Interview with Julie Benz about Defiance and what it’s like to be a bad-ass at 40
Syfy is pulling out all of the stops to promote its post-apocalyptic show Defiance. Julie Benz, one of the many stars on the series, recently chatted with me about what makes Defiance special and why she was drawn to the role that she plays in it.
“I think what sets Defiance apart is that we are really dealing with what happens after the war, after the apocalypse,” Benz said. “How can we rebuild our planet and can aliens and humans live peacefully together? It’s more of an immigration show and less about the actual apocalypse.”
Benz continued by promising that Defiance will be epic with cinematic special effects, unlike anything ever seen on television. As an example, she spoke about what it was like to step foot on the Defiance set for the first time. “It was inspiring and very overwhelming on so many levels because you realize that people had been working on this for, close to five years in development,” she said. “And that the world they created was so multi-layered and rich and fully developed. And, we had to all be basically given a bible of what had already been created so we could step into that world.”
Another thing that sets Defiance apart is that its aliens are not CGI. As an actor, Benz appreciated that. “It’s always great to work with an actor dressed as an alien versus a CGI where there’s nobody there and you have to create it all yourself,” she said. “And it’s so great to see the way the makeup transforms the actor. You look at Doc Yewll. That makeup is so extensive where she’s covered from head to toe. And you don’t see the actor at all. It’s fascinating.”
But she also had great things to say about her co-star and best friend, Jaime Murray. “I think her performance is absolutely brilliant as Stahma and definitely worth tuning in to seeing, especially the bathing scene,” she teased. Just a little something for us to look forward to, right? She also mentioned that she and Murray do not sure a lot of screen time, but when they do, they’re usually like teenagers. “We’re like two bad kids on set when we get together,” Benz joked. “So we cause a lot of trouble off set as well as on set. So I think that it was good to keep us apart during Season 1.”
As far as her own character, Amanda (the mayor of the town of Defiance – formerly St. Louis), is concerned, Benz talked about what drew her to the role. Pointing out that she originally began acting in order to do comedy, she said, “It wasn’t until I met Joss Whedon that all of that changed for me. And what I have discovered over the years is that sci-fi genre material offers better female roles and allows me to be more creative as an actor. The givens are so extreme that you have to bring to life and make believable that it really challenges your imagination more and really forces you to bring your A game everyday.”
But she didn’t stop there. Benz went on to say that women in the science fiction genre are just written better. “And the older you get as a woman, as an actress you see fewer and fewer strong female characters. I feel fortunate that the sci-fi genre still offers the opportunity to be a bad-ass at 40.”
Don’t miss the premiere of Defiance tonight (Monday) on Syfy at 9/8c.