Actors in sci-fi projects have to deal with elements that performers in other genres never face including special effects make-up. Think about it. For years, LeVar Burton had to stare through what was little more than a modified car air filter to play Commander Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” (Updated to correct name spelling.)
Stephanie Leonidas, who portrays Irathient alien Irisa on the new Syfy Channel series “Defiance,” doesn’t have to look through a car part to do her job but she does have to deal with a prosthetic pieces across the bridge of her nose. Looking at her, the make-up just looks like a cool way to create the kind of otherworld look needed for the character. She has to look out through the make-up and while the prosthetic piece is small, it’s affected how she acts.
“At first, I didn’t think I would be able to move my face,” Leonidas says during a party to promote the new sci-fi series. “Actually, quite quickly it became a part of Irisa. Even the way I would move my face differently became part of her.”
Leonidas never felt like she owned the character during rehearsals and it wasn’t until she got the full make-up that she understood how to play the character. She felt like a completely different person — an alien with a very aggressive and physical side. That’s quite different from the soft-spoken actress standing in front of me who looks more suited for a teen angst drama than a series about aliens who have come to live on Earth.
She says that the stunt coordinator on the show jokes that she’s not able to do any action scenes until her alien contact lenses are in place.
“It helps the process transforming like that,” Leonidas says.
It’s hard to tell if the British actress is just happy to be on such a big cable channel project or she’s being honest about wearing the alien make-up but she tells me “it’s amazing how quickly you get use to it.”
“Defiance” starts April 15 on the Syfy.