GGUK has a chat with Irisa.
GGUK were invited to meet and interview Stephanie Leonidas, well-known for her character as Irisa Nyira from the hit TV sci-fi series ‘Defiance‘, to celebrate the release of Season One on DVD. There was a brief introduction and meet and greet at Quo Vadis club and restaurant on a steaming hot summer’s day. After some light refreshments and some time to cool down from the sweltering heat, we had the opportunity to sit and interview Stephanie about here role in Defiance.
Q: How does it compare working on the Defiance TV show to other acting jobs you have had in the past, such as Holby City and Whitechapel?
It’s very different, especially with the game running alongside it, it’s a whole new thing for us. It’s quite exciting really and I was lucky enough to have done some green screen before, which helped me with Defiance. I think it can be quite daunting at first; you’re put on a green screen and told to act, while a lot of people coming running towards you. It’s a great experience and it’s nice to do something where you can get to enjoy the character and go on a journey throughout a whole series, so yes, it’s been fun. I’m used to doing dramas, even a film is only eight weeks at most, so actually doing something that’s six months of the year and really just take this character on a journey has been incredible.
Q: How long does the make up take to turn you from Stephanie to Irisa?
It takes a couple of hours. It’s like two hours in the chair in the mornings and then quick as we can in the evenings. It does take quite a while to get it off, at least half an hour to forty minutes. It’s very glued onto my face (laughs). I remember the first time putting it on and looking in the mirror and just kept staring at myself (disbelief look) I kept staring. I know it sounds vain, but it was really exciting, being very different and someone I didn’t recognize.
Q: Did you bring any of your own personality to the character of Irisa?
(long pause and deep thought) My anger (laughs a lot) I guess there are similarities. We are very very different, because she’s a girl growing up in a world where she and her father are trying to understand each other. I guess it’s like a human girl growing up in a way, except she carries knives a lot (laughs) She goes from one to eleven very quickly, which maybe I do sometimes, but yes, there are similarities, but it’s great playing someone that is quite different and it’s been a good challenge.
Q: How have the fans of the show received you? Are you being hounded in the streets yet?
(Laughs a lot) I don’t think anyone really knows who’s under Irisa. It’s weird. One of my neighbours and I were talking away and he was telling me that he was watching this series called ‘Defiance’ and I smiled and I said I was in Defiance and I think he thought I was being a bit weird, and I said I was playing the red-headed one and he was looking at me again, and I said the one with knives and he said ‘Irisia?’ and I said ‘yeah’ and he looked at me disappointed and he said ‘Oh, that’s what you look like in real life’. I think I had disappointed him and he expected me to have the prosthetic on. I don’t want to disappoint too many people.
Q: The season finished with your character falling into the abyss to save Nolan – you are coming back, aren’t you?
Who knows how (laughs a lot) I’m still waiting to see how I come back. There are definitely some exciting things ahead for Irisa. Things aren’t going to be the same for her, for sure.
Q: Season 2 is not set to air until next Summer – why such a long break?
I guess, we’re only just starting to shoot season two now in August and so with all the CGI and stuff that comes after that, there’s a lot of work after we’ve shot it. It just takes a while and in fact we don’t actually stop shooting until Christmas.
Q: You must have been working long hours?
When we were shooting the pilot, it was easily twenty hour days. Obviously once the series had begun, it was like sixteen or eighteen hours. They were long days. The crew worked incredibly hard and we had an amazing crew and I think that’s what really helped, everyone got along really well. It was long hours and when I got back I sort of realised how shattered I was. It’s great and I think the adrenaline gets you through and Irisa is such a firecracker. It helps.
Q: You voiced your character for the Defiance video game, how was that?
It was amazing, obviously you don’t know what to expect until you start playing it. I had these moments where I was shouting ‘help’ and doing these jumping moments (motions with hands) It was brilliant. It was such a new world for me to be part of something like that and I‘ve had a go at playing the game.
Q: That was my next question, Have you played much of the game and if so, how did it feel coming face to face with yourself?
Yeah, I have. I’m not great at it, I won’t claim to be the best of playing it. It’s opened a new world for me as well. I just thought, you can’t be a part of this and not have a go at playing the game and I think it’s actually great for me. Because for anyone who isn’t necessarily a gamer, but watches the series, I think they should definitely give it a go, because like me, it opened a whole new world.
Q: And what do you think of your likeness in the game – are you impressed?
I am. It was kind of shocking though, when you ‘re sat there looking at the pictures and you know it’s Irisa, it feels very strange and really odd and nothing like I’ve felt before. Even when I watch it, I’m so critical of myself anyway, but then I watch it and I guess I look at it in a different way. It’s really strange and a completely new experience.
Q: Do you play many videogames? If so, which ones and on what platforms?
I was always one of those point and click gamers. I’ve fell in love with this game just recently called ‘Machinarium’, which I love. Its very much a mind game, pointing and clicking on things and I used to play games when I was much younger.
My brother and sister love playing games, so for them this has been great to see their sister on a game, it’s just weird. This has basically opened it all up to me again and I’ve really enjoyed it. I love Defiance as a game. It’s very colourful, I love the music, there’s so much there to be enjoyed. It’s like something I’ve never seen before and I’ve been really enjoying getting back into it. I think there are so many avenues it could go down, the game continuing between this season and the next and it could go anywhere with season 2. The fact that’s it’s opening new worlds and trying new things that people playing the game, they have opportunities to enter competitions to be a part of stuff. It’s incredible and one of those things you dream about as a kid. It’s mind-blowing when you sit down and think about it. That these two things are running alongside each other and you’ve got characters coming into the game. It’s such a great interactive way and it’s good that people get to know the characters in a way that you might not normally in a game and so when they are in the game, you know something about them, like Irisa likes knives (laughs a lot) It’s a great way of expanding the gaming world and getting to know these characters.
As Stephanie has said, it’s mind-blowing when you think about it. The Defiance TV show may be in between seasons at the moment, but the game continues and players can undoubtedly look forward to a lot of exciting new content as they wait for Season 2 to begin. Defiance Season 1 was released for DVD and Blu-ray on July 15th, and the Defiance videogame is available now for Xbox360, PS3 and PC.