he continues to get back up. He's adaptive. He's a very smart guy, regardless of what people say. So I think the longer he spends on the ground, the longer he figures out what the world is like. He sees situations happening before they happen. He understands when things are going bad, or when something just is not a good idea. When Clarke or someone has a crazy idea, he's the only one that's like, 'This is stupid, you're gonna get us all killed.'"
As much tension as there may be between The 100's tenacious characters on-screen, Harmon says the cast is very close off-screen, offering one hilarious example.
"[Actor] Henry Ian Cusick [Marcus Kane on the show] gave me a wicked wedgie in Season 2," he shares. "My hands were tied up in front of me and I couldn't do anything about it. So before the take, he said my pants were looking low, and he reached down and grabbed my freakin' underwear and just ripped 'em up. So I had to do an entire take with a bad wedgie 'cause I couldn't get my hands behind me to fix my underwear. That was Season 2, Episode 2 where Kane brings me into lock-up where they're keeping Bellamy [Bob Morley]. It's the first time we see each other since we tried to kill each other."
To the point, at the time of our discussion, the show's cast was gathered for a convention.
"Most of the cast is together right now, actually. I would be with them if I wasn't working," Harmon says. "We all hang out. Literally, some of the cast is my family. My sister [Jessica Harmon, who plays Niylah] is on the show. Apart from that, the rest of the cast is great. I love 'em. When you spend four years with people, soon to be five, you're bound to get to know them real well."
Harmon says his relationship with his sister, and the other women in his life, is of paramount importance.
"I wouldn't be the man I am without the strong women in my life," he says. "[They're a] big influence for me. It should be that way for everyone. If you don't have good women in your life, you're missing half the battle. There's good men, there's good women. I'm very close with my mom. She's honestly an angel. She's the hardest working person I know. I'm also close to my sister, who cares about me so much and is so talented. And I have so many close female friends. I'm not currently dating anyone, but when I do, it obviously helps make you who you are. People I've dated in my life have helped make me who I've become. One of my best friends in the world, [actress] Anna Van Hooft, she's an amazing woman. A strong, strong woman."
Recently, Harmon welcomed one more strong woman into his life via Break My Heart 1000 Times co-star Bella Thorne.
"She's such a beautiful, talented woman," Harmon says of Thorne, who also starred in MTV's Scream: The TV Series. "She's unlike anyone I've ever met, I told her that yesterday. She's one of the most unique people in the world. It's been great. [Actor] Dermot Mulroney is also in this film and he's such a good guy, it's so great to have a veteran there. We all get along together really well."
In Break My Heart 1000 Times, Harmon's character Kirk assists Veronica as she investigates the ghosts, or "remnants," inhabiting their world. Kirk and Veronica are seen nine years after a horrific bombing in Chicago referred to as "The Event" takes place. These "remnants" serve a tragic purpose, playing video loops of the lives of The Event's victims.
"It's been an incredible experience. It's been unlike anything I've ever done," Harmon describes of the film. "[Remnants] are these ghosts that live among us, they're just a part of everyone's normal, day-to-day life. They don't actually interact with us, they're sort of just a video on loop, replaying moments of the ghost's life. [Veronica] has to see them every day, and she's more inquisitive about why they're there and what's happening. She enlists the help of a new kid at school, my character Kirk, and we go on an adventure."
At its core, the film focuses on one of the most harrowing, relatable parts of the human existence: losing something (or someone) you love.
"It's a beautiful, simple story of grief. It's a very layered, complex story from our writer Jason Fuchs. And Scott [Speer], our director, is kind of weaving it together for us. It's really about the process of grieving."
The concept is unique, transforming grief — an often hidden, implicit form of pain — into in-your-face, "personified" physical manifestations.
"You can't interact with them, they just go through their daily motions," Harmon says. "It's hard because you see loved ones that you've lost. Some of us see them every day."
The aforementioned mega-fans of Harmon, his projects, and The 100, he says, have changed his life.
"It's like nothing I've ever seen before," he says. "I had maybe dabbled in having fans before, but not many, just here and there. The 100 kicked that up to a different level. It's been nuts. We fly around the world doing these conventions and meeting these amazing people who just love us so much for our work. It's obviously a fantastic feeling. Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself that this is really happening all because you're just doing the job that you already love."
His personal message for those fans?
"Seize life with everything you've got, I think! Wake up every day with something in your gut. Go and get it."
Harmon took our Which Character From The 100 Are You? quiz and got Lexa, a result he "was kinda hoping for her, yeah."
"Knowing myself," he said, "I think it makes a little bit of sense."