Stephanie Leonidas recalls the first time she ventured onto the set of Defiance without her alien headgear.
“I went on set one day without my prosthetic, to watch a scene, and nobody recognized me,” said Leonidas, who is pictured above left.
And it wasn’t as if Leonidas was brand new to the cast.
“It was really funny, because it was, like, two months into shooting,” she said.
Well, it’s certainly true that Irisa Nyira – Leonidas’ character in Defiance – has a look all her own.
Defiance, which debuts across Canada Monday, April 15 on Showcase (and also on Syfy in the United States), is another science fiction series set in a post-apocalyptic world. Why is the future always so bad in science fiction?
Anyway, Defiance in this case is a place – kind of a futuristic wild-west frontier town – set atop the ruins of St. Louis.
Earth has been changed forever by the arrival of seven unique alien races. All of these alien races, not to mention the humans who have survived, are not exactly living in peace and harmony.
Irisa, an alien known as an “Irathient,” has been raised by a human named Joshua Nolan, played by Grant Bowler (pictured above right). Their unconventional alliance faces many dangers, and Irisa has grown up with the general understanding that basically everything and everyone is a threat.
“Irisa is young and she has always just known her life to be her and Nolan,” said Leonidas, who is from Britain. “Suddenly she is surrounded by lots of different characters, human and alien (in the town of Defiance), and she is having to adapt to that.
“Irisa doesn’t really want to interact with the other characters at first, and she eventually has to. I hope a lot of people will relate to some of the stuff Irisa goes through, just because she has grown up in a place that she doesn’t feel comfortable in.
“Anybody who doesn’t feel settled can relate to her story. And she goes through many difficult situations that she has to deal with herself. She doesn’t always feel as if she can turn to Nolan. So she’s quite lonely at points.”
Is it fair to say that Irisa has to become more human?
“Definitely,” Leonidas said. “Although she also is separated by the fact that we do have alien languages, so I speak Irathian in it as well.”
Um, hopefully you had to learn that for the show. You weren’t already speaking it at home, were you?
“Yeah, pretty much,” Leonidas said with a laugh.
“What really attracted me to this series is that it didn’t just feel like aliens, shooting, killing people, a big war. It’s aliens with heart, and they go through quite human experiences as well. So it felt like it was much more than a war piece.
“It’s very character-based and it’s about the heart of each character and the drama of it, really.”
Besides Leonidas and Bowler, Defiance also stars Julie Benz (Amanda Rosewater), Tony Curran (Datak Tarr), Jaime Murray (Stahma Tarr), Graham Greene (Rafe McCawley) and Mia Kirshner (Kenya Rosewater).
Conveniently, if Stephanie Leonidas ever wants to find out what her cast-mates really think about her, she can just take off her prosthetic and wander amongst them undetected.
“That’s a good idea, I might do that,” she said. “I’ll let you know.”