Defiance – Grant Bowler – Here to Stir Sh** up – Exclusive Interview


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Defiance is Premiering tonight and what better time to share the second half of our interview with Grant Bowler than today to learn more about a very talented actor and his character Chief Lawkeeper Jeb Nolan.
First part of the interview is published in BELLO #45 issue of BELLO mag. Photos by Aleksandar Tomovic and interview by Darion Lowenstein.

DL: You are known from most of your roles as being pretty ripped; what’s your secret to staying in shape?

GB: I’m not one of those actors – I just look at the role and go OH CRAP! I’m gonna have to get into shape. I don’t have a trainer; I don’t have a system. I just go do it. When I heard I was shooting the apparently infamous scene in ‘Ugly Betty’ coming out of the pool wearing basically nothing, I wasn’t in particularly great shape. I went on the Red Bull diet, hit the gym two hours a day, and started running everywhere.

DL: I think I see a future sponsorship coming here; it gives you wings, and abs for TV shows! (Laughter) So another role I saw your name come in a lot in the interwebs last year was ‘Liz and Dick’. What attracted you to that role?

GB: The role. I never anticipated the chance to get to play Richard Burton. I couldn’t believe my luck when I was offered it. There was never any way I was gonna look back and not have done it. It was definite as soon as the offer on the table. He was an idol of mine.

DL: Being a fan of yours, I feel like most shows you come in, stir shit up, make people go crazy, and then you peace out – and next you pop up in another show I love.

GB: What I’ve always loved, and this is where ‘Defiance’ is perfect for me, is what I call impact characters. They come in, screw everything up, and make the biggest impact possible. I love those characters that are shit kickers, come in with their boots muddy, and bust everything up – then grin and “K. THX. BYE”!

DL: Exactly – then on to the next one!

GB: As an actor it’s so fun to have these incredibly dynamic characters to play. I get a lot of people saying to me “I was so sad that you got killed off on True Blood.”. I knew he’d die at the end when I started, and the opportunity that afforded me was to play him the ninth degree; you can go this guy is getting it anyways, so let’s push it. I don’t have to make him redeemable, I don’t need to leave space for him to get a girlfriend and move into a house. This guy is gonna go absolutely crazy. There’s a joy in that, where you can go out guns blazing and not worry about the winning the audience back. I’ve always had a soft spot for those kinds of characters and stories.

DL: I was very excited when I first heard about ‘Defiance’ and saw the trailer, and saw you in the lead role, I’m excited to see as an actor how you take a character through multiple seasons.

GB: Pretty much the same; and that’s been part of the joy of ‘Defiance’. Kevin Murphy, the creator and show runner, came to me and knew my work – even from home, he was a fan of ‘Outrageous Fortune’. He knew what he was getting; and it’s been a marriage made in heaven. Kevin kind of writes for me. I have a problem with characters who do the right thing all the time; I don’t understand it. I’m kind of a bonehead, I trip over my own shoelaces and say the wrong thing all the time. Like “How many months pregnant are you?” “I’m NOT!”.

DL: I HAD A BURRITO FOR LUNCH!!!

GB: Exactly. But seeing these characters who always have the perfect thing to say, and they never hurt anyone’s feelings – I love watching characters that I identify with that are muddling their way through. ‘Defiance’ is a really great fit, because I’m meant to be playing an outsider who muddles things up, and so I get to do what I love.

DL: My background is actually producing video games, so when I was at comic con, I heard about ‘Defiance’, and I got so excited – I’m a huge fan of TV, but I also love the world of video games. So the idea really intrigued me, here’s this first big crack at let’s make this TV show and video game together! What were your thoughts?

DL: Exactly – then on to the next one!

GB: As an actor it’s so fun to have these incredibly dynamic characters to play. I get a lot of people saying to me “I was so sad that you got killed off on True Blood.”. I knew he’d die at the end when I started, and the opportunity that afforded me was to play him the ninth degree; you can go this guy is getting it anyways, so let’s push it. I don’t have to make him redeemable, I don’t need to leave space for him to get a girlfriend and move into a house. This guy is gonna go absolutely crazy. There’s a joy in that, where you can go out guns blazing and not worry about the winning the audience back. I’ve always had a soft spot for those kinds of characters and stories.

DL: I was very excited when I first heard about ‘Defiance’ and saw the trailer, and saw you in the lead role, I’m excited to see as an actor how you take a character through multiple seasons.

GB: Pretty much the same; and that’s been part of the joy of ‘Defiance’. Kevin Murphy, the creator and show runner, came to me and knew my work – even from home, he was a fan of ‘Outrageous Fortune’. He knew what he was getting; and it’s been a marriage made in heaven. Kevin kind of writes for me. I have a problem with characters who do the right thing all the time; I don’t understand it. I’m kind of a bonehead, I trip over my own shoelaces and say the wrong thing all the time. Like “How many months pregnant are you?” “I’m NOT!”.

DL: I HAD A BURRITO FOR LUNCH!!!

GB: Exactly. But seeing these characters who always have the perfect thing to say, and they never hurt anyone’s feelings – I love watching characters that I identify with that are muddling their way through. ‘Defiance’ is a really great fit, because I’m meant to be playing an outsider who muddles things up, and so I get to do what I love.

DL: My background is actually producing video games, so when I was at comic con, I heard about ‘Defiance’, and I got so excited – I’m a huge fan of TV, but I also love the world of video games. So the idea really intrigued me, here’s this first big crack at let’s make this TV show and video game together! What were your thoughts?

GB: Oh wow! That’s great. Well the interesting was, ‘Defiance’ has been such an amazingly organic experience. The day I went in to meet them, they had just thrown out the pilot script. I read it and I really liked it, but felt like the script was more of an ending and less of a beginning. When I met with Kevin, the first thing he said to me was “The script you read. It’s gone.” So I said OH OK… what else are you gonna do? And so we sat down for a half hour, and he gave me a verbal pitch and promised I’d like it. Based on their ideas and who they were, we made the agreement on a handshake. Then at the end of the meeting he said – Oh, and there’s a video game as well.

DL: Wow, wild.

GB: I actually shot the scenes for the video game before I shot the pilot – so I established the character by doing motion capture in the video game.

DL: Cool! Did you have the ping pong balls everywhere, dots on your face?

GB: Everything. The ping pong scuba suit. The first thing I did was voice the video game; and the guys from Trion are asking me – would your character do this? Would your character say that? So this is when we started to make the decisions. From an acting perspective, it’s been a collaborative process. I went back and forth between the game and the TV show shoot sequences.

DL: So were you a gamer before?

GB: Oh yeah. I’m a gamer. I actually had a little dip before I came here.

DL: Yeah? What were you playing?

GB: World of Tanks. The great thing about that game is, I can have a few battles then come here. If I’m playing something like EVE Online, I’m in for the 14 hours, and my partners are angry at me and my reps are calling me and don’t know where I am. And I can’t work. Most of those MMORPGS (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), I can only play when I’m not shooting.

DL: WOW! You are a true gamer! You’ve got the true addiction problem we all have. That’s awesome!

GB: I go way back, to the old days, to the first empires in EVE.

DL: Wow. Did you play World of Warcraft at all?

GB: I did a little, but I was more into Everquest. For YEARS. I had my Elf Druid. Says a lot about your personality. I wasn’t a meat shield, I was a Kiter. I played that character all the way up to level 70 or so.

DL: Jeeze. That’s hardcore!

GB: The one that really got me though was EVE Online. It’s such a hardcore gamer game.

DL: Most people have never even heard of it! I’m in shock right now.

GB: Like, game designers play that game.

DL: Typically only super hardcore gamers have ever played that game. Now I have a much better idea of what you do inbetween shooting!

GB: I’m not telling you what my username is. If they find out they’ll just wait for me, camp outside and kill me. That’s what gamers are like.

DL: Do you play tablet or mobile games – I imagine those are easier to play on set.

GB: I’ve played a bit of everything, right now I’m playing Mega Jump, Plants VS Zombies, they are easy to pick up and play.

DL: What do you think of Defiance (the game)? It’s in it’s Beta stage (the last stage of a game before the official release), and fully launches April 4th.

GB: I’m proud of Defiance, I think it’s a kick-ass game, first massively-multiplayer second person shooter, first one to be released across 3 platforms simultaneously, and they are doing stuff that nobody’s ever done before. It’s ground breaking.

DL: Making an MMO is one of the most difficult things you can do in game development; it’s incredible they were able to sync it with the TV show!

GB: Defiance is changing the map for MMORPG’s. Two dynamic productions with two incredibly invested organizations. The beauty of the both the game and the show is in the bible, they’ve put five years into creating both and cross pollinating. We have a two hour pilot which is like a film, all synced with the game, it’s such a rich world.

DL: So how do they interact? Can you witness events that happen on the TV show, then go and see the aftermath in the game or?

GB: It seeds backwards and forwards. The interesting thing is, when the game & show were conceived in the past, the game is the pervasive world, and the game is steady. But in Defiance, it’s almost the opposite, the MMORPG is the pervasive world, it’s always on 24 hours, and the show (initially) is 13 episodes. Elements from the game will appear in the show, as will pieces of the show.

GB: We’ve made it so that you don’t need to play the game to watch the TV show, and you don’t need to watch the show to play the game. But if you do both, you can see it coming; you can watch the show and see hints of things that are coming in the game, and vice versa.

DL: It’s interesting to hear because people have tried things similar to this and it’s never worked. I’ve worked on big movie license games and it’s near impossible to get much communication between the game development teams and the film production teams.

GB: Well, and they speak completely different languages! It’s been a trip; we’ve all had to be very patient, and learn each other’s languages.

DL: And the timelines are so different; an average MMO takes 5 years to build. You can shoot a TV pilot in a matter of months, and quickly course correct or reshoot as needed in weeks. With a game, making major changes can take months and months. I have so much respect for what both production teams have done here.

GB: To get one right is nigh on impossible. What we’ve done is try to get both right at the exact same time!

DL: I can’t wait to see and play both! Thanks for your time!

‘Defiance’: The Game launched April 2nd at defiance.com, and the TV show launches today April 15th on SyFy.

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