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Interview: ‘Defiance’ star Stephanie Leonidas on new Syfy series.

MySeries talked to the protagonist of ‘Defiance’, Stephanie Leonidas, about the new series which will soon premiere in the Netherlands, some clues as to what is going to happen in the second season that’s about to air in American and her character Irisa.

Defiance’ takes place in the near future, when the Earth has been radically changed by a war with aliens. A new kind of technology has also been developed which has an enormous impact on the flora and fauna. It’s in this new world that father Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) and daughter Irisa (Leonidas) find themselves in a city, where several races try to live in peace and keep the danger out. During the first episode, the bond between father and daughter is tried as Nolan tries to help the mayor with an impending threat. Added to this problem is the fact that Irisa, not Nolan’s biological daughter, comes from the alien race of Irathients. Despite her loyalty to her father, Irisa still feels the desire to find out more about who she really is.

Stephanie Leonidas © Media Tornado

Irisa is a strong, red-headed warrior who can take care of herself. She throws knives, has her own opinion and won’t let anyone mess with her. Stephanie Leonidas (30), a beautiful British woman, is unrecognisable when covered by make-up and a red wig. ‘Initially, I couldn’t believe it was me. Until they took off the wig and prosthetics. It’s great to change like this for a part. Irisa is completely different than me. I admire her strength. Even when she’s put in a tough spot, you can see that strength. She might be tiny, but physically she is able to stand her ground.’

The fact that Irisa is an alien creates friction between the two protagonists. ‘Irisa and Nolan will always have a bumpy relationship. She’s growing up, but she’s also an alien. So he has to deal with a daughter who has both human and alien problems. That’ll never be easy,’ says Leonidas. ‘The piece has a heart. There’s actual human tragedy. Even though there are aliens and everything is different, there is still this human tragedy and I think people will really identify with that.’ Irisa’s quest for her past and how to cohabitate with Nolan starts in the first episode. ‘She’s raised by a human and she sometimes forgets where she’s really from.’

Stephanie Leonidas and Grant Bowler © Media Tornado

Whilst the two protagonist have a difficult relationship, the world around them is also complicated. In ‘Defiance’ there are many races. The series has a very extensive mythology. ‘At the beginning they gave us a sort of Bible. There’s a lot of history. There are so many characters and they each have their own story. You get to know those stories as the show progresses,’ says Leonidas. In that sense, ‘Defiance’ is a proper science-fiction show. It’s one of Syfy’s few original series and at the same time one of the most ambitious. It cost Syfy about 100 million dollars to produce the first series, a figure similar to what Netflix paid for two seasons of ‘House of Cards’. Besides the series, the channel also launched an extensive video game with a storyline closely connected to the series. Leonidas also voices the character of Irisa for the game.

The series received mixed reviews in the United States and the other 55 countries it premiered last year. The ratings where enough for Syfy to order a second season, but not so high that the risky show is completely safe. Nevertheless, the show has managed to attract a loyal fan base. Leonidas can promise them more action in the second season. ‘We got to do more physical stuff in the second season. Without giving too much away, the series is building towards a completely different story for Irisa. Everything can be expected,’ giggles the small brunette, of whom it’s hard to believe she can play a tough alien.

Defiance’ can be seen on Syfy from Wednesday 30 April at 9 pm.
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