Comic Con 2014: Talking DEFIANCE with the cast and executive producer
I was lucky enough to be invited to talk to some of the cast of Defiance and one of the hit shows’ Executive Producers during San Diego Comic Con 2014. Julie Benz (Amanda Rosewater), Stephanie Leonidas (Irisa), Jaime Murray (Stahma Tarr), Jesse Rath (Alak Tarr) and Executive Producer Kevin Murphy were all fantastic and gave terrific insights into their characters this season and perhaps beyond!
Recently the storyline included an element of cosplay (people creating costumes, wearing makeup, pretending to be something completely outside themselves) with the humans donning makeup to appear as Casti, specifically Alak’s new human wife, Christie and the Viceroy Mercado.
Jesse Rath: It’s very weird, William Matherton (Viceroy Mercado) putting on that makeup and getting so into it. It was creepy! When we were shooting that scene with all the alien cosplayers, I was there that day on set but I was the only ‘real’ alien there. It was like 200 ‘fake’ aliens, and I was walking around and they were complimenting me on my costume! (laughs) I love cosplay and think they really make the Con; in this world of Defiance it’s almost offensive. Like, a mockery of the alien culture so, Alak does not approve.
Alak has a love for human culture, even marrying a human, but he’s still alien and torn between the two very different backgrounds. Before their marriage, Alak and Christie had a romantic bond around their differences. But now, as Christie tries to acclimate more into the Casti household, those differences are now becoming an issue.
Jesse Rath (Alak Tarr): Alak, like other young Castithan’s, he was born on Earth and all he knows of that planet is what his crazy parents tell him. He loves everything human; their music, their smell, it’s what he loves about his wife! So when he sees her trying to adapt those Casti ways, it rubs him the wrong way. He doesn’t want her to change; he doesn’t want to become his parents. So when he sees Christie dressing up and dancing around with the Viceroy? Yeah, he doesn’t like that at all.
Linda Hamilton will soon join the cast of DEFIANCE as the Pilar, the mother of Christie.
Jesse Rath (Alak Tarr): I have some cool scenes with Linda Hamilton. She’s like this older woman who can dissemble a gun, ANY gun. It’s amazing! I can’t wait for when she shows up on the show, some of my favorite moments of this season are with her. In the trailer that they showed (at panel), there’s a scene with Datak and Stahma at a graveyard. It’s one of my favorite scenes, I’m not in it! It’s just so appropriate, it’s so Shakespearean! I just love it.
Stahma Tarr, the previously subservient matriarch, has grown, gracefully ‘badass’; has she always had this inside her? This plan to rule?
Jaime Murray (Stahma Tarr): I don’t think it ever was that pre-meditated. She’s not vicious! Stahma just doesn’t like objects in her way. When she’s on the move or trying to achieve an objective, if you are in that way you will be removed. But she doesn’t want to hurt you! She doesn’t want to remove you! But she’s very focused and ambitious. I think the situation arose, if her dammed husband hadn’t been so stupid then I don’t think she would’ve been forced to take action. Though I think the (mental) wheels started turning when she started getting close to Kenya (the sister and Madam) sort of made her realize she was living in a New World. Because it wasn’t a New World for Stahma, it was the same old bloody world that her mother had lived and she had lived and every woman in the history of Castithan’s; a very repressive world in that (Casti) culture. And she began to feel some resentment or some kind of questions coming up at the end of the first season, and then Datak kind of power-charged that by getting sent to Camp Reverie.
Stahma and Amanda; how is their relationship going to change as the season progresses?
Julie Benz (Amanda Rosewater): Well, I mean there’s one big secret that Stahma has that could destroy Amanda and would destroy the friendship that develops, I can’t say much but I’d be interested to see how that progresses this season! (And the relationship with Nolan?) There’s a scene coming up where I have a full on breakdown and I rail on him. My goal was to push him over! And he’s just so solid and catches you and puts you back together and puts you back to 1 and it’s just, he’s just so great to work with.
While talking about her experience on Defiance, Julie Benz, wearing a gorgeous black Jeffry Tan dress, spoke about her perspective on what it means for her to work on set, and I found it admirable and amazing!
Julie Benz (Amanda Rosewater): I feel like it’s (a big part of) my job to get the crew home at a decent hour. They are there every single day! Every day I feel like I have to be committed 100%, it’s my job to be able to ‘act fast’ and make sure that I’m invested in my work and be ‘present’ in every single take so that the crew can get home at a decent hour because they are making huge sacrifices to be there every day. So in between, I’m usually quiet and conserving my energy for my next scene.
Irisa is Irathient, which requires Leonidas to wear a pretty extensive prosthetic on her face and contacts to look like Irisa.
Stephanie Leonidas, (Irisa): At first I thought it would feel like a lot of Botox in my forehead but it’s been incredible how much I could move under that prosthetic and it didn’t take long before it just became Irisa. I’ve really enjoyed it, morphing into someone else completely. With the accent and the alien language, it’s really produced something else and that’s exciting!
There’s been some heavy storyline this season for Irisa, the realization of the alien “other life” and having to attach other beings seemingly at random, heavy stuff!
Stephanie Leonidas (Irisa): This season, some of the stuff that we’re seeing, it just gets harder and harder for her and I think can only end in one place for her and it’s just lots of darkness. But hopefully they’ll be back and singing Johnny Cash again soon! She and Nolan have a really intense scene coming up, everything kind of builds to that moment between them; it kind of broke my heart doing it, and his too! It took us days to get over it! But it was a necessary scene for those two.
Finally we got the bubbly and hilarious Executive Producer, Kevin Murphy. Who never fails to tease spoilers!
Executive Producer Kevin Murphy: There is a chance that someone we love a lot might not make it to Season 3. It will be a big emotional deal! (I tried to lead him, “how does it happen??” but he wasn’t biting. Drat!) Oh COME ON! Well what, I can tell you is: if I kill a character? I do it because I want it to have a big impact and set up conflict that happens in subsequent seasons! IF someone were to die this season, it would set up a very complex set of dynamics for Season 3.
All in all, I think this press room gave me so much to look forward to this season on SyFy! DEFIANCE airs Thursday nights at 8/7c on Syfy and I’ll be watching!
For more images from my time in the press room, check out this gallery!