Julie Benz plays Mayor Amanda Rosewater in Syfy’s “Defiance.” | Joe Pugliese~Syfy
Updated: May 15, 2013 6:25AM
After four seasons on “Dexter,” Julie Benz returns to her genre roots in Syfy’s “Defiance.” The former star of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” plays the mayor of Defiance, which sits atop the ruins of St. Louis in the near future.
Benz said she was drawn to the “Defiance” script because of its strong female characters.
“They’re all forces of their own,” she said, “and you don’t see that very often.”
“Defiance” (debuting at 8 p.m. Monday) is set in an undefined future following the arrival of seven alien races, a war and terraforming of Earth that resulted in new cities arising atop old ones.
Viewers enter the story as former Marine Nolan (Grant Bowler, “Ugly Betty”) and his adopted alien daughter, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas), attempt to scavenge parts from a downed alien spaceship.
A group of unsavory characters called Spirit Riders — the futuristic equivalent of an alien outlaw biker gang, it appears — shows up to give them trouble, leading Nolan and Irisa to escape into Defiance, where Amanda Rosewater (Benz) presides at a statue dedication.
She’s joined by representatives of two of the town’s most prominent (and often clashing) families: Human Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene) runs a local mine; aliens Datak (Tony Curran) and Stahma Tarr (Jamie Murray, “Dexter”) are considered leaders of the town’s white-haired alien population. Naturally, Rafe’s daughter and the Tarrs’ son fall in love “Romeo and Juliet”-style.
Benz said strong female characters are more often found in fantasy and sci-fi than in mainstream drama, which is why she’s often drawn to such projects.
“It gives an opportunity for women to be more bad-ass in many ways,” she said. “I was spoiled early working with Joss Whedon on ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ and playing Darla. Every day I had to make some fantastical element believable.”
Even so, Benz said she’s relieved to play one of the humans on “Defiance,” if only for the relatively brief time she has to spend getting into makeup before filming.
“I’ve had my fair share of prosthetic work in my lifetime. You reach an age where you’re ‘You guys can do that,’ ” she said, gesturing to her “Defiance” co-stars. “I’m perfectly happy showing up for my hour hair-and-makeup call and just looking like myself.”