Exclusive Interview: Jesse Rath on ‘Defiance’ Season 2

Jesse Rath 1

At the end of “Defiance” season one, Datak Tarr (Tony Curran) left a vacancy for his son to fill. Datak was elected mayor, but he threw that away when he stabbed E-Rep colonel Marsh. Now it’s up to Alak Tarr to take over for his father, whether it is in a legitimate office or back to the old criminal underworld where the Tarrs thrive. I sat down with Jesse Rath to discuss Alak’s role in the second season of “Defiance,” premiering Thursday, June 19 on Syfy.
CraveOnline: How does life in Defiance change for Alak in season two?
Jesse Rath: Well, after season one, Datak isn’t really in the picture anymore after the mess he left himself with at the end of season one when he stabbed Col. Marsh. He’s not really at the town at the beginning of season one and my character is thrusted into power and he finds himself at the head of this crime syndicate. 
So I’m now the head of the crime syndicate. I’ve taken my father’s spot at the table and we slowly start to discover that the power that I have isn’t really all there and it’s all really for show. Stahma is the one who’s really pulling the strings behind him. 
As it always was with Datak.
Right, exactly.
Did Alak not take over for Datak as mayor?
No, he’s not. He won the election. but then he stabbed the colonel. Early on in season two, in the premiere episode even, you’ll find out what happens to Datak, where he is and how that factors into the new dynamic of the town. 
Is there a lot more action this year?
Yeah, there’s plenty of action. There’s armed security, armed E-Rep soldiers walking around town with guns. So just on the everyday of shooting the show, there’s people walking around with automatic weapons. There’s a tank we had one day on set just rolling down the street. It’s almost like a war zone. The city looks different. It’s not the Defiance we’re used to. It’s Defiance, everything looks the same but there’s little subtle differences that we can tell it’s under a different rule right now.
Do Tarrs thrive in that environment?
I don’t think so. I think what Tarrs do best is survive. They do what they need to do to survive and manipulate and gain power. I think that they’re treading lightly around these E-Rep people. They know that they can’t take them one on one. They can’t just overthrow them overnight, so they’re trying to keep their enemies close and tread lightly over those E-Rep soldiers.
Do you have a new love interest this season?
Well, in that trailer you kind of see me with someone who’s not Christie. So yeah, there’s a new girl in the mix. There’s a new Need/Want prostitute that we’ll learn. There’s a bunch of new characters in this new season. They’re all very cool, talented actors so one of those characters is a new love interest for Alak. 
How soon do we meet her?
I think you should meet her pretty early on, but it doesn’t really start happening right away. You’ll start to see the makings of some unfaithfulness going on. 
Have you had any interaction with the video game?
Apart from playing it myself, I haven’t. I haven’t done any voices or anything like that but I get a kick out of playing it. 
You’re not a playable character?
I’m not a playable character but I know that now… I’m not too sure about everything about the video game, but I know that now you can create your character to be Castithan. Before there was no Castithans in the video game. Now that race is unlocked so you could go out and create Alak Tarr yourself, create a guy who looks like me, or even cooler looking than me and play as him in the game. 
What has it meant for you to have this character on “Defiance” for two seasons now?
It’s the role of a lifetime for me. I’m a big fanboy. I love science-fiction and aliens and lightsaber like weapons. So the fact that I get to play an alien on a show and I get to play with some of these futuristic gadgets, it’s awesome. It’s a dream come true for me. I think it’s the closest thing to Star Wars I can get my hands on. 
How easy was it to get back into character as Alak?
Very easy. I feel right at home in that white makeup and white wig. I feel naked without it. Right now I don’t feel like myself until I have pink eyes.
What did you think the first time you looked in the mirror and saw yourself as Alak?
It’s weird, because it’s not like they put on the makeup and then I see myself. I’m watching them put it on. I’m watching myself slowly become the character, so it’s not a drastic shock really putting on the makeup because you see it put on gradually in steps. Taking off the makeup, that’s when the shop happens because you’re in the alien costume all day, you get used to seeing yourself like that. Then you take off the makeup and you’re instantly, in my case, brown again. 
That’s the shocking part, taking off the makeup. A lot of people ask how long does the makeup take? What’s the process like? I talk about how long it is to put the makeup on but what they don’t realize is that it’s also very time consuming to take the makeup off. A lot of the scenes I’m in, especially in this new season, I’m under water for the scenes. So we’ve got to have the makeup stay on me even when I’m underwater. Taking it off is not as easy as splashing water on my face. It’s a whole process and a team of handmaidens to help me out of the costume as well as into it.