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Where Is the Cast of SYFY’s Defiance Now?
Checking in on the hit SYFY series' stars... now that the post-apocalypse is almost a decade in the rearview mirror.
If you took the creature effects of Farscape, the political intrigue of The Expanse, and tossed in a dash of zany post-apocalyptic seasoning that wouldn’t feel out of place in Bethesda’s Fallout universe, you might end up with something that looks a lot like SYFY’s Defiance. Ahead of its time in many ways (it even had its own lore-connected video game!), the late, great science fiction show ran for three ambitious seasons, ending in 2015 with a series finale that bucked the all-too-common cliffhanger trend with satisfying decisiveness.
Developed by Farscape mastermind Rockne S. O’Bannon, Caprica showrunner Kevin Murphy, and Star Trek small-screen scribe Michael Taylor, Defiance was a big, complex slab of sci-fi that made the most of its genre bona fides. Set in a terraformed Earth populated by a mix of humans and aliens in the aftermath of an early-2000s first-contact event, its titular city — based in the colorfully decrepit ruins of St. Louis — served as the central hub for loads of layered intrigue, all backdropped by a killer score from iconic composer Bear McCreary.
With multiple alien species speaking multiple alien languages right alongside the humans, a show like Defiance needed a sprawling cast to bring its lore-dense story to life. Resident lawman Joshua Nolan (Grant Bolwer) served as viewers’ eyes and ears through all the series' twists and turns, balanced by equally important major characters anchored by a bevy of small-screen star power including Julie Benz, Jaime Murray, Tony Curran, Graham Greene, and more.
With a nostalgic soft spot for one of SYFY’s most inventive series ever, keep on scrolling to catch up on what the Defiance cast has been up to since the show’s final sendoff.
New Zealander Grant Bowler played tough but fair-minded lawkeeper Joshua Nolan in Defiance, occupying a sheriff-like role in the city formerly known as St. Louis while looking out for his adopted alien daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). An acting veteran who got his start in Aussie film and television, Bowler was a super-familiar face to American audiences all throughout the early 2000s, with roles in Lost, True Blood, Ugly Betty, and the Jean-Claude Van Damme action flick Swelter. Best known in Aussie-land for his longtime hosting gig on The Amazing Race Australia, Bowler has had notable post-Defiance parts in the 2015 sci-fi film 400 Days, 2019’s Guns Akimbo (opposite Daniel Radcliffe), and in ABC’s short-lived crime series Reef Break (2019).
Nolan’s adopted daughter and in many ways an emotional touchstone for the series, alien survivor Irisa served as his peacekeeping right hand enforcer, with English actor Stephanie Leonidas in the role. Leonidas came to the series already well known for her starring turn as Helena in the 2005 fantasy feature MirrorMask, as well as her 2011 part opposite Bill Murray in How to Stop Being a Loser. Since Defiance, she’s held down leading roles in mystery series American Gothic (as Sophie Hawthorne), Crackle crime-comedy series Snatch (as Chloe Koen), while guest starring in a number of British series including Agatha Christie's Poirot, Midsomer Murders, and, most recently, Feel Good.
Familiar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans for her series role as Darla (not to mention her award-winning turn as Rita on the original Dexter, as well as a recurring role on ABC’s Desperate Housewives), Julie Benz starred in Defiance as mayor Amanda Rosewater, in charge of guiding the walled city from threats both within and without. Since Defiance’s 2013-2015 run, Benz has been spotted in horror film Havenhurst (2016), opposite Sydney Sweeney in the Blumhouse-produced Nocturne, and in a slew of TV projects including Hawaii Five-O, Training Day, On becoming a God in Central Florida, and Hulu’s teen drama Love, Victor.
Scottish actor Tony Curran has been a genre TV and movie presence going all the way back to the early 2000s, with tons of film appearances in everything from Blade II and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to Underworld: Evolution and Thor: The Dark World. On Defiance, Curran played the conniving Castian survivor Datak Tarr, mayor Rosewater’s chief early-series nemesis and husband to Jaime Murray’s Stahma Tarr. Curran’s post-Defiance roles are almost too numerous to list, but you’ve likely seen him on The CW’s The Flash (as Despero), Sons of Anarchy, and Netflix’s hit historical drama film Outlaw King. Lately, Curran’s been seen over at Disney+, where he played the role of Derrik Weatherby, the Secret Invasion Skrull who hides in plain sight — at least for a time — as an MI6 imposter.
SYFY viewers already had Jaime Murray on their radar for her fan-favorite role as spunky firebrand Helena “H.G.” Wells on Warehouse 13, and her Defiance role was similarly filled with attitude. Murray starred as Castithan upper-crust survivor Stahma Tarr on the series, the wife of Datak Tarr (Tony Curran) and a snooty, scheming thorn in the side of the city’s elected leadership. Murray’s been easy to spot in tons of genre roles since her Defiance days, including ABC’s Once Upon a Time, The CW’s The Originals, and Fox’s Gotham (as Theresa Walker aka Nyssa al Ghul). Most recently, Murray’s lent her distinctive pipes to the cast of Netflix’s animated Castlevania series, giving voice to Dracula anti-devotee character Carmilla.
Fans likely need no introduction to Graham Greene, famous since the 1990s for blockbuster big-screen turns in Dances with Wolves, Thunderheart, Maverick, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Greene starred on Defiance as resident bigwig Rafe McCawley, the owner of the local mine who’s super well-connected as the richest guy in town. Greene’s career has hardly slowed down since Defiance, with major film appearances that include Taylor Sheridan’s Wind River, Molly’s Game, and 2021 horror hit Antlers. On the small screen, he’s held down the role of Malachi Strand on Longmire, featured in a season of Amazon’s Goliath, and even encountered Joel and Ellie in a snowbound episode of The Last of Us. Greene is next set to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, tapped for a yet-unspecified role in the upcoming Disney+ MCU series Echo.
Mia Kirshner’s easy to spot if you’re a Trekkie: She played Spock’s human mother Amanda Grayson in Star Trek: Discovery at Paramount+, while also voicing the same role for a recent episode of the animated Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. On Defiance, Kirshner starred as bar owner Kenya Rosewater, the mayor’s younger sister with a penchant for having friends in the kind of seedy places her big sis doesn’t exactly frequent. Kirshner’s big-screen career dates back to the 1990s, with notable roles in The Crow: City of Angels, Mad City, The Black Dahlia (as missing murder victim Elizabeth Short), and Not Another Teen Movie. Aside from her recent Star Trek work, she also starred opposite Gary Oldman, Evangeline Lilly, and Greg Kinnear in the 2021 crime thriller Crisis.
If you kept up with Supergirl at The CW, you’ve seen Jesse Rath in one of his most notable post-Defiance roles: He played Brainiac 5 (aka Querl Dox) in later seasons of the DC-based series. Rath played the family-letdown game on Defiance as Alak Tarr, son of tightly-wound Castithan couple Datak and Stahma with his own career ideas about what to do with his prominent last name. In addition to Supergirl, Rath’s recent projects have included a leading role in The CW’s No Tomorrow, a cameo in 2019’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and a single-episode showing in the 2018 crime series Gone.
After an early-career string of quick appearances in TV series and small-screen films, Anna Hopkins landed in Defiance as Jessica "Berlin" Rainer, a member of the Earth Republic coalition tasked with spreading its keep-the-peace message. Hopkins is perhaps best known the sci-fi fans these days as journalist Monica Stuart on The Expanse, though she’s stayed busy elsewhere, too: In addition to a steady stream of TV roles in her native Canada, she’s appeared in SYFY’s Dark Matter and Killjoys, on Freeform’s Shadowhunters, and in a creepy installment of hit horror anthology series V/H/S/94.
Versatile English TV actor James Murray has a small-screen career that goes a long way back in his native Britain, with roles in UK projects Coronation Street, All the King’s Men, Primeval, and Midsomer Murders. Murray starred in Defiance as the secretive Earth Republic joiner Niles Pottinger, central to the series’ storyline in Seasons 2 &3. His most notable role since Defiance came in 2019, when he starred opposite Ryan Reynolds in the Michael Bay-directed action thriller 6 Underground. Murray’s next set to appear in Masters of the Air, an upcoming WWII-era drama series bound for Apple TV+.