6:18 pm EDT, May 21, 2017

Interview: ‘The 100’s’ Devon Bostick reflects on Jasper’s heartbreaking journey

The 100 alum Devon Bostick speaks about his time on the series and the heart-wrenching demise of his character Jasper Jordan.

When Jasper met his tragic end in The 100 season 4, episode 11 “The Other Side,” it was met with a wave of sadness from the fandom who had watched this sweet, innocent kid transform into a broken soul over the past four seasons.

Jasper Jordan landed on the ground believing that this was his time to live, but instead, it slowly killed him. While his friends all managed to push through the pain and soldier on, Jasper found that he could not, his experiences in Mount Weather leaving him with severe PTSD, and in the end he was unable to find a way to live with his depression.

The plot barreled along, and the other characters had no time for his pain. Monty, his best friend, had his own demons to deal with. There was no one to help Jasper, and then they found out the world was ending.

Related: The 100 season 4, episode 11 review: Earth Day

In the final episode of season 3, Jasper’s journey was meant to end with him taking his own life; they wrote the scene, they filmed it, and as far as actor Devon Bostick knew, that was the end of his time on the show.

But after realizing that a season-ending suicide might be too gruesome even for The 100, the writers changed their minds and brought Jasper back for what Bostick describes as a “victory lap” season.

Jasper’s story was always going to end with him taking his own life, but this time, it would be within the context of Jasper knowing the world was going to end, and him making the decision to spend his final days enjoying life, rather than waiting for death.

In the end, he died with Monty (Christopher Larkin) — his best friend on and off screen — by his side, their goodbye scene tragic both because Jasper was dying and because Monty had to watch it happen.

As a fan of the show, and as someone who has identified with Jasper and the journey he was on, I was deeply affected by this storyline and its conclusion. I know many other fans were, too, and I wanted to give Devon Bostick a chance to say goodbye to the fans and the character, an ‘exit interview’ of sorts that will hopefully help give everyone a bit of closure. I hope it does.

First of all: how are you feeling?

Devon Bostick: It’s kind of an odd experience, to be honest. I’m glad we could do this. I’ve died a lot, in a lot of different things, and I’ve always loved playing characters that have a demise, like Jasper was supposed to in the pilot. But this is really the first time where there’s been a massive emotional connection to it.

It’s been four years with this character. I feel like I lost a friend. And it’s just weird to say goodbye to this show, this family — even though I’ll see them all later. And it’s even weirder because I’m overseas at the moment. I kind of wish I was with Chris [Larkin] right now.

From my tangential awareness of The 100 cast, you all strike me as being incredibly close.

Yeah! I don’t know if it’s always like this, I’m sure it happens a lot, because when you’re doing a TV show you’re this group of strangers placed together, who get to experience more than just the show together, creating chemistry off-screen so that it translates on-screen.

I got to live with Bob [Morley] the first year, and then I lived with Chris in the third year… and it’s emotional now, seeing these tributes and fan edits put together of previous works and old footage of Monty and Jasper, and Bellamy and Jasper. I’d be lying if I said I don’t have a tear or two fall from my face every time I see a really good edit.

It’s bittersweet, really, isn’t it? Jasper’s story was so incredibly tragic, but it’s also moved so many people. When I asked for questions for you from the fans, so many people just wanted you to know how much they care. All that love is really wonderful, knowing that that came from something you made.

It is incredible to see the impact of Jasper and these characters, and how they’re so relatable to so many different people. A lot of times it feels like you make a film that no one ever sees, and you don’t know if it ever really reached out to anyone, or brought someone home, if you will. But this did that. I am incredibly grateful for that.

You’ve known about Jasper’s death for a while, obviously, and have kind of had time to process it — and this isn’t even the first time he’s died on the show! But they took it back then, and it’s official now, it happened and everyone’s seen it. That must be bizarre.

Yeah, it’s almost like we did two trial runs beforehand. And leading up to it I was like, oh well, we did this last year, we’ve ripped the band-aid off, I’ve already gone through the goodbyes, this is just kind of a victory lap. But then it ended up being just as emotional.

It’s so odd to have that kind of a connection with something. I usually do more recurring roles, and when it’s done, it’s done. But I guess now, with this new age where you’re able to connect with people online in an instant, you really do see the impact of these characters and these stories.

Out of the — well I guess not really three, the first doesn’t count — so out of the two deaths they gave Jasper, in the season 3 finale and the one in season 4, which do you think you would have ultimately preferred, in retrospect?

That’s a hard one. I wouldn’t prefer any of them, but the season 3 one was a lot more gruesome, and I don’t think it sent the right message. I think the writers really did set the fans up to be prepared for this year’s death. And ending the show with Chris is kind of exactly how I would wanna go out if I were to go out, you know? Because he was my best friend on and off the show, we’d make music together, and it was always kind of the beginning of Jasper’s story for me, that friendship. So ending it with him is the best you could really ask for, if he had to go that way.

Yeah. I feel like if they’d gone with the season 3 death, then the season would’ve been leading up to it, so you’d have had the buildup that season 4 didn’t have time for. But like you said, you wouldn’t have had that scene with Jasper and Monty, that brought it all home, and kind of allowed it to be Monty’s pain, too.

Yeah, the season 3 one was very cut short, I think a lot of people would have felt cheated by that. I’m sure a lot of people still feel like it could have been worked out a different way altogether, but I think ending it with Jasper and Monty together and with that love, them being so close… it’s heartbreaking but it’s bittersweet. I think the storyline was a very hard pill to swallow, but a little bit easier this time because they had set up that storyline where Earth was already simmering in radiation and on its way out.

There’s been this undercurrent of conversation in fandom following Jasper’s death, the question of whether there could have been a version of this story in which he didn’t die, in which he learned to live with the depression and PTSD and everything else he’d been struggling with. Where do you land on that?

I think there definitely could have been a possibility for that. But then again, there’s so many storylines and plot points going on in The 100. Jasper’s story… that was kind of where it was headed, I think. It was something he’d prepared himself for for so long. The death of Maya really affected him. And I think it was just hard to get over such a traumatic experience.

I don’t know how much you want to speak to this, but there’s been some debate about whether or not Jasper’s decision to kill himself was the show sort of saying this was the ‘right choice’ for his character or situation. I didn’t personally get that impression but I think it’s an important thing to address.

There was actually a little beat that we tried to play in [the death scene], addressing that. It’s such an emotional scene, and a very colorful one that goes all over the board — from Jasper feeling at peace with this decision to regret that Monty’s there, to the drugs kicking in and feeling this full love and expressing it — but there was this small beat that we played at the very end to try and say that it wasn’t the right decision, this small piece of fear in Jasper’s eyes right after he says, “See you on the other side.” One last big regret at the end.

It’s such an incredibly tragic thing, but there’s such a realness to it, too. It’s something that happens sometimes, and the show chose to tell that story with Jasper.

Right. I’m sure there’s questions about this, but there’s this idea I’ve been hearing from people that, ‘Oh well, everyone goes through something on the show, Jasper was being annoying, everyone’s gone through traumas, he needs to suck it up, blah blah blah,’ and like… I understand that, yes, everyone went through something on the show, everyone’s murdered someone or had someone been taken from them. But people deal with things differently.

It’s nice to see all of these characters get back on their feet and brave the good fight after all of these horrible things have happened to them, but it also does not feel entirely true if all of them are like that. And I think what I was trying to do with this story and my character was to show that there’s some humans here, too. Not all of them are superheroes.

And it’s painful to hear ‘oh, he’s annoying’ or ‘he’s complicated,’ as a criticism. That’s a criticism, that he’s complicated? I don’t understand that. But that’s part of the problem with mental illness and representation, I feel, because people will write someone off as annoying — or they don’t understand them so they’ll label them weird — these one-word labels that kind of damn the whole inclusion of characters that are actually going through more than just what’s happening in the plot, you know?

Right, and that’s what makes Jasper’s journey so important. In a story like this you need people that can keep going, like Clarke and Raven and Bellamy, but then there are people that can’t. This is literally a war they’re fighting, and some people can’t just carry on when they’ve killed people, when people they love died. And the responses that have been coming from some of the audience have been so frustrating, but like you said it’s also so very emblematic of the lack of understanding for mental illness, that people are so quick to label Jasper annoying because he doesn’t just get over it. It reflects how people treat those with mental illnesses in real life, I think.

Yeah. It’s indicative of society and its faults, unfortunately. We see someone we don’t understand, and it’s much easier to just call them weird annoying instead of stopping to think, and maybe realize that this person might be going through something. That every person you meet is not just some simple label. We all have these journeys and demons and pasts, and we all have different attributes that make us us, but to see someone you don’t understand and call them annoying… it’s fucked up.

And I see it a lot in real life, too, where you can meet someone and just because they seem a little bit off people will call them weird, but you don’t really know what that person’s going through. I’m hoping that Jasper and his storyline and the conversation will lead to some sort of progression with this issue. But then again, there’ll still be people that will just wanna see things as black and white.

I guess if there’s a good thing to say about his death it might be that it’s made so many people, even those who maybe earlier were quick to dismiss Jasper and his pain, kind of open their eyes and go, ‘oh, shit, this really led him here and we just called him annoying.’

Yeah. It was kind of shocking to me, to be honest, to hear those responses once Jasper started to feel real emotions. I’ve always felt with this show… I love it, but the plot is so fast-paced that we don’t really get time for these human moments, and it was so depressing to me that the second Jasper started to grieve for Maya, and went through the process of grieving, it was kind of written off by the audience.

I wish there was more empathy for human characters, instead of only rooting for heroes that are able to win giant battles or destroy an entire nation or whatever it is. It’s baffling to me. But maybe that’s because I’m an actor and I prefer the more painful, tormented characters.

What kinds of conversations did you have with the writers about Jasper’s journey as it was going on, and the sort of weight of what the show was putting him through?

Me and Jason [Rothenberg] definitely had a conversation about PTSD, and the soldiers that come back from war and the statistics there. I preferred season 3 Jasper though, because I really got to let out all of these demons, and cry, and show that it’s okay to cry and feel emotions. This year was more about trying to find this monk-like state and also this pure bliss, to kind of accept the fact that we’d been fighting for so long, so why not live? You only have X amount of days left, why not take advantage of every single moment of that?

So it was a mixture of that, and also finding this serene peace with this mindset of, ‘you’ve made your decision to keep fighting and I’ve made my decision to enjoy my life.’ And neither was wrong or right, from Jasper’s perspective. It was really just trying to find this place where he’s letting go of this thrill-ride of trying to survive, and turning that into the beauty of what we’re living in, which is Earth, which is why we came here in the first place.

The 100 season 4 Jasper

Was it weird to come back from season 4 when you kind of already thought that you were off the show?

Oh, super odd. Cause I’d already had a lot of emotional goodbyes — or see-you-laters, I guess — and it was definitely funny for some of the crew members, cause it was like, ‘wait a second. Did I miss something?! We shot that scene, didn’t we?!’

So it was definitely odd, but also kind of freeing to come back, knowing that I could just sort of play and, kind of like Jasper, I didn’t take it as seriously. He was having such a good time, so I got to also have a good time and try out some new tricks, and just have fun and improv and be free again, go back to season 1 Jasper, the free-loving kid that we all adore [laughs].

Did you do a lot of improv in season 4?

As much as they’d let me! I like to throw in odd lines here or there. It depends on the scene, you know? But yeah, there were a lot more quirks that were added just because he was constantly on this high, and I just felt very free to move in this space and not worry about making mistakes, because I already said goodbye.

I like that. Even though, as a fan, I obviously would have loved to see a lot more of Jasper in season 4 and a lot more of that party —

Oh, you and me both!

That definitely would have been a really interesting way to counter some of the other stuff that was happening that season. But that said, I do like the idea that it kind of parallels season 1 in a way. Even though it’s happening off screen, it’s still happening, and these people are still back to that cathartic, ‘whatever the hell we want’ mindset.

It was quite an interesting scene, bringing that back with Bob, that idea of ‘whatever the hell we want.’ Because I feel like in season 1, Jasper was probably on the opposite side of that, at least for the arguments of, no, we’re here to live but we also need to get shit done! So it was interesting to repeat Bob’s pilot catchphrase back to him.

When I was asking for question from fans, I got so many messages of love to pass on to you, but I also got a lot of unfinished business-related questions, kind of reflecting that sense of incompleteness with regards to Jasper and the relationships he had with people like Octavia, and Raven and Clarke — this need for closure that the show didn’t provide.

I feel the exact same way as the fans, to be honest. I did feel that there were a lot of unclosed ties. Some that I think were on purpose, but some was just them running out of time and pages. It was definitely kind of heartbreaking to have an episode called “The Other Side” where there were only two scenes of Jasper, and I really wish that I could have played with more of the actors that I had developed these relationships with and this chemistry with.

I understand the idea of leaving some of it open, but it also just kind of felt like, well, there’s too many storylines and there’s a lot of things going on here, so I’m sorry Jasper, but now’s your time. Which is unfortunate, but that’s television.

You’re in good company with people who’ve died on The 100 though.

Yeah. I’m in the stars with Maya now.

Oh no, I’m sad again now.

I know!

I definitely agree with the lack of closure though, especially for Jasper and Octavia — that relationship had been there from the very beginning.

Yes! That’s one that I’ve always felt like needed to come back in some way, but it never did. But she was on her own journey too, I guess. And it’s not the Jasper/Octavia story, you know? I do understand it. Still, to have some kind of closure there… because she was a catalyst for him kind of taking a chance and stepping out of his shell, which was kind of the reason he got speared [laughs]. But then she picks him back up again, that season. I loved the Jasper/Octavia relationship, but it did kind of get lost in the cards.

How do you think Jasper would have reacted to Grounder Queen Octavia?

Ha! I mean, it depends on which version of Jasper he was, I guess, but by this point I imagine it would be kind of scarring to see someone like Octavia become such a — I mean, it’s incredible, she’s a warrior — but I think from Jasper’s point of view, that amount of bloodshed might be unnecessary. And also just scarring on his psyche. But I’m sure he also would have been like, damn, she’s badass.

I haven’t really put too much thought into it though, because it didn’t go down that road, and it didn’t seem like it was going to. The most important thing to me was really just the Jonty closure. But now I do wonder how that would have gone. And the Raven thing, too. I felt like the past two seasons we really did form a great bond, it felt like we were this pair of rogue fighters. I wish I had some sort of exit with her too.

Yeah, I was very upset we didn’t see more of Raven and Jasper. I’m not gonna lie, I was shipping that a little bit.

I was shipping it too [laughs]. But then again, I also wasn’t shipping Jasper with anybody, because it was super important to me to show that you can’t just move on like that after your partner melts in your arms. I felt like it would have been… unless he was doing it similarly to what Raven did with Bellamy, to sort of release some demons, and then regretting that decision, but I don’t think that would have been true to Jasper either, after the effect Maya and that experience had on him.

That’s a really good point. As for Clarke, do you think that Jasper came to understand or forgive her in the end, of had he just written her off at that point?

That’s a very tough question. I think by season 4, Jasper had sort of forgiven everyone. There was still some deep-seeded resentment, probably, for Clarke and the decision she made, but then also understanding that she had to make that decision. We all make mistakes, and Jasper was kind of at peace with everyone by the end of it. And I feel like that kind of translated in that jail scene with Clarke and Jasper, which I loved playing with Eliza [Taylor]. Because it was no longer just this hate for Clarke, but also understanding and kind of a mutual respect.

And then bringing it home to Monty and Jasper, and how that relationship was allowed to develop. I was wondering if you could speak a bit to how you worked in that final scene, working with Chris and also Henry Ian Cusick [who directed the episode] to find the emotional intensity that it had?

Ian dealt with that storyline with such grace and tenderness. He really is an actor’s director, because he is an actor, and a brilliant one at that, so he really came at it from an emotional place.

For me, the difficulty was trying to play this heightened version of the jobi nut Jasper, while also saying goodbye to my best friend who I didn’t expect to say goodbye to. For Chris and I, I think the main thing was that it was very real. Because we were saying goodbye to each other for real, on the show, knowing that we wouldn’t see each other every day for seven months in Vancouver the next year. So we were very much feeling the same emotions as Jasper and Monty, I imagine.

So we really made a point of rehearsing the scene, and then also leaving it very free, so that it could feel messy. That was super important to me, and to Chris, I believe, to make it this authentic, very messy goodbye.

I feel like we’re all fans of each other’s work on the show. During season 3, I sent Chris this fan edit of Jasper and Monty, “Your Mess is Mine,” with a note in an email, before we shot the [original goodbye] scene. Just sort of recapping our journey together, tapping into how far we’ve come and all of that history, and putting that into the scene.

And then it was a surprise and a tear-jerker the next year, when Chris sent me the exact same email with the exact same “Your Mess Is Mine” video. We were basically just saying goodbye — not as friends, because we knew we’d see each other again, but as the characters, saying goodbye to our journey together on this show. Which is heartbreaking as hell.

It really is. And that damn scene. It’s so good, and it’s so sad, and I think one of the the reasons fans are having such strong reactions to it is because you leaned into that emotional realness of it and allowed those characters to be real and honest in a way that I don’t think TV often allows.

Yeah, I was super happy that they got to say I love you to each other, and were able to be that close, physically and emotionally. It just felt right.

What has it meant for you to play a character like Jasper — to not only be a part of this great ensemble, but also to explore and express the emotional reality of PTSD in a way that TV doesn’t often make room for?

I feel extremely grateful for the entire experience, and to have been able to play so many different version of Jasper. At the beginning I was kind of worried about doing this long game because, on some shows, the characters don’t change as much as you’d hope, or you don’t get to show that many different sides of yourself. But the writers did such a great job of that in this show, with the characters. They really do develop and they really do transform and become people you never thought they would become.

I also feel grateful for being able to show that it’s okay to show your emotions, and to be able to release all of these demons and give some sort of portrayal of what coming back from a war might be like. And as for the PTSD aspect, it’s interesting, ’cause I didn’t know that it was so misunderstood until we did it, and until we got those negative reactions. It was shocking, but I guess it just shows that it’s important for these stories to exist. And I hope that the portrayal of it did it some justice, to how people feel, and that it brings some people home, emotionally.

It’s not always that you get to make political statements with your art. Sometimes the acting gig is just telling a story on the surface, but with The 100, I really do feel like we were saying something with these characters and with this storyline. And the responses have made it all worthwhile.

You definitely have made something that feels true, with Jasper, for me and for so many others. The emotional reality of Jasper’s journey is so important, and I think we’re seeing that translate already — one of the most beautiful things to come out of the fandom following Jasper’s death was The Jasper Jordan Project, which I’m sure you’ve seen, which is raising money for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and kind of turning passion for a TV show into this huge positive thing. I feel like that is fandom at its best, and you inspired that.

That really is incredible. It’s truly incredible to see fans of a TV show take initiative towards something that’s happening in real life, with so many people. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have constant anxiety and waves of depression myself, so it’s really nice to see that there’s people out there coming together through this story, and making something good out of it.

It’s really great to have these groups of fans that are so socially aware and very socially conscious, and that are raising hell when things go wrong. It’s inspiring to see people get so passionate over a show — and I don’t mean to put down the idea of ‘oh it’s just a show,’ but it’s just incredible to see the initiative that’s being taken with charities and reaching out to people and connecting around the world.

What do you hope that Jasper’s legacy will be in the fandom?

Hopefully his legacy will be that he was just a kid. He really just wanted to live a life that he never really had, this one on earth that was kind of robbed from him on something like the second day of landing. And hopefully his legacy — it’s hard to say his ‘legacy,’ it seems very dramatic, but then I guess it is — but hopefully he’ll be remembered for the fun-loving kid that he was, and understood for the tortured man that he became. And hopefully people will take from it that it wasn’t the right decision.

I’m just extremely grateful for the entire experience. I felt like we all grew a lot as actors and as people, through this show and through working together and living together, and then through this fandom which is so passionate and has opened our eyes to a lot of things. And the fanart that’s been made has just blown my mind over the past few years. It’s really inspiring to see that it was inspiring. It’s inspired us right back! It’s like some weird Inception-loop of inspiration [laughs].

So I know a lot of fans will probably be really interested in seeing you in other projects, and you’re in Cannes promoting Okja right now! Could you speak a little bit to that?

Yeah! Okja is a beautiful story between a little girl and her best friend, who just happens to be a genetically mutated pig. It’s such a heartfelt, beautiful story, and [director] Bong Joon Ho is honestly one of the greatest filmmakers I’ve ever worked with. I’m such a huge fan of his work.

And it’s so weird. It’s such an odd film. I find that Bong kind of transcends genres, like, if you were to watch The Host and there is a monster that ravages through the town and it’s all horrifying, but then there’ll be a guy in a hazmat suit that slips on some sludge like we’re in a slapstick comedy out of nowhere.

It was really an incredible experience, the cast is insane, and the crew is next level. The experience is one I’ll never forget. The film comes out June 28th on Netflix — it’ll be in some theaters as well, but everyone will be able to see it on Netflix. It’s such a heartfelt story, and also very much about the relationship between human and animal. It opened my eyes a lot, and hopefully it will for many other people as well.

Do you have anything else coming up, or is Okja the main thing right now?

That’s the main thing. I was in London shadowing this filmmaker, Xavier Dolan, on his film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, and that was an incredible experience. Right now, I’m creatively working on something that we hope to shoot next year, and then, you know, putting my toes in the water, feeling what’s out there.

It’s kind of refreshing to have these seven months of this year now open that I haven’t really had for the past four years, so I’m just kinda taking my time with what might be the next right project, and not rushing into anything after that kind of an experience. It’s important to be working on stuff that really makes you think and feel, and I don’t wanna just take ‘a job.’ So I’m looking for my next love now.

That’s wonderful. And I’ll be over here crossing my fingers that all the characters on The 100 have Jasper-centric hallucinations in season 5.

Yes! You and me both.

Thank you to Devon Bostick for taking the time to do this interview, and saying goodbye to the fans. We’ll miss seeing Jasper on The 100, but wish him all the best with his future career. Jasper may be gone, but he’s definitely left a huge impression on the show and the fandom.

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