Julie Benz and Mia Kirshner Dish on DEFIANCE

After months of anticipation and hype, science fiction starved fans will finally get their to experience the world of DEFIANCE.

Set in the not-to-distant future, DEFIANCE introduces an exotically transformed planet Earth, in which seven unique alien races must co-exist peacefully (or as peacefully as a weekly science-fiction set series will allow) with the planet’s surviving humans. Two such humans are sisters played by Julie Benz and Mia Kirshner. Both of whom we had the pleasure of catching up with last week in Toronto to dish on their exciting new series and dabble on a slew of roles that have made them fan favourites.

Firstly, what was it about the DEFIANCE pilot script that attracted you to a role that could presumably last five to seven years?
Julie Benz: What attracted me to the script was how dynamic all the female characters are. They’re extremely complex woman and you just don’t see that too often. In a television script there’s maybe one, hopefully one. I tend to get a lot of scripts with offers to play the wife/mother/victim and what I love about DEFIANCE is you don’t have that. It’s like a cast full of bad ass women.

Your characters play sisters who ended up in two very different careers. Julie, you play the Mayor [Amanda] of the town, while Mia plays is a purveyor of pleasure [Kenya]. Is it safe to say that such opposite career paths may lead to friction as the season progresses?
Julie Benz: Being orphaned as children, Amanda basically raised Kenya and feels very motherly and protective of her. The problem of course is now, as grown adults, she doesn’t see Kenya as an equal. Amanda struggles with what she does for a living which is kind of ironic. All she wants is for her to meet a great guy, settle down have a peaceful life yet if you held a mirror up to Amanda she doesn’t have any of that herself. She buries herself in her work, isolates herself and — as the series progresses — must come to grips and try to understand what her sister does for a living.
Mia Kirshner: Kenya has created a lifestyle for herself. She created this community because it’s something she wanted to do. She may not be the most articulate person, but has found she can express herself through her sexuality and I think in Defiance she has found like minded people. It’s puzzling to her why Amanda doesn’t embrace this world she’s created because Kenya believes it makes people happy.

The town of Defiance is filled with a slew of fantastic aliens. As two of the show’s sole humans, do you regret not getting to sit in that makeup chair every morning?
Both Julie and Mia in unison: No!
Mia Kirshner: I’m so happy and relieved
Julie Benz: I’ve paid my dues in the prosthetic world and feel very fortunate to play the human in the world of aliens.
Mia Kirshner: I’ve actually never worn prosthetics before, but what Jamie Murray, who plays Stahma had to go through, it’s a lot of time and it’s difficult.

The new sheriff in town is played by Grant Bowler. What can we expect from your character’s interactions with him?
Julie Benz: It’s complicated… it’s very complicated… but Amanda does come to rely on Nolan [Bowler]. She senses in him a fairness and that she can rely on him to do the right thing. It’s kind of odd that she just met and he’s making him Sheriff but at the same time I think she respects his history that that he was apart of the defiant few who ended the war.
Mia Kirshner: Kenya likes him because, much like herself, she sees him as an outsider. She’s aware that her way of life isn’t respected by a lot of people in the town and so I think they come together through their otherness.

Julie, just how in over her head is Amanda, having been elected Mayor mere weeks ago?
Julie Benz: Yes, Amanda is in over here head but you will see her grow and change. It’s a dangerous world, the world of DEFIANCE and there is always somebody out to get you and steal your power. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think that’s the point. But she’s a bad ass, certainly more so than Rita.

Speaking of Rita… you both have played characters beloved by millions across the globe. If you could step back into the shoes of one of your former small screen alter-egos, whom would you choose?
Julie Benz: Can I choose four? I would love to experience Darla [from BUFFY/ANGEL] again, especially own that I’m an adult, well more of an adult that I was back then. Stephanie from NO ORDINARY FAMILY, I really loved that show and was so disappointed when it got cancelled. Rita [DEXTER], for obvious reasons, she was so memorable, hopefully sweet and optimistic, but I’d want to play damaged Rita. And I guess the last one, my ultimate favourite would be Robin from DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. She was goofy, silly and fun and I enjoyed her playfulness. Even though she suffered a lot she made lemonade out of some really sour lemons.
Mia Kirshner: Mandy from 24 was so much fun to play, but Jenny would be the one I had the biggest blast playing. To me, what Ilene Chaiken created was a pretty accurate portrayal of a borderline personality as far as the work experience, it was the most special experience I have ever had. I had never spent so long with a group of people, aside from primary school, so we all kind of grew up together over the course of the show’s six/seven years.

As actors who injected life into these roles, is it harder or easier for you to let go of them after a show has come to a close?
Mia Kirshner: I found when THE L WORD ended I had funny reaction, it felt like a loss. I was very sad actually and it was hard to say goodbye. It’s very weird, you know that your character is not actually real but you’ve developed this real attachment, almost this maternal quality to this character you’ve created. It’s sad.
Julie Benz: I defiantly mourned the loss of Rita. I was not expecting that to happen, I was more shocked and I felt that I had failed her somehow. Maybe in choices that I had made I had made her a sitting duck somehow, I felt really awful about it, because she still lives in the books and that’s what was weird. I did go through a mourning process, but my agents were great, they were like you need to mourn. So I sat “Shiva” for a week, got over it and moved on. I gave myself that, one week, and then I was like on to the next thing!

DEFIANCE premieres on Monday April 15 at 9PM on Syfy (10PM on Showcase in Canada)

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