FedCon24: Grant Bowler and Rob Archer Panel on Defiance Recap
Last weekend I attended FedCon24, a SciFi convention in Düsseldorf, Germany. One of the shows in the spotlight was Defiance, represented by Grant Bowler and Rob Archer. Both actors had their individual Q&A panel and also a joint Q&A panel.
Rob Archer is well known for his role as Bruce in Lost Girl. Bruce is often referred to as a “gentle giant” which exactly the way anyone would describe Archer. He is 6’6″, very muscular, and covered in tattoos. He also played the roles of the BioMan and Churchill in Defiance. Although at first glance he is very intimidating, you will find that he is a lovely, sweet guy once you get to know him. Grant Bowler plays Joshua Nolan in Defiance, but we all remember him as Cooter in True Blood or Connor Owens in Ugly Betty. Bowler was a crowd favorite throughout the whole weekend.
During his panel, Archer discussed his relatively recent acting career. Before becoming an actor, he was mostly known as a stuntman. He is actually one of the largest stuntmen in Canada. According to him, “Stuntmen do not get the recognition they deserve. They work a lot and get injured a lot only for low pay.” For him, doing stunts is like breathing, but acting requires a lot more work. He is currently trying to find roles with more depth than he has had so far. He would like to play a character “completely different from [him] like a flamboyant gay man!” Archer confessed that Bruce was his favorite role. And for those of us who wonder what happened to Bruce in Lost Girl after being freed by Tamsin and Kenzi, rejoice! Archer revealed that Bruce will be back for a small appearance in Season 5.
Grant Bowler’s panel was one of the funniest I have ever been to. He had the audience in tears by doing impressions of fellow Defiance actor Tony Curran and recounting anecdotes from the set of True Blood. Answering a question on how he was able to keep a straight face while acting like a wolf on True Blood, he explained that “The darker the thing you do, the funnier it gets on set. Because the thing you do is so horrible, you have to laugh. Everyone starts to get very giggly.” His first time on set, he had never met any of the other actors. In his first scene, he was choking Stephen Moyer with a chain in the back of a car. “The two guys at the front of the car were sucking Steve’s blood and they decided that they would swap the blood from one of their mouth into the other while Steve and I are half naked in the back of the car. We just started giggling and blew about 14 takes in a row. Steve and I became really good friends that day.”
Bowler said that True Blood was always a laugh: “Towards the end of the season, Britt, the actress who plays Debbie, and I were trying to kill Steve in a barn. Alan Ball, the creator of the show, was directing that day. In the scene, Britt and I had very little dialogue. All we were meant to do was lick blood off Steve, who by now is a friend of mine! Basically, Steve is lying on his back, I am on one side of him, Britt is on the other side and we’re both feeding on him. In one of the takes, we were licking him and at some point, we started licking the same breast. Our tongues met and because we’re both in character, we started kissing! Nobody called cut. Then my shirt came off. Then Britt’s shirt came off. We lost track of time and we lost track of Steve. We were making out, covered in blood, using Steve Moyer as a mattress. It was the shaking of his body as he was laughing hysterically that made Alan Ball call cut. Britt and I came out of our characters. We both looked up at Alan and I said ‘Too much?’Alan Ball smiled and said ‘I don’t know, let’s do it again and find out.'” Now, imagine hearing this story while watching Bowler reenact it on stage. It was quite a treat.
Regarding his role in Defiance, Bowler revealed that he almost did not get the part. Many years ago, he had told his agent he didn’t want to be in a SciFi show again after playing a purple alien in Farscape. He is not good at standing still and did not enjoy spending seven hours in the make-up trailer. Therefore, when his agent received the script for Defiance, he did not tell Bowler about it. Since then, Bowler clarified with him that only scripts where the role is an alien should be refused, not all SciFi.
Bowler shared a small story about Season 3 with us. Defiance is shot in Toronto, Canada and this year was the first time they started production in the winter which happened to be the coldest winter Canada has ever had. “As you have noticed, my character doesn’t wear gloves or hats. It was -35°C! I can’t say too much about S3 without getting into trouble but I can say this: Nolan and Irisa wake up covered in snow, deep in the wilderness. That’s exactly what we shot. That morning, 3 feet of snow fell. No hats, no gloves… and in between takes, they came in with buckets of snow. I didn’t know a human being could shake that hard! On the bright side, Steph [Leonidas] and I love shooting on location, just the two of us and some people to kill, ships to wreck…”
Bowler only had good words for his co-stars on the show. He described Stephanie Leonidas as an amazing actress, Mia Kirshner as “A free spirit, a sweetie, she’s not like her character on The L Word.” He also praised his co-lead Julie Benz: “She is one of the most professional actors I have ever worked with. […] We work very well together, we have the same philosophy.” Some of his favorite scenes with Benz are “The moments when we get rid of all the bells and whistles like when Amanda’s sister died.” Without giving us any details, he said his favorite scene with Benz is during the first episode of Season 3. Bowler addressed the lack of scenes between his character and Datak Tarr (Tony Curran) in Season 2 and revealed that they have a lot more scenes in Season 3.
Answering a question about his craziest scene in Defiance, Bowler immediately mentioned his fight with Archer’s BioMan: “The first time I fought a BioMan, someone else was hired to be the BioMan. Not Rob. The guy turned up drunk so we had no BioMan. They hired Rob; he didn’t know anything about the scene but he did it all in one day.” Archer explained that he learned the stunts in 15 minutes, but the scene took 16 hours to shoot! Both complained that the mat they fought on was only an inch thick, so falling really hurt. Archer said that to this date, BioMan was his biggest audition. To turn into the blue giant, he has to get three layers of paint on his skin to cover up his tattoos. The only modifications to his body are the neck and a head piece, the rest is entirely him.
Both actors admitted being huge Star Wars fans. Bowler said that when he was a kid, he believed in all of them. He was “Not attuned to CGI as kids are today.” Archer told us that his office has been transformed into a Star Wars toys fair thanks to eBay.
To finish their panels, Bowler and Archer teased us a little on Season 3 with minor spoilers: Linda Hamilton is back, in the first two episodes of Season 3 there is more bloodshed than in the last two seasons combined, a couple of dead people come back, and Archer will make a small appearance as well, most likely as another BioMan.
Both actors were really entertaining during their panels with constant banter between each other. They were also very approachable during the whole FedCon. Archer even walked through the dealers’ rooms in his Mr. Hyde costume posing with fans. It was quite a sight as you can imagine!
Froggy holds a Master of Science degree in Marketing and Management from Dauphine University in Paris. She currently resides in Northern Germany where she works in the Space Industry. On top of covering conventions across Europe for The Geekiary, she’s a sports photographer for Our Game Magazine.
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