TORONTO — A lot has changed in Defiance, the community built in the ruins of St. Louis more than three decades in the future — since the series of the same name ended its inaugural season last year.
Fans are eager to find out what happens to Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his Irathient daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas), Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz), Stahma Tarr (Jaime Murray) the Castithan and mine owner Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene).
Ahead of the Season 2 premiere of Defiance (Thursday, June 19 at 10pm on Showcase) Global News sat down with Bowler, Leonidas, Benz, Murray and Greene.
What can you share about the second season?
Greene: Season One was a set-up for everything and we were still feeling out what we were doing, and the writers were still feeling out what we were doing, and this season adds a little more substance.
Benz: Amanda has lost her job, her ex-husband has died, her sister’s disappeared. She’s starting in a very dark place. She’s unemployed and she’s lost everything. Scotch has become her friend. (laughs) One of her big struggles is where does she fit in? There’s a great line. She says: “I know what it’s like to have power and I know what it’s like to not have power. Having it’s better.” It’s kind of her motto in many ways. She’s lost everything and she doesn’t know where she fits in in this town of Defiance. And who knows what keeps her there? She doesn’t really have a good support team around her so she’s sort of on her own.
Leonidas: She’s left in a really dark place and she doesn’t know who she is. All she knows is she would do anything for [Nolan] and that’s why she jumped and suddenly they’ve both been separated. I wish I could say more.
Bowler: She’s also going through something that nobody on the planet is going through. From [Nolan’s] perspective, he doesn’t know how much of that is her just being an Irathient or being a girl. She’s got a big journey and so the relationship is very difficult. Neither of them are naturals in relationships. They both find intimacy probably the most alien thing in the world.
Leonidas: I don’t think they’re ever going to be the same again. They’ve both grown and she’s growing as a woman. She’s lost a lot of her innocence in many ways that were out of her control.
Has it felt different working on the second season?
Benz: It’s a double-edged sword because with Season One there’s a lot of nerves about like, are people going to be watching this? Is this something that fans are going to like? You just don’t know. But with Season Two we actually have a standard to keep up and make it even more exciting and more dynamic.
Murray: When I watched the first season I became big fans of my colleagues and that’s a really lovely thing when you’re on a show — to actually become a true fan of the people that you’re working with, even when you’re not in scenes with them. So it’s really nice to come back and be inspired by the people that I work with.
Greene: It’s starting to get to the point now that we can just walk on set and go “Yeah.” There’s really no discussion about what’s going on. It’s “let’s do this.”
Murray: The writers have got a huge cast to deal with and the director’s got decisions about visuals and how things are going to look so what happens is it’s so big that you actually have more opportunity to create because all those people sometimes, on other jobs, they’d be able to control everything but when something’s this big you can’t control everything and we can go to the director or producers or writers and suggest an idea and they’ll use that. So I really feel as though this genre and particularly this show really fosters a high level of creativity, almost like in theatre. Everybody’s really good at their job and they’re bringing a lot, so it’s great.
Defiance is an American show filmed in Toronto with an international cast (Benz is American; Bowler is Australian; Leonidas and Murray are British; and Greene is Canadian).
Bowler: It wasn’t intended. Nobody designed it that we’d have such a multicultural cast. But when you’re dealing with a show that’s about different races and species getting along together it’s kind of perfect. Everyone has a slightly different culture. We all kind of fit. There’s an ethos at the centre of it all that tends to work.
Benz: I’m the only American. It’s great to be on a show where the cast is so multicultural as well because it adds weight to it.
Julie, you have spent a lot of time in Toronto working on movies (2008’s Saw V and 2009’s The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day) and now Defiance.
Benz: Toronto is one of my favourite cities. There’s always so many great things to do here. I went to a Toronto FC game, I went to a Marlies game. I was supposed to go to a Raptors game but it was the night of our wrap party. I went to Caribana, I went to the Ex, the CN Tower. I was like the biggest tourist in Toronto. I ate my way through all the great restaurants. It’s so much fun. I love it. My husband and I always say we should just move up here and live here permanently — but you guys have snow. I haven’t been here in snow.
Do you use social media to stay connected to fans of the show?
Bowler: I do a lot. We actually have quite a social media savvy cast, which is good. It’s interesting. You get more feedback now on a moment-by-moment basis to an episode than ever before. It’s such an immediate and personal relationship.
Greene: I wouldn’t know a blog from a tweet from an email.
Murray: I was initially quite scared of Twitter. I didn’t really understand it. Julie had a presence on Twitter before I did and she sat me down one day and set my account up for me. I used to get really nervous when I tweeted. I’d actually get anxious. Now it’s just like a conversation and it’s a real authentic transaction between a fan base and me. I feel like the people who follow me on Twitter have the same kind of snarky sense of humour that I do. I recognize some of them on my feed and it’s cool.
How do you feel about the dedication that fans have for the show and your characters?
Benz: I had the same experience when I was on Buffy and Angel, where you have fans that are just as passionate about the show as we are making it. It helps fuel our passion, having that synergy with fans. It’s so great to see teenagers come up and say “I watch the show with my parents.” How many shows can you actually watch with your parents and both sides are going to like?
Bowler: There’s a comfort about the fact that you’ve found an audience. The hardest thing about making television is you’re storytelling in a long form. You have no idea if your audience is going to hold in there with you for the duration. And when you tell a story across that length of time you’re also making an investment in future storytelling. So the first thing is an incredible sense of relief: OK, we found an audience, we can continue to tell this story.
Benz: For a long time we did not have aliens on TV. Like, real science fiction. We had fantasy shows, we had genre shows but for a long time we did not have science fiction. At its core, this is science fiction. This is aliens and humans. This gets back to the core of what science fiction is and that’s what audiences were craving.
Give us some insight into how you play your characters.
Murray: It’s such an intricate storyline and yet I never feel as though I’m doing exposition. I always feel like I’m playing a character and I’m playing a relationship and that’s a real joy. Between “action” and “cut” it’s so joyful. I’m not saying ridiculous things because I’m trying to remind the audience about what happened last week and that’s really the skill of great writers. They’re managing to give you this complex world without overloading us with boring crap that makes us want to shoot ourselves.
Bowler: There’s a lot of John Wayne in Nolan. It’s always about going back and paying homage. We seed things in — very little-known lines from great old movies, if you ever have the patience and want to go back. I put a lot of those old Western iconic characters — the Gary Cooper characters and the John Wayne characters — into Nolan. Those values. If you go back and watch John Wayne in The Shootist or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, he played some really gnarly guys. They weren’t kind men but he had a code and he had a set of values. He was very complex characters. Those old antiheros there are a place for now. It’s interesting taking an archetype like the antihero and trying to update it.
Do you believe in aliens?
Greene: Oh yeah. I was abducted once.
Murray: You’ve been trying to go back ever since.
Greene: That’s what I tell everybody when I lose something. “They took it!” [The universe] is so huge. How could it possibly be just us?
Murray: Yeah, it’s so narcissistically human of us to think that we could be the only life form. We are descendants of aliens. That may have been the missing link and that may be what made us stand up in the first place. I think we are all aliens.
Greene: Yeah, there’s a big chunk of evolution that they can’t account for. All of a sudden a big chunk of our evolution is gone.
Murray: If you actually boil down a lot of religions there’s always something that, thousands of years ago when the scripts were written, is unexplainable that kind of ties it all together. Maybe that was aliens.
Benz: I do believe in aliens. They still haven’t contacted me. I’m not looking for contact. I believe in them but I don’t want to meet them.
Bowler: I think there is — but we won’t say anything nasty about Graham Greene right now. (laughs)
Season 2 of Defiance premieres June 19 at 10pm on Showcase, which is owned by Global News parent company Shaw Media.
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