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Interview with Grant Bowler of "Defiance" on
This is my second time speaking with Grant, and he's
always very nice and has a lot to say about the show and his
character. I love his show, and he's one of the main reasons
NBC UNIVERSAL Ė SYFY
Moderator: Maureen Granados
June 9, 2015 12:00 p.m. ET
Operator: Good afternoon. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Defiance Conference Call.
Maureen from Syfy, you may begin your conference.
Maureen Granados: Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today.
We have Grant Bowler with us here who is ready to take your questions about the Season 3 Premiere of Defiance, which is this Friday at 8 oíclock. So without further ado, I will turn it over to Grant and we can open up the line.
Grant Bowler: Hi, everyone.
Operator: Your first question comes from Jamie Ruby. Your line is open.
Jamie Ruby: Hi, Grant. Thanks so much for talking to us today.
Grant Bowler: My pleasure. How are you?
Jamie Ruby: Good. And I really enjoyed the premier. A lot of shocking stuff but really good.
So things have started off kind of different at the beginning of the season with some minds closed and everything and itís kind of a completely different place. Can you talk about kind of your characterís journey this season and maybe about how heís going to try to help Amanda fix the town, I guess?
Grant Bowler: Yes, sure.
You know, weíve obviously established Defiance as not only an incredibly dangerous place to live which, you know, very heavily featured in that first double episode that you just talked about. But also the tenants always been on the verge of disaster or boom or collapse, that really reminds me of, you know, of kind of California in the gold rush and somewhat defined.
And my character of the season is fabulous. Itís Ė Iím really, really happy and grateful for what Kevin got me to do this year. Because heís much more about a story of whatís going on for him in Season 3 than he is about chasing around other people story, which by and large, he was doing in one and two.
So you know, Defiance, as you said, when we set at the beginning of Season 3 is a shell of what it was.
So basically, when Irisa set off and destroyed New York, a new element was created called gulanite. And gulanite is a rock that so hard that no earth-created machinery can penetrate it. So Defiance now sits on this cap, this impenentrable cap, which means the town canít get gulanite which means that they canít follow themselves. And the byproduct of that of course is Nolan and Irisa trapped under the gulanite, and Iíll say theyíre kind of stuck.
So thatís how the back story going in. I know most of you, if not all of you, have seen that first double episodes. So thatís the starting point and the reason why theyíve been trapped in that sleep for so long.
This season is very much about getting the town back on its street; but as always, very much about town survival. I think the town in Season 3, thanks to Rahm Tak is in more peril and actually comes in a more direct attack and direct fight than it ever has before.
Defiance actually gets successfully infiltrated in Season 3 by the enemy force, and directly assaulted. So itís a much more perilous place to live. Itís on its last leg. Thereís no energy that lines for food. There are very little good things sold.
If you look closely in the first few episodes you see that the markets is now moved inside, thereís no outdoor markets anymore because thereís so little to be gained and traded.
So Defiance Ė yes, itís a much set of place. A bit, you know, Soviet Russia in certain 1960s. And you know, Defiance -- sorry, Nolan, Amanda have some very strange bedfellows, again, have to come together in order to put the place back on its feet.
Jamie Ruby: OK. Great.
And as a followup, can you maybe talk about some of the action scenes youíre going to have this season, whether itís fighting or just in general?
Grant Bowler: Iím in so much pain, I canít tell you. Iíve done more fighting this season than you can poke a stick at.
I think in the first three weeks at work, I had something like five or seven fist fights.
Jamie Ruby: Oh my god.
Grant Bowler: And half a dozen gun fights.
So yes, itís been a very busy season that way. Itís been very action-packed. Itís been very much about that kind of action element that we have to the show.
And Stephanie who plays Irisa is also been very busy that way, and also Julie Benz as Amada, and Anna Hopkin as Berlin.
The characters are in a halt. My guy has been Ė I donít think Iíve ever seen him that bloody and bruised. Weíve actually had Ė our only problem with continuity this season is healing my face up fast enough before the next assault on my fight, but I get messed up again.
And at one point, I think in Ė I think itís in the second or third last block, Iím carrying injuries over from about seven episodes and my face is just hamburger.
So itís not very glamorous to be me this season. But itís been fantastic to play because itís been a low, rough and tumbled. Itís been a lot of really good direct confrontation scenes to play a little high-stake drama going on.
So yes, itís been wonderful. I always wake up sore for about a month after though, you know. I think July Iíll be in bed.
Jamie Ruby: Well, itís worth it, I guess, if it comes out good. Thanks a lot.
Grant Bowler: I love it. No, thank you.
Operator: Your next question comes from Tony Tellado. Your line is open.
Tony Tellado: Hi, Grant. Great to talk to you. Weíve been talking since Season 1.
Grant Bowler: Hi, Tony. How are you?
Tony Tellado: Great, great, man.
You know, I Ė one of the things I love, that line in the trailer, Iím coming after you with everything I got. You know, itís almost like weíve been waiting for you to say like that, you know.
And what itís like mentally for him this season? We know the physical part is difficult. Whatís going through his head this season?
Grant Bowler: This season has been fantastic for Nolan. You know, heís vulnerable for a start. And Iíve really enjoyed that.
Heís falling down this season. You know, he has some challenges and he comes apart it seems a couple of times. Weíve always dealt with Nolan thatís so pragmatic, so full with fighting, that you know, he just tends to swallow his blood. Thereís a great old expression, swallow your blood Ė old boxing expression. I think it comes from, you know, those great 1930s heavyweight champs.
But yes, heís always kind of been very much about that, you know, swallowing his blood and moving on. And this season, it catches up with him. This season, he doesnít have another step in it. And thatís been great to play. Itís been great to see in the character too because it really grounds in human as it is for me.
And the other big development in Nolan this season is through that vulnerability, through that Ė you know, not being able to cope with everything, and through his own challenge this season, his relationship with the risk of changes. And that is just on some this season. I canít say how happy I am to have this season with Stephanie.
The relationship is fantastic. Itís always been my favorite part of the show. And it become so much more full because sheís now in a position where she is picking him back up, where sheís supporting him, where sheís trying to figure out whatís going on with him.
And they have to, having an adult-daughter relationship where itís really complex, and itís Ė and it requires compassion on both front, and requires a lot of pressure and understanding from both of them. And they get solely challenged.
Their entire history, the Ė all of his memories about her and bringing her up, directly challenged him this season. And he finds out that the way he parented her or what he thought was the way he parented her wasnít even close to her experience of what went on.
So yes, itís wonderful in those ways.
Tony Tellado: Itís cool.
Since the pilot, when they were first in the car singing together, thatís just Ė I just hooked into that relationship by the way.
Grant Bowler: Yes, me too. And that was one of those great things.
By the way, right at the end, and this is the first spoiler and if the time gets cut off thatís just Maureen killing.
But it comes up again, very late in the season. So youíll have that to look forward to.
Tony Tellado: Thatís awesome.
Can you quickly talk about some of the new faces on this -- on Defiance this year?
Grant Bowler: Absolutely.
Weíve got three major new players. We have Rahm Tak, who we meet in the opening stanza. Heís a warlord, if you like, for the Votanis Collective. And you know, Irisa destroyed the Earth Republic who were the balancing force to the Votanis Collective.
And our big threat in Season 3 initially is that this military, you know, force of alien-based races, was moving north from South America. And so Rahm Tak is the advance god of that Votanis Collective. And heís (bridled) and all he wants to do is raise Defiance, burn it to the ground, and kill every single human being in it.
So heís our first players. And Lee, who played him, did an amazing job. Lee Tergesen, he did an amazing job of playing him with an enormous amount of flare and humor. And heís a genuinely frightening character.
Then we come to the other two major new arrivals, who are the Omec. Now, we established in Season 1 that there were seven races of Votan, we only saw six of them. And in Season 2, we saw the Gulanee, which we thought was the last race of aliens. And they were an energy-based life forms. So thatís why we havenít seen them before.
At the beginning of Season 3, we discovered that there is an eighth race that predated all of the other races called the Omec. And the reason we never heard about them before was that the Votan, the aliens who came to work, you know, saying that they Ė you know, they just wanted to immigrate and peaceful, had deliberately left this race behind. They sabotaged their ships. They destroyed their means of escape, and their rocks, and they left them behind to die.
And itís basically the Votan shame and guilt that means that humans have never heard of this race before. And then our first double episode, the Omec arrived, the father and daughter, Tíevgin and Kindzi, played by Nichole Galicia and Conrad Coates. And they arrived right at the beginning. Although they donít seem to have a problem with humans but boy they got pay back to deliver to the aliens.
Tony Tellado: Sounds great. Iím really looking forward to this year. Itís going to be a lot of fun.
Grant Bowler: You know whatís nice thing about that kind of split, and I only realized this just now talking to you is, Rahm Tak want us to kill every human being in Defiance. And heís on the outskirts and coming.
In the first episode, right and smack that in the middle of town arrived these two aliens. And they donít care about the humans. They want to kill every single alien on the planet. So if they so decide, you know, if they choose that they donít want peace.
So youíve got these wonderful two kinds of groups, if you like, of enemies Ė one hate the humans and one hates the aliens. So itís an interesting dynamic.
Tony Tellado: Yes. It sure sounds like it. Yes, I canít wait.
Grant Bowler: Thank you. Itís good talking to you.
Tony Tellado: Yes. Same here.
Operator: Your next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue. Your line is open.
Suzanne Lanoue: Good morning, Grant.
Grant Bowler: Hi, Suzanne.
Suzanne Lanoue: Hi.
I was wondering if you could tell us what you might have learned in the last couple of years from playing Nolan? What he has taught you?
Grant Bowler: Thatís a great question.
You know, itís a question Iíll probably best answer in five yearsí time, lasting what it is. But itís taught me to be a better father to my daughter in a strange way. That would probably be the biggest things.
Playing that role and that twisted crazy father-daughter relationship is so amazing. It always brings me back to I have to kind - -I have to look at my relationship with my kids, I have to look at my relationship with my daughter in order to find material, if you like, to mind, to play the same.
And so Iím constantly telling over my relationship with my children on my head, and my relationship with my daughter in particular. And examining, you know, my own strengths and weaknesses, where Iím like him, where Iím not like him, you know, what I do well and what I donít do well.
I donít know if I would have done that much examination. In the way I have, in the objective way I have, had I not been playing Nolan? So thatís probably the first biggest thing.
And the second thing is has been leading a cast. You know, and kind of having to be, you know, on deck in a production like Defiance is extremely complex and large every, you know, pretty much every shoot day and try, you know, some of the best of my ability to lead from the front. Thatís been a growth for me. And something I really loved, something I really, really, really have enjoyed. And it has been very fulfilling for me personally.
Suzanne Lanoue: Cool.
And also, you were comparing the town of Defiance to a Gold Rush town. It kind of seems to me like the show has always been really more of a western, like and Old Wild West show than a science fiction show. When youíre filming, does that seem like that to you?
Grant Bowler: Well, it always looks really science fiction to me. Theyíre all running around and there are aliens, (inaudible) attack and the roll is in.
But I do get what you mean. And do you mean what I think it is? I think all of our Ė I think our story is sci-fi but our archetypes are western. So you know, with all these incredibly technological stories, with all these, you know, pure science fiction stories about, you know, uptick and you know, and artificial intelligence, and you know, and faster than light travel, and everything else like that.
But we have a mayor, a law keeper, and doctor, and our archetypes within that town, even the fact that it is a small town isolated in the wilderness, all those mains if you like, all those overwriting archetype are western, the same.
So I think thatís where that comes from. And I think you never get quite Ė you can never get too far away from it when you know, my guys, the law keeper and the doctor is the doctor, and the mayor is the mayor.
But having said that, thereís an ease to archetypes, I think allows us to short-hand a lot of stuff story-wise, which means that we can get into the Ė get into the meat of what weíre trying to do, do story-wise much more quickly. And I think thatís where genre really is strong, you know, where itís very, very useful, is you can assume a lot of things based on the genre as an audience, and get into a story faster without having to establish so much.
Suzanne Lanoue: All right. I can't wait for the rest of the season.
Grant Bowler: Thank you.
Operator: Your next question comes from Courtney Vaudreuil. Your line is open.
Courtney Vaudreuil: Hi, Grant. Thanks for talking this morning. Can you hear me OK?
Grant Bowler: I can. Thanks, Courtney. How are you?
Courtney Vaudreuil: Wonderful.
OK. So my question for you is, obviously going into a second season, youíd been pretty excited having gotten renewed. Whatís the feeling like going into a third season?
Grant Bowler: Like an old man, no.
Some Ė itís fantastic. I mean, itís an interesting landscape television today, isnít it? You know, itís hard enough for shows to get a pilot, little on get a runoff of pilot. It used to be that if you shoot a pilot, you had a fair chance to the season. And it used to be that if you got one youíd be supported and developed three, two or three.
So itís a much parallel universe I think that we all exist in story tellers today. Every season, you know, that you get granted, if you like by the gods, is a sign of fight. And having that third season is wonderful.
You know, I think for me, the first season of anything, and Iíve done a number of shows in a number of countries over the years. And what binds it all together is the first season is your big idea. And you run out your big idea and you see if it grabs and it gets any traction if people identified with it.
The second season is everyoneís ideas. I like to call second season everyoneís best ideas, what everybody would have done if they could have run the universe in Season 1. And I think pretty much every show does that, second season is everyoneís idea.
For me, the sweet spot for nearly everything Iíve ever been in is the third season. So Ė and I feel very much that about Defiance. This is by far the best show weíve delivered. And Iím extremely proud of this season and show.
You know, I think the show grows up in its third season. It figures out Ė it shows why they make it to a third season and does that or it doesnít survive. And I think what happened with our show is that Ė what excited me most go into the third season was a new that we figured out what we are, and what we do well, when weíre on point, when weíre not, and how we best tell stories given, you know, the creature that we are.
And I confer with absolute confidence that we delivered on that. This is the best version of Defiance weíve presented.
So that would be the most exciting thing about Season 3.
Winter, the coldest February in recorded weather history in Toronto was not the things, trying to say enough, that I was most excited about, given the fact that nobody gave me gloves or hats to wear.
But yes, the show looks fantastic even for that, even in things that weíre working against this in Season 3, which was, you know, the weather and the conditions, make the show look even better on screen.
So Iím even, in the end, happy with that.
Courtney Vaudreuil: Do you feel like thereís a level of comfort now that youíve been with the same people for so long that you probablyÖ?
Grant Bowler: Yes. You form a show line. You form a family.
You know, cast, like anything else, itís like any relationship. You know, first you fall in love with each other, and itís all about potential. And the second year, you kind of look at each other and go, who did I wake up next to? And the third year, you know each other.
And the third season is so wonderful because well all have been around each other for a long time now. We know how to work with one another. And we have real friendships, you know, based on lengthy experience of one another, which is really, really good when you got to work everyday. And weíre very lucky on this show because we have a group of just really good human beings, you know, to work with.
Courtney Vaudreuil: Well, thank you so much.
And hopefully Iíll see you at Comic Con next month.
Grant Bowler: I would love it. Thank you.
Operator: Your next question comes from Curt Wagner. Your line is open.
Curt Wagner: Hi, Grant.
A couple of my questions have been answered. But I wanted to ask about, with Defiance always seemingly being a target of someone or some army, why not just move away? What keeps other residents there? And especially your character who, when we first met him in the first season, what sort of, you know, not that interested in other people and everything?
Grant Bowler: Good stuff.
Yes, thatís a good question.
I think itís Ė I think the answer to that lies in the world, you know, which is if you move away and you build something else, then people are just going to want to take that away. So Defiance is also Ė you know, Defiance for me, when weíre at our best, is very much a metaphor for the western world.
You know, you build something and itís good enough, you know, whatís fill the dreams if you build it and he will come? And you know, in modern civilization, if you build something nice enough, people will come and they want it. Theyíll try and take it away from you.
So you know, it may as well just be Defiance, you know. I think thatís that.
I think thereís also the name in the town that this place is built in Defiance of those that want to pull it down. And Defiance of giving up and is, you know, itís partly at least in testament to that spirit that brings people together to improve these circumstances, you know, to put the world back together again.
And I think thatís human nature in essence. You know, we came back from the Dark Ages. We rebuild off, you know, around the world after two world wars. Human beings Ė New York, look at New York. Iím in New York City right now, and you know, I look at New York after 9/11. You know, we have a great ability to come back. And I think thatís the spirit of Defiance.
And I think thatís what Michael recognized when he turned up in that place, that these people are Ė they might not have been as hot as he had been from the world heíd experienced but they had a lot of guts and they deserve a chance. And I think thatís what still keeps him there, that he actually is grown to have a little respect and admiration and love for the town and the people in it.
Curt Wagner: All right.
And then with the Omec coming, I like what you said about theyíre OK with the humans but theyíre not OK with the other alien races who betrayed them.
Grant Bowler: Yes.
Curt Wagner: So are we going to find Nolan sort of playing the peacemaker a lot this season with those two groups?
Grant Bowler: You know, thatís like putting a pig in a soup, isnít it?
Yes, kind of gasoline and pick up a matches in the other -- to a degree. You know, whatís wonderful about Season 3 to me is all of the protagonists that are coming into the show this year, you can reach out and touch. Theyíre individuals and they have therefore individual needs but also individual strengths and weaknesses.
Rahm Tak is a megalomaniac and is quite insane, you know. But heís incredibly effective and very (inaudible). The Omec are very old powerful strong race but, you know, theyíre hubris, theyíre arrogant, the fact that they see every other race as literally a lesser race, thatís the term for them, is probably their wrongdoing.
I donít know whether Nolan this season is much going to play as peacemaker as he is going to play politician. You know, the key to staying alive longer than everybody else in Defiance sometimes I think is giving everyone enough of what they want to keep the whole ball rolling.
And with the Omec, theyíve very dangerous proposition. They Ė we will see as the season goes along that they are very, very powerful creatures. And weíre not actually quite sure whether we could get rid of them if we want to.
Curt Wagner: All right. Theyíre very intriguing.
Grant Bowler: Yes. Theyíre cool. Theyíre really cool development.
Curt Wagner: All right. Thanks!
Grant Bowler: Thank you.
Operator: Again, if you would like to ask a question, please press star-one on your telephone keypad.
Your next question comes from Jaime Ruby. Your line is open.
Jaime Ruby: Hi, again.
So how different are you from your character? I mean do you have any easy times looking back and forth?
Grant Bowler: I started school longer. Thereís just this line in Season 2 when (Panjit) talks about, you know, things at highschool, and heís like a highschool crush and Nolan said he never went to highschool because the war broke out. And yes, I honestly think thatís got something with it.
He Ė you know, he is more pragmatic than me. I man less self-assured, I think. And I question myself a lot more than Nolan does. And sometimes I envy him. Itís funny sometimes youíre doing the character set. Heís much more unequivocal than I am.
Iím probably a little better at using honey to catch bears than Nolan is. Nolan would probably just fight them.
Jaime Ruby: Yes.
Grant Bowler: But you know, itís (horses and courses). I always like to think of Nolan as me with too much coffee and my impulse control removed.
Jaime Ruby: All right.
And what are Ė is there a scene that you can kind of tease about, that youíre most looking forward to people seeing this season?
Grant Bowler: Itís not just the same as an entire episode. Thereís an entire episode where Ė let me figure out how to phrase this, where Nolan and Irisa get to re-experience their relationship, literally re-experience their relationship with one another.
And that relationship gets turned completely on its head, and not only love what goes on first (inaudible) in those scenes, all of them are great scenes for us to play. But I love the story line and the episode as a whole.
I think Ė yes, to times of like being a parent or being a child or Ė I think in that sense, theyíre really interesting questions that come up, you know, what Ė how much is perspective in the relationship and how people have different perspective to that same relationship.
And I also think from Syfy point-of-view, from a television point-of-view, itís a really intriguing story element that was written by Kevin. Itís a fantastic. So yes.
Youíll know it when you get to it. But itís Ė yes. Itís that episode when Nolan and Irisa have to go back and confront their relationships. Itís cool. I love that.
Jaime Ruby: OK. Great. I canít wait. Thanks.
Grant Bowler: Thanks, Jaime.
Operator: There are no further questions at this time. Iíll turn the call back over to the presenters.
Maureen Granados: OK. Great. Thanks guys. That actually works out perfectly because youíre just about out of time.
So thank you so much everyone for taking the time to join us today. And thank you Grant for being here and answering all the great questions that came through.
A transcript to this call will be sent through within the next 24 hours, so look out for that. And if you need anything, you can give me a call here at Syfy. And otherwise, Defiance Premier, this Friday at 8:00.
Grant Bowler: Thank you.
Operator: This concludes todayís conference call. You may now disconnect.
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