Cadogan was many things.
The Shepherd. A (cult) leader. An antagonist.
He was also persistent, dedicated, and reflective. And in his free time, he was also probably memetastic.
But first things first, call him Bill.
No one could have expected that a cameo role during The 100 Season 4 would amount to a whole other story during The 100 Season 7. After many years and planets into the future, it was like Cadogan was always meant to connect some of the stray storylines left behind from season to season.
John Pyper-Ferguson took it all in stride, giving new life to the charismatic leader with suspicious intentions.
All along, the story had fun, making the audience question what they should think about Cadogan. But no one had more fun than John Pyper-Ferguson, who took this role and made it hard to forget that we were meant not to trust this character.
Using humor and grounding it in a merely flawed human, Cadogan slowly grew into a character who offered us much to think about in the end.
It isn't always easy to take someone who is meant to put obstacles into the narrative and make him feel engaging and exciting, but John Pyper-Ferguson accomplished that above and beyond.
Taking some time out to answer our questions, John Pyper-Ferguson shares his thoughts on playing a character whose motives were always more of a mystery, what he took away from Cadogan's connection with Bellamy, and the challenges that came with filming out of order.
He also tackled the question of whether Cadogan could have passed the Final Test if Clarke hadn't intervened.
What was it like being on a show like The 100?
I appreciate the experience. My first experience was in the fourth season. I came in and just did like a little cameo bit. In terms of that, it wasn't really much of an experience because it was in and out and off the set in a half day.
I didn't work with any of the cast members. I worked with PJ Pence, the director. So that was something might come of it. Something might not. It was just one of those things. I hadn't even spoken to Jason at that point.
Then when I jumped on board for the final season, it was pretty awesome. It was a really tight-knit group, in terms of the cast of really lovely people who were simultaneously looking forward to completing the show as well as lamenting that it was going to be over, of course. So, I got into a good situation there.
When you first appeared on the show, did you expect Cadogan to be such a driving force for essentially the rest of the series and a potential other show?
Not really. I took it all with pretty much with a grain of salt. As you know, it's just one of those things. You roll the dice and see if there's an opportunity further down the line. I had no idea that that was going to come to fruition.
Jumping into season seven, different characters had very different opinions of Cadogan. A lot of people called him a cult leader or a villain. How did you personally approach playing this character? Did you make a judgment call on who you thought he was, or did you just go with it?
He really enjoyed the idea of “Call me Bill” and being the everyman. I think that was kind of like a real door into his psyche. For all intents and purposes, he's somebody who wants to be liked. His vision is that he's doing a good thing for everybody.
But stepping outside the character is maybe everybody doesn't want transcendence. Maybe they enjoy the ups and downs of life. To be quite honest, I think we'd all be pretty miserable in bliss all the time, and we'd get pretty boring.
But, he didn't have that perspective. So much of a performance and so much story when it’s that dance ends up never making it to the screen.
What I found is the driving force for Cadogan was that he wanted to see his daughter again. He wanted to reconnect with his daughter.
So, having said that, I don't think he viewed himself as a hypocrite, but he totally was a hypocrite. Nobody was supposed to have emotions but me. We're all supposed to drop family, but me. Which is totally fine. People do that.
I don't know, maybe there are only a couple of people who have pure thoughts, one of them being the Dalai Lama. The rest of us are flawed. Cadogan was definitely a flawed man.
Throughout the season, fans wondered how much Cadogan truly believed in this new path that he was on because of the whole no feelings thing. He did express so many feelings because he was so motivated by his daughter and was not really always for all mankind.
As a person behind the character, how much did you know about his intentions going into the season, or how much did you trust him as you played him? Did you trust his intentions?
When I came on board, I had a long conversation with Jason, and I also had lunch with him. Both times he basically gave me a rundown of what the rest of the season kind of looked like. Once Cadogan came in -- bits and pieces of what we're going to happen.
I understood all those things, but also, at some point, you have to just accept the duplicity of a character, and get the job done, go forward, and you don’t have much choice as to where the story is going to go.
So, how do you justify that? I think you just do it. I don't think the question is answered in the show -- why he's like that.
Is that just a psychotic mind? Is it just absolute narcissism? Is it again this guilt that he has for having left his daughter and the life he forced her into? They’re all great questions, and I think it's not in there, but maybe his mind gets screwed up by doing so much cryo.
I don't know that there's any real answer to that other than that's the way he behaved. Without it being on the page and without it being on the screen, I think it leaves it open to interpretation to someone in the audience and to those who are talking about it. If they're talking about it, it affected them somehow, just as it did for me.
I don't actually have a solid answer for that. I don't think Cadogan had a solid answer for that.
We also got to see a different side of Cadogan in the prequel episode. How did you kind of balance the knowledge of who Cadogan was when we saw him in the prequel versus who he became when we met him all these years later?
It was a really different TV process because of that flashback episode. A whole bunch of the episodes were shot out of sequence without giving the scripts to the actors, which is really rare. So, you don't really know what you're seeing.
It really is an exercise in just being in the moment and taking it scene by scene, and deciding to go that route. I was often confused, but just moving forward and deciding to be confident within the intentions I was choosing.
So, when you go to those flashbacks, you're looking at, in a sense, the beginnings of his unstable mind and potentially what sets him off to become The Shepard.
What was it like to film that episode in general and to have that story created around your character, having your family introduced on the show? What was like to finally see this other side of Cadogan?
It is what it is.
What I did recognize when we did it was when we finally got to the prequel, I was like, “Well, this is interesting because if we just shot this first, if it would have been shot in sequence, it would've been shot right after Cadogan gets out of cryosleep when he's introduced back into the series.”
So, if we just shot it that way, I realized, “Boy, I might've played a whole bunch of later quite differently because I now had this knowledge that I didn't have before of who he was in the beginning.” Honestly, it's just an observation.
It doesn't make anything better or worse. It's just the way things were done. There’s no changing it. But it was fascinating to recognize how that would have potentially affected things. It was kind of true of the whole way it was necessary to shoot the last half of the last season -- all out of sequence.
The choice you made in later episodes that aired later, of course, really would have been affected by the things in the earlier episodes that were shot later and put forward. So, who knows what that other version would look like? I'm kind of fascinated with that idea.
I don't know. I'm sure it's true on all levels. I'm sure things would have been written differently if you had the introduction to it.
Jumping into more of Cadogan's connections, he actually had many funny sequences in The 100. A lot of those interactions were between him and Gabriel, which were very memorable. What was it like to play a more humorous side of Cadogan with Gabriel and adding his own humor to some more serious situations that were happening in those episodes?
I really enjoyed working with Chuku. That scene was super fun. I was very happy to find all that playfulness and Cadogan. Even there, you find out that he is quite duplicitous because, in the same episode, he refers to them as kind of like being like gods, and then in the following scene, he doesn’t believe in God.
So, you're dealing with someone whose opinion can change very quickly and is unstable in some ways. Those scenes were a lot of fun. Then, it gets quite serious after that.
I sure loved working with Bob and Eliza. I could have done tons more of that.
It was a real treat, after many, many years of being acquainted with JR Bourne, that we finally like got to do a couple of scenes together. I've known JR for more than 20 years, and we've never done any work together. So, that was pretty cool.
I’ve always been an Adina [Porter] fan. We look at each other and stand close to each other, but we didn't get to play in any sort of way.
There was a bunch of that. There was a bunch of people I would have loved to have gotten to work with.
Similarly, Neil McDonnough and I have always just missed each other on a bunch of projects and stuff. And that was the first time we ever worked together. I thought, “This is going to be amazing. Neil and I are going to have a massive scene together. It's going to be really cool.” And as I show up, he gets killed immediately and puts an end to that possibility.
When you have so many storylines to resolve and so many characters to play with, you just come in and hope what you do contributes.
Clarke and Cadogan were definitely on different sides, but it felt like they were up against each other the whole season. What was it was like having those more leadership scenes with Eliza where most of the time she's just pointing her gun at you, even though it also felt like she reminded him maybe of his daughter and there was a play on that at some point?
Absolutely. Certainly, because of the deceit, Cadogan believes that the flame was in Clarke and that Callie is in Clarke as well, in some shape or form. He is certainly not pleased to find out that that wasn't the case.
Working with Eliza was awesome. Her and Bob – real pros. They’re always ready to work, always smart with their questions, and super fun to work with. They're a joy.
We were often in a kind of head to head, almost more of a mental battle. There wasn't really a gun battle. It was really more of a mental battle as we each made our moves for power, always believing and having opposite opinions of what the right thing is to do.
Jumping off of that, you posted a photo of you, Bob, and Eliza with a caption that included #BellarkeForever, which was lovely. In the caption, you mentioned going on this journey with them. Cadogan did sort of play this role of an obstacle between the two leads in the final season leading up to their very end, really.
What was like going on this journey where he was just kind of this thing that's in between the two leads that they can't get past?
I think it's a little deeper to where your personal feelings get involved because I'm working with Bob and Eliza so intimately, and they're lovely people and married in real life.
It seemed almost inevitable given the storyline that they would be together at the end.
I remember getting the rewrites on that scene when Bellamy gets shot, and my jaw drops. Like I was like, “Noooooo. That’s not right". I guess that's probably also why I put Bellarke. How do you not cheer for two people who love each other to be together?
And saying it at this moment, when I put it like that, I think it's something probably that Cadogan would cheer for as well. Actually, he does encourage them to get together because, at the end of one of the scenes, he allows them to reunite.
He believes in love. He believes in that.
That’s part of his wanting to be with his daughter again. And the disappointment that the judge actually isn't his daughter -- he's come all this way to find that. And he hasn't found it. He sacrificed a lot of people and a lot of lives -- a lot of people that he cares about to get there.
Based on your personal opinion, did you think Cadogan deserved to take and finish the test for all of humanity before Clarke took that chance away from him?
That’s an interesting question. I would have been fascinated to see what those questions were for Cadogan and how he would have answered them.
In an alternate universe, I think he would have passed or failed. I think it has the ability to answer the questions properly. Based on the life lived, he's a failure. I think he was always too personally self-obsessed.
Like when he’s got Madi -- there is no real reason. There's no ticking time bomb. He has the next ten years to extract this information from Madi. He doesn't need it immediately, yet he can't stop himself from having to have it immediately. That's a level of psychosis and selfishness that I don't see how he could pass the test for humanity in that case.
It's a bit like it's a bit similar to Clarke not being able to pass the test because she comes in and eliminates him. I mean, it’s much more justice, but I guess that's why she doesn't pass the test either.
It is interesting because it seems like the only reason she doesn’t is that she killed him during the test. So, there was such a focus on it that it did make me wonder, would Cadogan have passed it since he technically didn't do anything evil during it? And there was no timestamp on that?
It's very Christian. All of a sudden, the moment you're forgiven of all your sins is the moment after you committed them.
We’ve talked a lot about Cadogan’s relationship with his daughter and how he is constantly trying to find a way to connect with her again. I was a big fan of Cadogan’s son, and it was interesting how he saw him a lot in Gabriel, but also saw him a lot in Bellamy.
Bellamy and Cadogan also had this interesting relationship where the narrative kind of made you question whether Bellamy just believed Cadogan’s lies because we didn't know if transcending was real. So, their scenes almost came off a bit jaded.
How did you and Bob approach that? Do you think Cadogan genuinely saw how special Bellamy was, as he said, or do you think it a bit more manipulative because this was just someone who believed in what he believed?
I think that Cadogan genuinely believed in Bellamy and genuinely saw him as the person who would eventually take over if in the quest for transcendence or be his right man eventually. I don't think that was a false relationship in any way.
As a viewer, you always wondered what Cadogan’s intentions were. There was meant to be a scene in during The 100 Season 7 Episode 12 that we didn't get to see, but we saw photos of -- of them talking and Cadogan burning a photo of his family. We never got to see it, but it felt like a lot of that Bellamy/Cadogan connection we missed, in that moment.
I totally agree with you. That, out of all of the things that were cut of Cadogan, that one surprised me the most because so much time had been spent setting that up, and there was on screen in a photo in the cave, on the other plant, and there was also the photo leading from the prequel into the anomaly.
And then, it was cut. Without it being there, it affects things. I think it's a great question. That's in the world of other people who get to make those decisions, not me. I was crushed that it wasn't there because I felt like that was probably the moment the two characters connected the most.
Bob had so much more information, having done the show for seven years. He had great questions about what he knows and what's going on for him because of who Bellamy is. So, I don't know if any of that was affected by that. I don't know what Jason was thinking in losing that. I have no idea.
And then there was also a high expectation of seeing it, because there were stills of it.
There were a couple of things that we saw from that episode that didn't make it. Also, in a future episode, they referenced one of the things that we saw in stills, but that didn't make it into the episode. So, they were talking about a scene that we didn't see. It’s so strange, but why not?
In The 100, it seems like there's a lot of things that happen off-camera that are left in question, in terms of telling the story and in terms of moving the story forward. It’s left up to the creative minds of the viewer to fill in those spaces.
It was interesting because a lot of it felt Bellamy focused, and especially with that last-minute change to kill him, it might've added a lot of context right before he died.
It probably is. Who knows? It would be interesting to see the other ways that episode was constructed and what it would have felt like and in comparison, but we'll never know.
What is your favorite memory of being on The 100?
Wow! Something I hadn't even considered.
I think honestly, it's maybe not a specific incident, but something I really enjoy about working is meeting new people and new artists. I think it's the new friendships that one begins to build. You meet new awesome people. Every show you work on is a new tribe. Sometimes you walk away with a new friend, and that's always awesome.
What did you learn from your time on the show?
You know what I think? I think you would make a great therapist.
I feel like I could open up my journal and write three pages right now to figure that out.
It's funny that you asked that because when I am teaching acting and doing scene work with young actors, often the question I ask at the end of our session is, “What's your takeaway? What did you learn today?” That’s such an important part of the process. And now you've made me feel guilty for not applying that in this circumstance. I'm sure I was coached into learning many things along the way.
Maybe it was more like there was more like reaffirming of thoughts or reminders of things?
I remember my first introduction to Bob, and we were chatting. As a part of his studying, he mentioned he had gone back and rewatched that episode that I was in so he could remind himself of how Cadogan was introduced. I remember being really impressed by that kind of work ethic.
There are lots of people who don't do that -- who don't do that legwork. I’m someone who works hard and stays focused. I remember just thinking, “Wow, this guy might actually work harder than me. That's amazing.” Bob really applies himself.
Both he and Eliza reminded me of the grace and ease, and that if you come in prepared, it's a heck of a lot easier. I'm generally prepared anyways. So like I said, it's like a reaffirmation, or they at least inspired me to make sure I’m even more ready to go.
The scenes were often complex and long. But, the value is putting the work in and figuring out how to get there for myself. I had to go back into the old playbook and find a lot of ways to use different imagining in my head to notate things.
It’d been a long time since I used songs to create a mental space myself to work on the role and connect because I was working on the show over such a short period of time.
And yet there was this massive history and backstory for this character to connect with these things, particularly his daughter, of which I had not wholly been connected to. It required a whole bunch of other things.
We did find out that Cadogan was basically a millennial. So I wanted to ask, what do you think Cadogan’s favorite meme was? He did bring up memes with Gabriel. So I was wondering if he had a favorite one?
No, he didn't like memes. He hated them. He despises them. Even if he laughs at one, he despises the meme.
But let’s just say a Jack Soloff meme, since I played Jack Soloff. That’s a bit selfish, but he’s humorous.
For any The 100 fans looking for some nostalgia as the series concludes, TV Fanatic has a surprise interview series for you! "Looking Back On The 100" centers on monumental cast members and characters from the show that left their mark.
We spoke with Eli Goree about his time on the show, as well as Michael Beach about the journey he had, and we even took a walk down memory lane with Christopher Larkin and Aaron Ginsburg. We even checked in with Zach McGowan about that surprise return to the show.
We also spoke with Leah Gibson about #GinaWasReal and Nadia Hilker about creating the character of Luna.
Chai Hansen also looked back at the show with us when it came to his time on it as Ilian. And Charmaine DeGraté expanded on her writing journey with the show, as well as what it was like to write for Bellamy and Octavia Blake.
Keep checking TV Fanatic for more upcoming interviews with surprise cast members from seasons past.
Share all your thoughts with us in the comments section! Stick around TV Fanatic for more final features, slideshows, and interviews of the last season, and watch The 100 online if you need to catch up on the adventure.
Yana Grebenyuk is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.