Syfy Digital Press Tour 2012 - Day Two - Defiance Q&A

By Jamie Ruby

Syfy Digital Press Tour 2012 - Day Two

Part Two - Defiance Q&A
October 15, 2012

Defiance Q&AIn October I, along with other journalists, were invited to Toronto, Canada for the Syfy Digital Press Tour, where Defiance was one of the series highlighted. Having never received a transcript, I finally decided to sit down and transcribe the full interview in anticipation for the premiere on Monday. Without further adeu...

As part of the Syfy Digital Press Tour, journalists were taken on a tour of the Defiance set.

After arriving in the Need/Want bar at the end of the tour, everyone sat down for presentations. First we heard from Gary Hutzel who gave a VFX presentation, and then we heard from David J. Peterson on the creation of three of the alien languages in Defiance, including Irathient, Castithan, and Indogene.

The main presentation was a Q&A panel with the cast of Defiance, including Grant Bowler, who plays Nolan, Stephanie Leonidas, who portrays the Irathient, Irisa, Julie Benz who plays Amanda Rosewater, Jaime Murray and Tony Curran, who play Castithans Stahma and Datak Tarr, respectively, and Graham Greene, who portrays Rafe McCawley. They were joined by the executive producer of the series, Kevin Murphy, and President of Original Content at Syfy, Mark Stern.

Grant BowlerGrant Bowler, who plays the lawkeeper of Defiance, was asked about the inspiration for Nolan, as he has kind of a “Han Solo, Indiana Jones swagger.” He also talked about the challenges of keeping such a character fresh. “There’re definitely conversations we had a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before this thing even had a script. Kevin and I and Scott Stuart were talking about a character that kind of engendered parts of some of those iconic past characters.

“The interesting thing is with all of these kind of characters, as no doubt with my character eventually, they date, because social morays in our culture moves on. So I think the interesting thing about playing this guy, this kind of classic antihero, is how does he fit now, and how does he fit say five years from now? And that’s the real challenge, is trying to make that kind of a thing constantly contemporary and not let it fall behind.”

Kevin Murphy talked more about the inspiration for Nolan and also Irisa. “[There was an] unexpected sort of an inspiration for his character and Stephanie’s character, it was actually Ryan and Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon. The fact that there’s this father and daughter, the dad’s not really a great guy, and the daughter is wise beyond her years, and they kind of go from town to town, essentially screwing people over, and that’s kind of their backstory.”

Irisa is an Iratient alien and Nolan’s sort of “alien step-child,” according to Leonidas.

Nolan and Irisa arrive in the town of Defiance and meet the other alien races (there are seven Votan races in total) on the series. Besides Leonidas, there were two others who play aliens on the series on the panel, Tony Curran and Jaime Murray.

Curran plays Datak Tarr, Stahma (Murray)’s husband, and he said that he “runs the underworld, the underbelly of Defiance.”

The actors talked at length about speaking the alien languages, which David Peterson created, which they gave examples of. Curran told us, “I think it definitely gives the show a wonderful depth.”

He expanded on that. “David actually has a Castithan , Irathient, and Indogene bible. It has phonetics, the grammar, everything attached to it. It’s a whole total structure to these amazing languages that he’s created.

“So you get [the line] written in say Castithan, and then it’s written phonetically, and then it’s broken down again. So you don’t just end up saying it, you obviously get it.

“And the way I approach it is a repetitive nature for rhythm for me to find the rhythm of the sound and then, you know, to integrate what I’m seeing in English through the Castithan, if you like. So it does transform. It transforms the way you look, the way you sound, and for the aliens in this show, when you speak it, it definitely gives you such a wonderful otherworldly feel that is such a wonderful deep and integral part of the show Defiance.”

Murray concurred. “It was I think it was a real gift, you know, I think, with any character that any actor plays, hopefully every character he plays, has a slightly different rhythm, but I definitely think that learning David’s amazing language…it really influenced the rhythm of my character…Sometimes when you’re kind of working in rhythms it’s almost like a little dance, you know, it’s kind of helps you find your animal if you walk that way, like maybe I’m more like a snake or a crocodile.”

Leonidas has been really getting used to speaking in Irathient. “What’s interesting with the language as well is that we actually have started to understand each other; [Peterson’s] actually created these incredible languages. Actually I know more Irathient then I do anything else really. It’s become real, and we can actually converse with each other now, which is incredible.”

Another one of the humans on the series is Mayor Amanda Rosewater. Julie Benz talked about playing such a character. “After Dexter, I was looking for a very strong dynamic woman to play, and Amanda definitely is that. I mean, she’s the mayor of the town, and it just seemed to be, for me, the flip side. I’ve played very damaged women before, and now I’m playing a very strong character; she’s the idealist of the town. I mean she really believes in Defiance and what Defiance stands for, and she’s pretty much like the voice of Defiance.

“…I really focused on her strength and her power, a lot of it is in the clothes I wear and how I stand…with Amanda I have to be very direct, very clear, and still have a bit of a sense of humor as well.”

There is also Kenya Rosewater, Amanda’s sister, who owns the bar/brothel of the town of Defiance. Mia Kirshner talked about creating the character. “I think first of all, it was really important to me that she’s not a victim; she wants to be there and she loves her job. And I think with this character nothing is what it seems. So she might seem one way, but everything is completely different on the inside.”

She continued on to reveal that some of the actors took a trip to a sex club to get a feel for the character. “It was interesting to see sort of this atmosphere of complete hedonism, and what I really took from that, and different cultures in terms of harems and in terms of use of sexuality, is, it’s a complete free-for-all for fantasy, and it’s a place you go to explore whatever you haven’t been able to explore in the outside world. And she’s sort of the key into this world.”

Graham Green plays the character of Rafe McCawley, and said, “…I run the more legitimate part of town. I own the [McCawley?] Mine, which certain people (Datak is implied) want to get their hands on, but they can’t.”

Defiance will have an abundance of special effects. It can of course be difficult at times, but according to Benz, you have to put your faith in the visual effects team. “You just have to put your faith in the director and the visual effects, and you just have to trust and just pray that you’re actually reacting to what’s really there. And it’s asking a lot of questions, you know, a lot of questions -- trying to get a really good idea, and sometimes they have visuals to show you…You just have to really just take that leap of faith and just trust.”

Curran talked about how it has changed in movies and television with visual effects. “Maybe 15, 20 years ago, what you’d see in movies and the sort of the visual effects area, maybe you couldn’t afford to do then in television, but now I think you’re doing your action off whatever the actor is doing at the time and what’s happening behind you. And I think it’s going to be a visual extravaganza, and it’s going to be definitely as groundbreaking in a spectacular way than anything that’s going to be on television.

“...The depth of the characters is obviously the basis of this town and the show, but there are spectacular visual effects, and the creature effects, and all the prosthetics are so layered to this town. I think that the visual effects and the green screen are going to enhance it beyond anything that I think, that I hope, is on television.”

Stephanie LeonidasAccording to Leonidas they are helped to visualize in other ways. “There’ve been some great storyboards as well so we get to see what these creatures will hopefully look like…and how tall they’ll be. So that’s kind of helped us.”

Bowler added that the green screen gives them scale. “It’s very hard to tell a story about a post-apocalyptic world that exists in the middle of the incredibly unfriendly badlands, if you’re going to stick in the town in the back lot and all kind of hunker down together. We need the green screen in order to show scale, in order to show the other, in order to show what is “not Defiance.” And it’s a vital element; it adds so much bang for our buck that we’d be lost without it…We’re just really, really blessed. We have an incredible team, guys who are taking care of that part for us.”

Defiance will not only be a series, but also a video game and the two will cross over and exist together.  Bowler explained, “There will be in an ongoing…degree of integration. There will actually be characters who physically appear, not just [be] talked about, but actually enter the game, and the player can interact with them in the game universe.

“And that will change, you know, the characters will change, and the when where and why, the storylines of how and why they come to the game and exit back again into the show, will be congruent with both the game and the show. And then we’ve already shot…a number of kind of environmental or climatic events that cross over between the game and the show. There’re also story points that seed the game from the show and will cross from the game back into the show.”

Bowler added, however, that you can enjoy just one. “The show in itself is complete. It is its own experience. What we’ve tried to engineer and what we are trying to engineer, is a new kind of third tier experience which is an additive experience.

“So if you’re both watching the game and the show…there are both major and minor influences both ways in terms of crossover; however because the game in a sense is more malleable than the show, because the nature of shooting a drama is that we script in advance, we shoot, and then it’s really hard to go back and reshoot.”

Kevin Murphy explained a bit more what this means. “The TV show is not like a “choose your own adventure” or like the movie Clue where depending on which theater you went into there would be a different ending in the original theatrical release. We know what we’re doing with the TV show. This is about creating great satisfying, maximizing drama. We’re not letting people with the video game decide which of our characters do we, you know, give a broken leg, or will they succeed or will they fail, but what we will do is create this careful plan. Create a sense that, “oh wow…I’m into the game and I’m into the television show; I’m enjoying these two experiences that holistically create a larger and more immersive experience.” But the TV show is not iterative of the game and vice versa.”

Mark Stern had some more to add. “Call it like almost a like a simulated spontaneity…as you can tell there’s a lot of choreography that’s gone into this…And I think the experience of a viewer as a gamer will feel very much synced with itself. So like Grant mentioned, there are a bunch of changes and you’ll see them sweep across the series world and then into the game, or vice versa. So it will seem like it’s all happening at the same time.”

Murphy continued, “There are big events that the players will be involved in and problems or missions…there are things that the gamers will be doing that set events in motion that will inform the plot of the television show.”

The game for Defiance was released on April 2nd, and the new series starts tomorrow on Syfy.

Please read the full transcript below and stay tuned for more coverage at SciFi Vision.


Syfy Digital Press Tour
Defiance Q&A

October 15, 2012

QUESTION: My question is for Grant. Just looking at pictures, you kind of look like you have Han Solo, Indiana jones swagger and the leather jacket and that. Can you talk about whether anyone inspired your character and what your sense of him is.

GRANT BOWLER: Sure, let me think. I haven’t asked myself that question yet.

JULIE BENZ: He has the Han Solo, Harrison Ford thing going on, without the leather jacket.

JAIME MURRAY: That’s how he comes in in the morning.

JULIE BENZ: That’s a natural swagger.

JAIME MURRAY: He’s Australian.

GRANT BOWLER:  I suppose that goes a little way toward it. Yeah, there’re definitely conversations we had a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before this thing even had a script. Kevin and I and Scott Stuart were talking about a character that kind of engendered parts of some of those iconic past characters.

The interesting thing is with all of these kind of characters, as no doubt with my character eventually, they date, because social morays in our culture moves on. So I think the interesting thing about playing this guy, this kind of classic antihero, is how does he fit now, and how does he fit say five years from now? And that’s the real challenge, is trying to make that kind of a thing constantly contemporary and not let it fall behind, you know. And to do that, basically, I just pray. And turn up to be a knucklehead every day, and hope that sometimes they go down to the park; sometimes I get to the bases.

TONY CURRAN: He does have a touch of John Wayne about him as well. I just realized it.

GRANT BOWLER: It’s the way I walk isn’t it?

JAIME MURRAY: It’s those jeans.

KEVIN MURPHY: [There was an] unexpected sort of an inspiration for his character and Stephanie’s character, it was actually Ryan and Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon. The fact that there’s this father and daughter, the dad’s not really a great guy, and the daughter is wise beyond her years, and they kind of go from town to town, essentially screwing people over, and that’s kind of their backstory. So that always helps me.

(Silence)

TONY CURRAN: Ok, thank you. (laughs)

MARK STERN: We were actually, just before we walked over here, we were talking about the different languages and we have actually three aliens on our panel today. The Tarrs are played by Tony and Jaime, who are Castithans…and then Stephanie Leonidas who plays an Irathient. Do you want to just maybe give us a little Castithan?

TONY CURRAN: Yeah, David J. Peterson is right here who created the language, and it’s been a, I think it definitely gives the show a wonderful depth, to the Indogenes, there’re seven Votan races, here today. Me and my wife Jaime, we play Detak and Stahma; they’re Castithans. Stephanie’s an Irathient. There’s also the Indogenes, and Dave has created this language, so there’s things they say like “[says something in Castithan].”

Jaime MurrayGRAHAM GREENE: Is that with fries?

TONY CURRAN: That’s with fries. But no ice—

JAIME MURRAY: Dressing on the side.

TONY CURRAN: Yes. So if you go in McDonalds and say that line, you will get free fries, yeah.

GRAHAM GREENE: Something else too.

TONY CURRAN: Something else too. So, no, but it’s been a real -- I think I definitely speak for us all -- it gives a real depth to the characters.

JAIME MURRAY: It’s funny, because we obviously learn, David sends us these MP3s and we learn our language separate from each other, and then we come together and I hear Tony do his and vice versa, and the first time I ever did it for him, I was really kind of going for, you know, I really found kind of the musicality of it, and I thought it was quite beautiful, and I was like “[says something in Castithan]” and I did it for him and he said, “Oh my God is that how you’re doing it?” And I said, “Yes,” and he said “We don’t sound anything alike! You sound like a Thai hooker!”…So I decided to make that part of my character! (laughs)

TONY CURRAN:  Stahma Tarr, who Jamie plays, she’s more of a higher caste than Datak. I’m more of a -- I’ve been raised on the streets. She’s a lady, you know, and it’s incredible how they both have come together for them. She probably speaks more properly than I do in Castithan; that’s why she sounds like a Thai hooker.

(Crosstalk)

MAN: It’s a good story.

TONY CURRAN: It’s a good story? (Laughs) So that’s the language.

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: 510: What’s interesting with the language as well is that we actually have started to understand each other; we’ve actually created, well you’ve (David’s) created, these incredible languages. Actually I know more Irathient then I do anything else really. Yeah, it’s become real, and we can actually converse with each other now, which is incredible.

JULIE BENZ: We can also swear in alien.

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: Yeah.

JAIME MURRAY: I was saying to Kevin the other day, I was like trying to argue a point to do with a new shot I had with my character, and I was like, “You know, and Stahma wouldn’t do that! Stahma would be out the door before Datak could say Schtako!” I was like, “What am I talking about?”

TONY CURRAN: 550: It’s great too actually, because you’ll see on some television series, obviously you can’t say the “f bomb,” or whatever, but in the world of Defiance, you can, but obviously maybe that won’t be subtitled. (Laughs)

JAIME MURRAY: Some things I read and I’m like, “You cannot put that even in literature!”

TONY CURRAN: There’s some stuff in there in the recent episodes we’ve got, and it’s like my goodness that’s going to be -- yeah. Translate that!

QUESTION: Julie, you have been on quite a bunch of TV shows, playing very versatile characters, how is your character on this show different from what you’ve done in other shows and how did you prepare for the role?

JULIE BENZ: After Dexter, I was looking for a very strong dynamic woman to play, and Amanda definitely is that. I mean, she’s the mayor of the town, and it just seemed to be, for me, the flip side. I’ve played very damaged women before, and now I’m playing a very strong character; she’s the idealist of the town. I mean she really believes in Defiance and what Defiance stands for, and she’s pretty much like the voice of Defiance. And the way I -- my preparation is always so (unintelligible) it’s always like I’ll sound like the biggest flake if we get into it too deep, but you know, I really focused on her strength and her power, a lot of it is in the clothes I wear and how I stand. You know, like with Rita on Dexter, I could, you know, play with my hair and have a lot more mannerisms and be, you know, kind of fake, but with Amanda I have to be very direct, very clear, and still have a bit of a sense of humor as well.

QUESTION: Since this is a new show for all of us, can you guys go down the line and introduce yourselves and tell us who your characters are a little bit?

GRANT BOWLER: I’m Grant Bowler. I play Jeb Nolan, who is the Lawkeeper of Defiance.

JULIE BENZ: I’m Julie Benz. I play Mayor Amanda Rosewater, and I’m the mayor of Defiance. (Laughs)

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: I’m Stephanie Leonidas and I play Irisa, who is an Irathient alien, kind of his step-child, alien step-child.

GRANT BOWLER: Redheaded step-child.

JULIE BENZ: Literally

JAIME MURRAY: I’m Jaime Murray and I play Stahma Tarr. I’m a Castithan and I am married to the lovely Datak Tarr.

MIA KIRSHNER: I’m Mia Kirshner, and I play Kenya Roswater, and I own this club.

TONY CURRAN: My name’s Tony Curran. I play Datak Tarr, Stahma’s husband, and Datak kind of has a -- he runs the underworld, the underbelly of Defiance.

GRAHAM GREENE: I’m Graham Greene. I play Rafe McCawley, and I run the more legitimate part of town.

TONY CURRAN: Allegedy.

GRAHAM GREENE: I own the [McCawley?] Mine, which certain people want to get their hands on, but they can’t.



QUESTION: As a performer, this show seems to have lots of similarities to a period piece -- a lot of history to learn, a lot of culture to absorb, a lot of different elements to become familiar with before you begin. Can you speak to how you might prepare for that?

MIA KIRSHNER: Yeah, I think that’s a great observation, because I think what is wonderful about the creation of the town is that you see history repeats itself, and it’s almost like a mosaic of different time periods, and different wars, and different cultures coming together, and how these cultures sort of join together. So in a sense, this town is timeless. And for me it almost is futile. And there’s something extremely dangerous in that, and there’s something very savage in that, and very mysterious. So, very good observation.

QUESTION: Just a follow up to that though, with your character in particular, playing kind of the town Madam…

MIA KIRSHNER: Yes.

QUESTION: There’s a lot of potential danger in that type of role, driving you kind of into the visual (unintelligible)…What was it for you in preparing for that that you really wanted to find that made it original?

Mia KirshnerMIA KIRSHNER: Well, I think first of all, it was really important to me that she’s not a victim; she wants to be there and she loves her job. And I think with this character nothing is what it seems. So she might seem one way, but everything is completely different on the inside. I think that she’s a very powerful character, so in terms of my preparation during the pilot – can I tell them about that? –

(Laughter & Crosstalk)

MIA KIRSHNER: Do you mind talking about it?

JULIE BENZ: I know nothing.

MIA KIRSHNER: Some of us, naming no names, I thought that it would be appropriate to take an excursion to a sex club, in Toronto, which was the craziest sex club I’ve ever seen. It was a water themed sex club.

TONY CURRAN:  You’ve been to many?! It was my first time! -- I’ll never be back! (laughs)

MIA KIRSHNER: So, but it was interesting to see sort of this atmosphere of complete hedonism, and what I really took from that, and different cultures in terms of harems and in terms of use of sexuality, is, it’s a complete free-for-all for fantasy, and it’s a place you go to explore whatever you haven’t been able to explore in the outside world. And she’s sort of the key into this world.

JAIME MURRAY: So jealous.

JULIE BENZ: All the hands go up now!

TONY CURRAN (in a funny voice): We’re fully booked for the next six months

QUESTION: This is a question for all the actors. There’s a lot of green screen work on this show, how difficult is it for you to be acting against nothing?

TONY CURRAN: Well, they act against me every day, but that’s par for the course. (everyone laughs) Is it green screen or is it Curran? Oh, it’s Curran, oh well; it’s much the same really.

JULIE BENZ: You know, you just really have to put your faith in the people whose job it is to the visual effects, and you just have to put your faith in the director and the visual effects, and you just have to trust and just pray that you’re actually reacting to what’s really there. And it’s asking a lot of questions, you know, a lot of questions -- trying to get a really good idea, and sometimes they have visuals to show you, but it’s really just kind of—

JAIME MURRAY: Getting the director to pretend to be a monster.

JULIE BENZ: Yeah. You just have to really just take that leap of faith and just trust.

TONY CURRAN: With some of the, like maybe 15, 20 years ago, what you’d see in movies and the sort of the visual effects area, you know, maybe you couldn’t afford to do then in television, but now I think you’re doing your action off whatever the actor is doing at the time and what’s happening behind you. And I think it’s going to be a visual extravaganza, and it’s going to be definitely as groundbreaking in a spectacular way than anything that’s going to be on television.

And by what I’ve seen and who I’ve talked to, David and Mark and Kevin, it’s just going to be -- the depth of the characters is obviously the basis of this town and the show, but there are spectacular visual effects, and the creature effects, and all the prosthetics are so layered to this town. I think that the visual effects and the green screen are going to enhance it beyond anything that I think that I hope is on television.

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: There’ve been some great storyboards as well so we get to see what these creatures will hopefully look like. They’re not going to just put in some Fraggle Rock characters, but so we’ve had a good idea of what a lot of the stuff will look like and how tall they’ll be. So yeah, that’s kind of helped us.

GRANT BOWLER: We’re very lucky we’ve got an extraordinary VFX team, and having them at our disposal, you want to use them as much as you can. Acting in front of green screen is both incredibly -- well it can be really time consuming is the interesting thing. Green screen is much slower, so I think sometimes that’s the most frustrating part of it, you know, because the shot has to be got exactly right for a  number -- more departments than normally when you’re shooting. It has to work for the guys who are going to be doing the VFX as well, and there’s a lot of technical constraints to that, but you know we have those guys. Our guys – I know that Gary and Mike were showing you the stuff -- I mean that stuff is phenomenal; they’re doing it really fast. Like Tony said, you can do it these days much quicker than you could before, and we have them at our disposal.

The other thing is, is it gives us a scale. It’s very hard to tell a story about a post-apocalyptic world that exists in the middle of the, you know, the incredibly unfriendly badlands, if you’re going to stick in the town in the back lot and all kind of hunker down together. We need the green screen in order to show scale, in order to show the other, in order to show what is “not Defiance.” And it’s a vital element; it adds so much bang for our buck that we’d be lost without it. Like I said, we’re just really, really blessed. We have an incredible team, guys who are taking care of that part for us.

The acting part is the same as always, you plant your feet on the ground, you look the other guy in the eye, and you tell the truth. And then something really gnarly’s happening behind you that you can’t see yet.

Buddy of mine, Jeff Fahey, you know Jeff Fahey? – Jeff did the first ever big VFX movie, I think it was Lawnmower Man, and he said when they made that one it was probably the time that an actor needed to trust, because they were getting told this amazing stuff’s going to be happening behind you, but nobody had ever seen it before. So they as a cast were like, “Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh.” We’re very fortunate that there is a culture of green screen these days; we know pretty much we’re not going to be kind of dropped off the balloon, you know, when it comes to the green screen stuff. We know that the team we’ve got is good; so you just kind of trust them.

Graham GreeneGRAHAM GREENE: There’s an element of being five years old again. They can make up any set you want. Because I worked a lot of radio when I was younger -- and you kids wouldn’t know about that -- and we had what we would refer to as “million dollar sets” behind us in radio, and we could dress as what we wanted in our minds, and that’s much like working on green screen. It gives you that beauty of performance, that level of performance, to stretch yourself even further than you realize, than what you’re used to.

JULIE BENZ: Also as actors too, like when you audition, you have to create things that aren’t there, so it’s very similar to auditioning. I’d rather act in front of a green screen than audition any day. But it’s that same thing. I mean we have to go, just to even get that job, we have to be able to create something out of nothing in an environment when there’s nothing there. So…

TONY CURRAN: What were you going to say, Darling?

MIA KIRSHNER: Oh, I was just going to say what I love about the sets is that they’re grounded in reality, a reality that’s sort of flown into the future, and there’s something very much that grounds whatever scene you’re doing in, you know, that this is true, and I think when you look at the set you feel like this is something absolutely realistically that could happen to all of us in the future, and I think that that’s what I love about green screen, is that it feels about sort of the shape of where we’re going to be in the future, I guess.

JAIME MURRAY: And back to what the gentleman said about the period elements, you know, they’re through our costumes; they’re on every set, and so it kind of grounds the set and your costume in things which are very familiar and very real, and then sort of when you do the green screen it’s kind of, you know, you’re grounded in this kind of -- you’ve got this sort of base. And something that however fantastical what we’re going to be creating is, it’s also familiar. You know.

TONY CURRAN: And it’s Julie Benz’s favorite color, so…

JULIE BENZ: It is; it is.

QUESTION: Taking that one step further, there’s going to be some character crossovers between the game and the TV series, right? And so first of all, have you done anything along those lines yet, and if so, has there been mocap; has there been voice work? And if not, if that’s not going to be how it works, what’s it like knowing that your characters will take on another life elsewhere, sort of without you being behind them?

GRANT BOWLER: Well, I had the strange experience of voicing my character in the game and doing the mocap -- the motion capture sessions on creating the movement for the character, before ever doing a rehearsal for the TV show. And that was a really odd thing as an actor, because you know I walked in with the mocap guys and the Trion guys and they were like, “How would your character do this?” And I said, “I don’t know. I don’t know; we’ve never done it. We haven’t put it on the floor yet.” So yeah, the game stuff has been interesting. My character and Steph’s character are in and out of the game and the show in particular, and there will be more crossovers. Yeah, we’ve pretty much I think done—

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: I’ve done some voice stuff.

GRANT BOWLER: Yeah we’ve pretty much done close to the kickoff stuff – I mean, have you done the motion capture yet?

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: No.

GRANT BOWLER: No. So yeah, we do mocap. Uh, the characters are in the game—

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: Show them your moves, Grant. You have three moves.

GRANT BOWLER: I have three -- my avatar has three stances.

JULIE BENZ: Do them!

(Grant Bowler stands up and makes three poses)

JAIME MURRAY: And he uses those in every scene.

JULIE BENZ: Every scene!

GRANT BOWLER: And see now you’ve seen my entire acting repertoire.

JULIE BENZ: He rolls thru--

JAIME MURRAY: It’s basically the show right there.

Julie BenzJULIE BENZ: He rolls through all three every scene.

TONY CURRAN: Were you wearing those pants?--

GRANT BOWLER: I can do it; I can do it in a kilt! I can do them in anything! So the game stuff with the show, yes, there is like that degree of integration. Yes there will be in an ongoing sense that degree of integration. There will actually be characters who physically appear, not just [be] talked about, but actually enter the game, and the player can interact with them in the game universe. And that will change, you know, the characters will change, and the when where and why, the storylines of how and why they come to the game and exit back again into the show, will be congruent with both the game and the show. And then we’ve already shot, athough we won’t mention it now, a number of kind of environmental or climatic events that cross over between the game and the show. There’re also story points that seed the game from the show and will cross from the game back into the show.

We’re very fortunate, you know, in order to do this congruence, in order to find the synthesis between two mediums, we’re very fortunate in that the game is an MMORG, and is there for a pervasive world. It continues to exist even when we start shooting. You need one of these worlds to stop, like reaction, one of them has to stop so that we can receive, reboot, and resynthesize. And from an audience perspective, if you are both watching the show and playing the game, that becomes seamless from your end. But from our end, it gives us the opportunity to see how events unfold in the game and then kind of reengineer so that it’s a congruent universe in the show. That make sense?

JULIE BENZ: Absolutely.

JAIME MURRAY: Yes.

QUESTION: Once again, coming to the game, you said there were congruent points, and so I’m wondering, because I’m a game guy, how big is the influence of the game on the show? Is it just like smaller events that have happened that you’ve already shot, or does the game really have big effects on the show where you still might have to reshoot something or change the script?

GRANT BOWLER: The answer is yes, kind of, yes, no. Let me make that a bit clearer.

JAIME MURRAY: Sounds like a date.

(laughter)

GRANT BOWLER: Honey, we’re going to talk after this panel; we’ll find you someone.

This--yes, there is a congruence; it is immersive. But I think what everybody is at pains to remind people in terms of this, is it’s an additive experience. The game on its own can be played without watching the show. You never need to watch the show; the game is complete.

GRAHAM GREENE: Don’t say that.

GRANT BOWLER: The show in itself is complete. It is its own experience. What we’ve tried to engineer and what we are trying to engineer, is a new kind of third tier experience which is an additive experience. So if you’re both watching the game and the show say, which is the hypothesis we’re talking about right now, yes there are both major and minor events. There are both major and minor influences both ways in terms of crossover; however because the game in a sense is more malleable than the show, because the nature of shooting a drama is that we script in advance, we shoot, and then it’s really hard to go back and reshoot.

KEVIN MURPHY: It’s really hard to extend that we will not be (Crosstalk) the TV show is not like a “choose your own adventure” or like the movie Clue where depending on which theater you went into there would be a different ending in the original theatrical release. We know what we’re doing with the TV show. This is about creating great satisfying, maximizing drama. We’re not letting people with the video game decide which of our characters do we, you know, give a broken leg, or will they succeed or will they fail, but what we will do is create this careful plan. Create a sense that, “oh wow, I’ve been really, if I’m into the game and I’m into the television show; I’m enjoying these two experiences that holistically create a larger and more immersive experience.” But the TV show is not iterative of the game and vice versa.

MARK STERN: Call it like almost a like a simulated spontaneity, so it’s all been, as you can tell there’s a lot of choreography that’s gone into this, and we’re going to talk in more detail about that later when we get to the game stuff. And I think the experience of a viewer as a gamer will feel very much synced with itself. So like Grant mentioned, there are a bunch of changes and you’ll see them sweep across the series world and then into the game, or vice versa. So it will seem like it’s all happening at the same time, but it’s–

KEVIN MURPHY: There are big events that the players will be involved in and problems or missions that will create—and I don’t want to give any more spoilers than we’ve already had walking around the set seeing (unintelligible) -- But there are things that the gamers will be doing that set events in motion that will inform the plot of the television show. So that if you’re watching the television show, you’re going to have that experience in the game –You’ll go, “Oh, that’s where that went.”

MARK STERN: Right from the beginning. And we’ll talk about that as well, but one of the first things the gamers do affects what happens with Grant’s character and Stephanie’s character.

GRANT BOWLER: It’s probably in your first like four hours of playing. There is that roll-on effect, but it’s like slow thunder. You know, like instead of it being an instantaneous kind of, “I do this in the game it occurs on the show.” That’s impossible. What Mark is talking about, that carefully planned kind of simulated spontaneity, that’s what we’re doing. But there is the potential for the other as well, but a more slow boil than “boom boom.”

JAIME MURRAY: And also you’ve got these two platforms which are both talking about the same mythology of the same world, so when we wrap, the game is going to still be going. So I know that I’m going to be enriched by whatever is going on in that world and that mythology’s going to continue, and that mythology is going to influence my work as an actor, and how rich the world is for me and some of the decisions I make when we come back next season.

MARK STERN: That is very exciting for us, those between seasons opportunities that continue to carry on and deepen that whole mythology, and to see that kind of come to fruition for a second season or a third is really exciting.

QUESTION: Earlier when you guys were speaking a language back and forth, I noticed how easily it came out, almost like this is your first language to begin with. I’m always amazed by how actors memorize so much in terms of dialog and such, but what kind of differences do you have to do in preparation for doing the alien language, and also just coming out here and just right off the top of your head just getting ready to share it again. Is it a different type of preparation in terms of bringing together your ability to speak a language, or do you have to understand the language that you’re speaking, or is it more kind of hearing the words and just trying to remember them and repeating them?

TONY CURRAN: Well, I mean the mp3s, I mean David actually has a Castithan , Irathient, and Indogene bible. It has phonetics, the grammar, everything attached to it. It’s a whole total structure to these amazing languages that he’s created. So you get it written in say Castithan, and then it’s written phonetically, and then it’s broken down again. So you don’t just end up saying it, you obviously get it. And the way I approach it is a repetitive nature for rhythm for me to find the rhythm of the sound and then, you know, to integrate what I’m seeing in English through the Castithan, if you like. So it does transform. It transforms the way you look, the way you sound, and for the aliens in this show, when you speak it, it definitely gives you such a wonderful otherworldly feel that is such a wonderful deep and integral part of the show Defiance, the languages I think.

JAIME MURRAY: It was I think it was a real gift, you know, I think, with any character that any actor plays, hopefully every character he plays, has a slightly different rhythm, but I definitely think that learning David’s amazing language, you know -- and sounding like a Thai hooker -- it really influenced the rhythm of my character. Kind of maybe earlier it didn’t take me so long to kind of get there, you know, I kind of felt the creature that she was, and, you know, sometimes when you’re kind of working in rhythms it’s almost like a little dance, you know, it’s kind of helps you find your animal if you walk that way, like maybe I’m more like a snake or a crocodile and I find that earlier on.

GRANT BOWLER: I’m a honey badger. I’m just saying.

TONY CURRAN: He’s an ambidextrous --

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: And each alien language has its own rhythm, like Irathient is very different to Castithan and they all sound—

TONY CURRAN: Give us some Irathient then.

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: You go and put me on the spot! Not while David’s here! But yeah, we’re a little more feral kind of, yeah.

GRANT BOWLER: You are a little more feral, aren’t you?

STEPHANIE LEONIDAS: Yeah.

Mark Stern and Kevin MurphyGRANT BOWLER: That’s the character?...Yeah.

JULIE BENZ: And then at one point during the pilot I had a line, in alien—I barely speak English—and Jaime was helping me and she pointed out that I sounded like an angry little Ewok. That was pretty much the end of my alien.

JAIME MURRAY: I was going, “No, be more angry! Be more angry!” I was like, “Yeah, pull back from the angry, you sound like an angry Ewok.”

JULIE BENZ: And that was my last dive into the alien—

JAIME MURRAY: I like to crush my fellow actors.

TONY CURRAN: But it’s not your first language yet was it, it wasn’t your first language?

JAIME MURRAY: Well, English.

JULIE BENZ: I barely speak English.

MARK STERN: All right, so I think we’re going to stop where we’re at…we’re going to talk to you a little bit more about our alien races, and see what they look like in their full makeup.

Latest Articles