National News

Anna Hopkins talks 'Defiance' on Showcase

Canadian actress Anna Hopkins plays Jessica Berlin Rai in Showcase sci-fi series Defiance, returning for a second season Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Bell Media-Ben Mark Holzberg -
Canadian actress Anna Hopkins plays Jessica Berlin Rai in Showcase sci-fi series Defiance, returning for a second season Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Bell Media-Ben Mark Holzberg
— image credit:

By Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Montreal-born actress Anna Hopkins studied propaganda films in university but never expected to be shooting them herself.

Hopkins, 27, plays tough soldier and documentarian Jessica (Berlin) Rai in the second season of "Defiance," premiering on Showcase Thursday. Her character produces films in support of the Earth Republic occupation — and they include the actress's own handiwork.

"My character does film a lot within scenes, and sometimes they would use that footage to be her actual films," said Hopkins, who took "mini-film lessons" from director Michael Nankin on the art of propaganda.

"It's found in a lot of Leni Riefenstahl films that she shoots from below, especially for authority figures. So (Mayor) Niles Pottinger, my boss essentially, I shoot him a lot and so I need to make him look as grand as he can," she said in a phone interview.

"Defiance" is set in the year 2046, after a war with aliens left Earth scorched and both humans and extraterrestrials on the edge of survival. In the town of Defiance, formerly St. Louis, lawman Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler) struggles to keep the peace.

The town is actually located on a sprawling set in a suburb of Toronto. Hopkins said that between takes she enjoys exploring the makeshift city, which has a grim post-apocalyptic look, covered in debris and dust.

Her character is a soldier of Earth Republic, a military government that has occupied Defiance. Rai believes in her films' messages because she grew up during wartime and now sees the government as a means to unite and protect at any cost.

"I remember the character description (executive producer) Kevin Murphy wrote after the audition was, 'a militarized version of Holly Hunter in "Broadcast News,"' and that just made me go crazy because I loved that movie and I loved her in it," said Hopkins.

"She's really tough, really passionate about her beliefs. She's really not scared of anything, which is really fun to play. She also fights a lot."

Hopkins appeared in the 2010 film "Barney's Version," alongside Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti. The Concordia University graduate has also appeared in TV series "Nikita," "Arrow" and "Stephen King's Dead Zone."

After she learned she had won the role of Rai, she obsessively watched the entire 12-episode first season of "Defiance" in two days.

"I love the wild west, post-apocalyptic aspects of it. There's so much room for these incredible storylines and this variety of characters," she said. "I didn't know much about where my character was going, but from seeing season 1, I knew it was going to be something interesting and unconventional — and I was right."

She said the cast and crew, including Murphy, known for his producer role on "Desperate Housewives" and "Battlestar Galactica" spinoff "Caprica," immediately welcomed her.

"They're all really excited about the show, which is a real asset when you work on a project. When people are passionate and excited about what they're doing, it's the best."

Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Australian woman charged with murder of 8 children
 
Site C dam construction to start next summer
 
B.C.-only wines to come to some grocery stores
Lava slows but still on track to hit Hawaii market
 
Boy, 15, killed in Surrey assault
 
Tanev scores in OT as Canucks edge Flames
Woman rushed to hospital after train and car collision
 
Hunters protest shift favouring non-residents
 
Family frustrated with lack of progress in murder investigation

Community Events, December 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Dec 19 edition online now. Browse the archives.