Hero alive and kicking
Stephanie Leonidas and Grant Bowler. Picture: Joe Pugliese

Tension among devoted fans is rising as the clock counts down to the return of the sci-fi series, Defiance.

Grant Bowler, soon to be seen again on Seven as host of The Amazing Race Australia, plays the lead role of lawkeeper Joshua Nolan in the series. He was happy to share a few details about the future of the post-apocalyptic town of Defiance, where humans and aliens struggle to survive and remain independent.

When we spoke he was back in Australia enjoying the sunshine after he had finished shooting the second season of Defiance in Toronto in sub-zero temperatures.

At the end of the first season, Bowler's character was killed fighting the invading Earth Republic but was brought back to life by the sacrifice of his adopted alien daughter, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas)

"The Earth Republic has moved in and Defiance is now under occupation," he said, describing the coming action. "All of the political and social structures have changed and every single character has had their life turned upside down.

"None of them has the same occupation, none of them has the same living situation, none of them is in the same position socially or economically as they were in at the end of season one."

That includes Nolan, who is in the outer world searching for Irisa. It is a given that he will not stop until he finds her but Bowler says the Irisa he brings back is a very different character.

To tantalise fans, the Syfy channel which airs the show in the US has released five minisodes online. These fill in some of the background of the story, including how Nolan found Irisa.

The arrival of the Earth Republic brings with it some new characters: Niles Pottinger (Jim Murray), who is the new mayor of Defiance, and an Earth Republic soldier Jessica "Berlin" Rai (Anna Hopkins).

Linda Hamilton (Terminator) will take up a recurring guest role as Pilar, the estranged wife of Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), and veteran actor William Atherton (Life) is the Republic's Viceroy Mercado, whose role is to oversee Defiance.

Defiance is filmed in a studio and backlot on the outskirts of Toronto where parts of the town of Defiance, in the old-world St Louis, have been built. "All of our sets are inside/outside," Bowler said. "So from the lawkeeper's office you walk straight out the door and you are in the streets of Defiance."

Bowler does his own stunts, which he says upsets everyone. "They hate that I do my own stunts. I think I let one of them do one take of one shot at the beginning of the season just to keep my executive producer happy and then he sat down in his chair and never got out of it again.

"I do let my stunt boys do rehearsals for me because that is where you tend to get hurt but when it comes time to doing it on camera I prefer to do it myself.

"I am a knucklehead from Brisbane and so throw it at me and I am sure I will be OK at the end of it."

The action does take a toll on his costume, though the iconic leather jacket that he wears as Nolan has survived.

"I'll tell you what doesn't, the pants," he laughed. "It is the gravel on our locations; I would go through 20-25 pairs of trousers a season and about a dozen shirts and six to eight pairs of boots."

Costume details are important to committed sci-fi fans, who frequently dress as their favourite characters when attending fan conventions.

"God bless them, it is remarkable," Bowler said. "I was doing some of the conventions last year and I was meeting myself all dressed up in my lawkeeper's outfit. I had a guy come up to me at a convention and he had this lawkeeper's badge that he asked me to look at. He wanted to know if it was as good as the one in the show and it was better. He gave it to me and I ended up taking it back to Toronto and gave it to the prop boys.

"I love the genre. In New York I was privileged to share the stage with Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and then I went downstairs to sign autographs and I was sitting next to William Shatner (Star Trek).

"It was phenomenal."

The West Australian

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