'The 100' Star Richard Harmon Says Season 6 Is 'the Best Murphy Season'

Emily Hannemann
Q&A Diyah Pera/The CW

If you're laughing at a line on The 100, there's at least a 75 percent chance John Murphy (Richard Harmon) said it. Many of his one-liners are pretty iconic: "Camp You is that way," "Touch me again and I'll end you — in a non-criminal way," and "What level of crazy is too much for you? I'm just curious" among them.

And though he's funny, Murphy's character development is no laughing matter. Of all the characters on the show, his trajectory from villain to hero might be the most unexpected. Murphy went from trying to kill several members of the core group in Season 1 to being willing to sacrifice himself for them in Season 5. He went from being on the outside to having good friends he considers family and his girlfriend Emori (Luisa D'Oliveira) who — despite the ups and downs in their relationship — loves him.

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TV Insider spoke with Harmon about Murphy's journey from sarcastic, rage-filled delinquent to sarcastic, reluctant hero, why he thinks Season 6 is the best season for his character and which of Murphy's many one-liners is his favorite.

In Season 5 we saw Murphy struggling to find his place, to figure out where he fit in. Is he still trying to find his place in Season 6, or has he figured out where he belongs?

Richard Harmon: He’s still struggling, for sure, but I don’t think it’s as much finding a place within the group or the new society. I think it’s more struggling to find a place where he feels comfortable with himself. That’s more of the struggle for him this season, and that’ll become very apparent when you watch the first couple of episodes.

What do you have to say about that journey, or why he enjoys being the hero?

I think he listened to everyone for so long telling him over and over again, “Murphy, you could be so great if you just did this, and this, and this.” I think he’s finally come to the place where he’s been trying it everyone else’s way, and again, come Season 6 — there’s some tough stuff that happens being a good guy. And when Murphy takes those kind of lumps… I think that’s the great thing about Season 6, without giving too much away. How far is Murphy willing to take those lumps and still be a good person?

Yeah, it’s tough to be a good guy!

Especially for someone who can so easily get what he wants by just taking the shortcuts to get there. That’s how he’s been doing it most of his life. So when he’s taking the lumps of being a good person and not taking the shortcuts — how much patience does he really have left?

In a lot of ways, Murphy seems to be the most “human” of the characters on the show because he has all of these complex emotions; he’s jealous, he’s envious, but he tries to be good.

He’s got a moral compass in there somewhere, it just gets buried under a river of crap. [Laughs]

Yeah, it’s not easy to have a moral compass on this show! How do you approach playing a character like that, who has complex and conflicting emotions, and sometimes doesn’t know how he feels?

I hope I never have to try to play someone who isn’t complex like that. I think that would be the real struggle: to try to make something out of a character who isn’t complex at all. And that’s why I’m so lucky to have been given Murphy, who is, as you said, complex and has all that stuff running in him. It allows you to do almost anything with him and have it make sense, because he’s a person who has his times where he can fly off the handle.

For me, as an actor, it's very fun. But for me as a person, it plays to both sides of me — sometimes I just want to be subtle with it, but sometimes with our show being the way it is and Murphy coming from where he’s coming from, I can still, as an actor, enjoy my crazy side and have it work. So that’s what I enjoy about him.

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I enjoy seeing those scenes [where Murphy flies off the handle], too.

They’re so much fun. And we’ve got both, this season. We’ve got Murphy going crazy and loony tunes, which is fun, and we also have him representing a real, flawed, hurt individual. It’s my favorite Murphy season that we’ve ever done. Season 6 is by far and away the best Murphy season there is.

That’s exciting! But going back to Season 5 for a minute, were you surprised at all to see where Murphy was after the time jump? 

I was excited when I first read Episode 1 and I saw him kind of at odds with everyone. I was excited to try something different, to almost bring him back a little further to Season 1 stuff. It was almost like we did it in-between, and I wanted to go further that way with him.

I think our trajectory with Murphy in Season 6 is a lot more thorough. And when we make a decision with him this season, we really do let him go for that decision fully, not half. So that’s kind of cool. And that doesn’t mean he can’t be half-half on something, but if he is, we go the full way in explaining the half-half. And that’s, to me, what’s been so great about Season 6; it has given him a lot of time with the audience to show what he’s going through.

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What are you able to tell me about Murphy and Emori in Season 6?

You see in the end of Season 5 that we’ve sort of reconciled things. I think some of what was a struggle for us is still there, but I think those are two very strong people who have been through a lot together, love each other very much, and do lean on each other. And in this new solar system, you’re going to have to have your comforts. I’m not going to say where we’re heading, but right off the bat, I believe those two are going to be very good for each other to keep each other sane.

Many fans love Murphy’s one-liners — do you have a favorite one-liner or zinger of his?

I think “Camp You is that way” with Jaha was a good one. That was one of my favorites. I remember getting it in the script and being like, “What do you want me to do with this?” and I had no confidence in it at all. And then we got to the day, and I did it, and I remember Isaiah [Washington] turned around to me and did his Isaiah hearty laugh. I was like, “Oh thank God, it worked!”

That was still in the early days of doing comedy with Murphy, when I was like, “I don’t know how good this works.” But that gave me confidence I could do anything, because Isaiah liked it.

If Murphy could interact with a character who he hasn’t yet talked with much on the show, who would you want to see him talking to?

We have such a rolodex of brilliant actors on the show who do such great things, and are in so many different storylines, that it’s tough. I would love more time with Adina Porter, who plays Indra. She’s so brilliant and professional. Other than that, keep me with who I’m with!

Oh, I’d love to see more Indra and Murphy scenes.

How great would that be? I think they’d be the best buddy-cop duo you’ve ever seen. It’d be incredible. I want more of that. Also Gaia (Tati Gabrielle), I would love more stuff with Gaia. I’m not going to give anything away, but one of those might come true a little bit.

Three emojis and three words to describe Season 6?

Emojis: 🌈  🥃  😇

Words: “Brave new world” (a reference to the Huxley novel) or “life and death”

The 100, Season 6 Premiere, Tuesday, April 30, The CW