The cast of Defiance

‘Defiance’ set tour: exploring the new world with the cast and filmmakers

by W. Andrew Powell

SyFy’s new series Defiance debuts on television next April, but it’s starting to feel much closer after I had a chance to do a set visit earlier this week, which revealed a lot about the show and how executive producer Kevin Murphy and his team are making this alien world come alive on Earth.

The series, which is set in the not-too-distant future, follows life in the town of Defiance, formerly known as St. Louis, a number of years after a war with aliens races, collectively known as Votans, has left our planet partially terraformed into something not quite Earth-like, and not hospitable to the aliens either.

Forced to come here after their own solar system was destroyed, the aliens have no other option but to find a way to live with the humans now, and humanity finds itself on a planet that barely looks like home, with new troubles facing them in all directions.

Now, normally, when you’re invited onto any set, the word of the day is “discretion”. Media can’t tweet spoilers, we can’t post photos or videos ahead of the show’s release, and we’re told that we can’t just shoot everything we see on set.

Thanks to the great people of SyFy though, the plan for the press tour was to open the doors of Defiance and show off what’s coming from this killer-looking series, which is also being prepared simultaneously as a massive multiplayer game.

On set, the press cohort was treated to breakfast before we were broken into groups to tour the space. My group was lucky enough to be led by Murphy himself, who explained the sets and spaces, and answered just about every question we could think to ask.

Outside NeedWant Lounge

Outside NeedWant Lounge

Walking around the huge studio space, we took in the NeedWant Lounge, we walked the streets of the town, and also saw the character Rafe McCawley’s retro-styled home (McCawley is played by legendary Canadian First Nations actor Graham Greene), which was built to the standards of the old days thanks to the man’s extensive wealth from the local mine.

When asked what the central theme of the series would be, Murphy said, “Inclusion. I think it’s about assimilation, inclusion, about coming together.”

“I like the idea that this is–a lot of shows that take place after an Earth-changing, post-apocalyptic sort of event, are about surviving–this is a show about living, not about surviving,” Murphy said. “This is not a show where there’s the next essential threat every week–where Cylons are trying to completely obliterate us. This is a show about how do we live together in an immigrant community.”

As Murphy explained, the show is science fiction, but the stories are what you would expect in a boom town where lots of different people and cultures come together. As some people on set commented, it’s the equivalent of the wild west set in a strange future. The show is also inclusive because Murphy says it will draw in a variety of fans, whether they like science fiction or not, and that inclusion also reaches out into storylines that will complement the gaming experience as well.

Speaking of the game, the title will launch two weeks before the series debuts, and as the show has been developed, the producers have been working with Trion, the game developer, to tie in characters, plot points, and some of the cast, who have provided motion capture performances for the game. As the cast discussed, the game also allows Defiance to fill in the gaps between seasons, when there is normally nothing happening with the show.

After the tour, we went back to the NeedWant Lounge, and all of the press were assembled for a presentation about the show’s visual effects, languages (linguist David J. Peterson, known for his work on Game of Thrones, created the distinct languages for the alien races), and costumes, in addition to an extended interview with the cast.

The cast on set for our visit included Grant Bowler (playing Jeb Nolan), Tony Curran (Datak Tarr), Graham Greene (Rafe McCawley), Julie Benz (Amanda Rosewater), Mia Kirshner (Kenya), Jaime Murray (Stahma Tarr), and Stephanie Leonidas (Irisa), who all discussed what it was like filming this unique series and the challenges adapting to the languages, and preparing for the roles.

In the coming weeks, watch for videos from the set and interviews with Murphy and some of the cast, but until then, browse through the extensive photo gallery below from the set visit.

Defiance Set Tour Gallery:

Map of Defiance
Map of Defiance
Costume test images - Nolan, Amanda, Kenya
Costume test images - Nolan, Amanda, Kenya
Costume test images - Irisa, Datak, Stahma, Sukar
Costume test images - Irisa, Datak, Stahma, Sukar
Costume test images - Ben, Tirra
Costume test images - Ben, Tirra
Episodic concept images
Episodic concept images
Defiance hand guns
Defiance hand guns
Nolan's side arm with accessories
Nolan's side arm with accessories
Defiance executive producer Kevin Murphy
Defiance executive producer Kevin Murphy
Castithan charge blade
Castithan charge blade
NeedWant Lounge
NeedWant Lounge
NeedWant menu
NeedWant menu
NeedWant bar
NeedWant bar
Kevin Murphy in the NeedWant bar
Kevin Murphy in the NeedWant bar
Closeup on the Needwant bar
Closeup on the Needwant bar
Needwant Lounge
Needwant Lounge
Courtesan chambers
Courtesan chambers
Castithan house
Castithan house
Rafe McCawley's retro living room
Rafe McCawley's retro living room
Rafe McCawley's living room
Rafe McCawley's living room
Rafe McCawley's study
Rafe McCawley's study
Rafe McCawley's study
Rafe McCawley's study
Rafe McCawley's kitchen
Rafe McCawley's kitchen
Rafe McCawley's dining room
Rafe McCawley's dining room
Mayor's office
Mayor's office
Mayor's collectibles
Mayor's collectibles
St. Louis Arch radio station
St. Louis Arch radio station
St. Louis Arch radio station
St. Louis Arch radio station
Streets of Defiance
Streets of Defiance
Streets of Defiance #2
Streets of Defiance #2
Streets of Defiance #3
Streets of Defiance #3
Streets of Defiance #4
Streets of Defiance #4
Outside NeedWant Lounge
Outside NeedWant Lounge
Outside NeedWant Lounge #2
Outside NeedWant Lounge #2
Kevin Murphy on the Defiance set
Kevin Murphy on the Defiance set
Slums of Defiance
Slums of Defiance
Irathient doctor's office
Irathient doctor's office
Irathient doctor's office #2
Irathient doctor's office #2
Irathient doctor's office #3
Irathient doctor's office #3
Irathient doctor's office #4
Irathient doctor's office #4
Irathient doctor's office #5
Irathient doctor's office #5
Irathient doctor's office #6
Irathient doctor's office #6
Streets of Defiance #5
Streets of Defiance #5
Streets of Defiance #6
Streets of Defiance #6
Streets of Defiance #7
Streets of Defiance #7
Kevin Murphy shows off the Defiance set
Kevin Murphy shows off the Defiance set
Defiance junk shop
Defiance junk shop
Defiance butcher shop
Defiance butcher shop
A small Defiance spoiler
A small Defiance spoiler
Defiance building
Defiance building
One scary truck
One scary truck
Subway train turned Defiance cafe
Subway train turned Defiance cafe
Inside the train cafe
Inside the train cafe
Inside the train cafe #2
Inside the train cafe #2
Defiance fuel station
Defiance fuel station
Defiance concept art
Defiance concept art
SyFy Digital Press learn about Defiance visual effects
SyFy Digital Press learn about Defiance visual effects
The cast of Defiance
The cast of Defiance
SyFy Digital Press in the NeedWant Lounge
SyFy Digital Press in the NeedWant Lounge
Showing off Defiance costumes
Showing off Defiance costumes
Defiance costumes #2
Defiance costumes #2
Defiance costumes #3
Defiance costumes #3
Defiance costumes #4
Defiance costumes #4
Defiance costumes #5
Defiance costumes #5
Defiance costumes #6
Defiance costumes #6
Defiance costumes #7
Defiance costumes #7
Posing with the cast
Posing with the cast

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

You may also like