Stephanie Leonidas Chats About ‘Defiance’ Season 2

Stephanie Leonidas Defiance Interview
Stephanie Leonidas as Irisa (Photo by: Joe Pugliese/Syfy)

The cast of Syfy’s Defiance made the trek to San Diego for the 2014 Comic Con, taking part in a fun Q&A with passionate fans of the series. Season two is currently airing on Thursday nights at 8pm ET/PT and things are rough for the residents – and visitors – to the town of Defiance.

Among the cast members who attended this year’s Comic Con was the lovely Stephanie Leonidas who, after the Q&A with fans, sat down to answer a few questions from journalists as to what we can expect from Irisa over the course of this season.

Stephanie Leonidas Defiance Interview

Are we going to find out more about your character and those tendrils?

Stephanie Leonidas: “You will. You’ll find out a lot more as the season progresses. I don’t think it may be how people expect. I think it’s going to go in a slightly different direction. I don’t think people are going to…already not many people are liking her, let’s just say that. She’s quite hardcore. [Laughing] She’s not an easy girl to live with.”

What is it like to play torn between two worlds?

Stephanie Leonidas: “I feel very schizophrenic on set, if I’m honest. She never failed to shock me how she could always take something to another level. Yeah, she was pretty hardcore. I didn’t get to interact with many of the other characters this season. I’m used to at least being with Nolan, and even their relationship was kind of broken apart and she seemed quite isolated. Even the people that she does meet, she’s kind of throwing tendrils down their throat and we’ve got to figure out what’s going on. So yeah, she’s on a tricky path at the moment. Trickier than ever and I don’t think even she really knows what’s going on.”

What about the physicality of the role, throwing knives and diving and fighting?

Stephanie Leonidas: “It’s a dream! It’s like what you dreamed to do since you were a kid and since I watched Goonies. I’m like, ‘Yes, I get to do it!’ Yeah, I love it and I love that she can be badass – and she really can. She might be this kind of small, swacky creature but she knows how to throw a knife and she will tear someone’s eyes out if she has to. And I love that. I can’t deny I’m absolutely loving it.”

What did you think of her entrance in the season premiere?

Stephanie Leonidas: “Oh yeah, with the flag on her back. She doesn’t make half an entrance, that girl.”

Do you play the Defiance game at all?

Stephanie Leonidas: “I do. You know, less at the moment because I was so bad at it, but Grant [Bowler] used to get us in his trailer and play it. Some exciting stuff actually happens this season with other characters going into the game and also a competition was won that one of the characters comes into this series. She’s a badass Irathient. I think I’m allowed to say that, but she’s great. We don’t work well together, you can tell. Yeah, the game, there’s a lot of exciting stuff coming up.”

What’s the most challenging scene this season?

Stephanie Leonidas: “Without giving too much away, in episode 11 – I think we spoke about it at the panel – there’s a scene between Grant and I. When I think of it, I well up. That’s how hard it was. Yeah, it was a pretty epic scene. I remember everything came to a head with those two characters. Playing it exhausted us for days and it was hard because we hadn’t seen each other for a long time either and so there was all this stuff building up with these characters. And then they threw us together and we were in this tent and stuff happens. Sparks fly. It was hard. It was hard because it was also kind of heartbreaking for us to play that. As father/daughter, and he treats me like his daughter, and he’s my father figure on set so it was kind of really hard. It was like, ‘Please, Irisa, don’t,’ but Irisa does.”

That relationship is the favorite of a lot of viewers.

Stephanie Leonidas: “I feel they’re definitely a vital piece of Defiance. It’s a very interesting relationship, a father/daughter one, not often used like that. And yeah, it’s been great. We’ve really got to play around with that and through the seasons we’ve got to play the loving relationship but also the difficult side. It’s always been nice, especially at these conventions, people coming up and talking about their relationships with their fathers. It’s been really interesting for me because I didn’t think about that side really, people relating to it. It’s been really nice to play. It’s been a gem, actually.”

What’s been your favorite scene to shoot thus far?

Stephanie Leonidas: “You know, if I go back to season one, I do talk about the Johnny Cash scene a lot. It was a fun scene and I just love the fact that you’ve got this alien, I didn’t even think about it until I watched it and it kind of made me smile because there’s this alien girl singing Johnny Cash in a jeep with this human father. Neither of them know what they’re doing but they will relate to each other through this song, and it was just a really nice moment. We had so much fun with it and we’d barely known each other five minutes when we did it, so it really holds true to who they are deep down I think.”

Stephanie Leonidas Defiance Interview
Grant Bowler as Joshua Nolan and Stephanie Leonidas as Irisa Nolan (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy).
Will that relationship continue?

Stephanie Leonidas: “Their relationship I’d say gets pretty rocky as we’ve already seen. I don’t expect them to be singing any time soon. However, I think deep down beyond all of that stuff that they’re going through, I think there’s a love there that takes a lot to be broken, but it really does get tried and tested several times this season. And, again, things don’t turn out so great for them several times. So yeah, it’s not how I’d love it to be right now.”

Have you ever had a fan yell at you for something Irisa did?

Stephanie Leonidas: “Actually a few people have, yeah, come over and been really unhappy about the way I’m treating people. I think people find it shocking how I’m treating Tommy right now, and I agree. I absolutely agree. Irisa, get your stuff together! It’s always interesting and I love the fact that people really care about these characters. I also love the fact that there are these people rooting for Irisa no matter what she does and that means a lot to me because she’s going to really try people’s patience this season.”

Have you had any weird fan experiences?

Stephanie Leonidas: “I’ve been really lucky. Most people have come up and just been really, really lovely. So no one’s thrown any underwear at me. I’ve got no cool stories to tell. Grant, I’m sure, has but I think Irisa holds a pretty cool fan base.”

How long does the makeup take?

Stephanie Leonidas: “It still takes two and a half hours roughly, which isn’t too bad. To be honest, Irisa wouldn’t be Irisa without that kind of prosthetic. I love the fact that it takes out these big, bushy eyebrows and she morphs into something else. They laugh and joke on set because I might try a stunt when I’m in my own clothes and then it all goes terribly wrong and I’m doing it like a real girl. And then the stunt coordinator, Shelly, literally calms everyone down and says, ‘It’s okay. As soon as she’s got that prosthetic on, as soon as she’s in the costume, she’ll do it,’ and I do. I feel invincible as Irisa so that’s who I’ll be cosplaying if the world ends. I’m going to just be Irisa because I’ll know what to do, clearly.”

When the makeup goes on does Stephanie go away?

Stephanie Leonidas: “Definitely. And I feel like because it’s not something I can take off at lunchtime, I kind of stay as Irisa for the whole day. I think we all do very much. The lunch queues are amazing. We’ve got every species of alien you can ever imagine queuing for hamburger and chips. It’s interesting.”

What about a romantic relationship?

Stephanie Leonidas: “You know, I think without even Irisa knowing it, Tommy has always got a place for her in her heart, no matter how much she treats him badly. He seems to always come and rescue her, and I think we’ve already seen a bit of that. So sparks will fly. Sparks will definitely fly.”

Do you have a favorite part of Comic Con?

Stephanie Leonidas: “You know what, I love walking around. There was a Grant Morrison panel this morning and I was so tempted to go but it kind of clashed with ours. I love walking around seeing new stuff and also just meeting people, actually. We’ll be meeting people tomorrow and getting to talk about the show again because it always seems so long in between seasons that we get to do that. I’m excited by this season, I really am.”

Would you ever consider dressing up as Irisa and walking the floor?

Stephanie Leonidas: “You know what, in this heat, no. But it would be cool, but no. I’m already sweating so I think I’d be a sweaty mess. Yeah, it would be cool. Maybe one year.”

Is feeling invincible the best part of playing Irisa?

Stephanie Leonidas: “I think so, just in terms of being able to transform completely, physically, mentally, emotionally. The accent, the languages, there’s nothing really that stands to be very similar to me. Obviously she’s a girl that’s going through stuff and I can relate to some stuff but other than that, she’s got these things coming out her mouth and she’s destructive. She’s like a girl I’ve never played and I love that. I love her strengths though and I admire that. No matter what she goes through, she has this incredible strength that keeps her going and holds people up, and I think holds Nolan up as much as her at times, because it’s not an easy world to live in. I think as an actress anyway, you always strive for the roles that really are challenging and gritty and stuff to really get stuck into. Yeah, she’s a dream to play.”

Can you relate to her in any way?

Stephanie Leonidas: “I think I’ve got a bit of a fiery temper underneath that. You know, I’m sitting here smiling, like she’s so different but you ask my family, they’re like, ‘She’s not so different.’ Yeah, I guess so. You know, I’ve got some Greek blood in me. I know how to be a bit fiery and I love that side that I get to bring out on set so it saves everyone at home having to see it.”

How do you learn the alien dialogue?

Stephanie Leonidas: “Sometimes I make it up until ADR. No, David who created the languages, he’s been absolutely incredible. He’s always there, no matter what time, he seems to always be there at the end of the phone for us to ask him questions, suddenly go, ‘How do you say this again?’ And they send it to us in soundbites so you get to hear it almost like a song. It’s much easier to learn, but I walk around my apartment in Toronto with my French bulldog looking at me going, ‘What the hell are you saying?’ Just kind of singsonging the lines until they get in my head. And some lines never go away and I still don’t know what they mean but they’re in there. It’s fun but it’s again another challenge which has been good fun.”

-By Rebecca Murray

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