Defiance is Syfy’s new futuristic show about humans trying to live alongside several races of aliens. Trying to keep the peace is Mayor Amanda Rosewater, played by Julie Benz, who genre fans know as the seductive vampire Darla in Buffy and Angel. We’ve also seen her in No Ordinary Family, Supernatural and Dexter since her stint on the Joss Whedon fantasy hit, so what is it that draws her to these roles?
“What I love about genre shows is they allow women to be strong,” she tells SciFiNow. “What we see in Defiance are these extremely complicated characters that are so complex and very dynamic and you don’t get to see that very often. You still have a lot of the mother/wife/victim roles in mainstream television but in sci-fi genre shows women are allowed to have more power and that’s one of the things I really love, as well as having to be creative and work within these extreme given circumstances. It’s really challenging as an actor.”
Speaking of challenges, Benz recalls her days on Buffy and Angel as the “best training programme I ever went to”, adding “Darla was so epic in scope, I mean, she was 400 years old. Every week they challenged us as actors, they threw something at us whether it was riding on horseback under fire or being buried alive or having to sing, there was always something where I’d have a moment and say ‘I don’t think I can do this’ (laughs) and so it was great to be challenged in that way and be able to do it, it was very empowering.”
As Darla, she was dusted and resurrected more times than Buffy (and that was a lot). However, in the Season Three episode Lullaby, she pulled at the heartstrings in a final act of redemption: staking herself so that her unborn child could live. Benz recalls the moment she read the script:
“I was up in Vancouver working on Taken and I got the script sent to me and I just sat in my trailer and I cried. I thought, ‘What a beautiful exit to a great character’ and I just felt that it was such a great gift from the writers to Darla, to be able to go out in such an epic way.”
Defiance Season One is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 25 July 2013 for £15.62 from Amazon.co.uk.