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Interview: Jaime Murray

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At the end of the second season of Defiance, the Tarr family was in quite the predicament. Alak and Christie had been kidnapped by Christie’s mom Pilar. That formed the unlikely alliance of Datak, Stahma and Rafe McCawley who joined forces to find their children.

Fans have been waiting patiently as to what would happen next and now finally, the wait is over. The Season Three premiere of Defiance will air on the Syfy channel this Friday, June 12th at 8/7c.

One of the reasons Defiance has become so popular amongst its fans is the work of actress Jaime Murray who plays Stahma Tarr. During the first two seasons of the series, Stahma has established herself as one of the more cunning and formidable characters of the series.

Today, Pop Culture Principle sits down with the London born actress to talk about where the series picks up at the beginning of Season Three, why she loves working with Tony Curran and why she thinks Stahma is the ultimate chess player.

Pop Culture Principle – At the end of Season Two, Datak, Stahma and Raiff were chasing down Pilar who kidnapped Alak, Christie and the baby. Where does Season Three of Defiance pick up the story?

Jaime Murray – It actually picks up nine months after the Season Two finale. Datak and Stahma are still on the road with Raiffe looking for Christie and Alak. Datak and Stahma have been out of Defiance for nine months as has the Earth Republic who, if you remember from the end of last season, were rolling out of Defiance.

Pop Culture Principle – Stahma had her ups and downs in Season Two. As an actor, how did you enjoy playing her rollercoaster of emotions?

Jaime Murray – I do feel like I am on a rollercoaster of emotions playing this character. With Stahma, I am creating this character and her characteristics: the way she looks, the way she moves, the way she talks and the way she behaves, which is very different from anything I’ve done before and very different from me.

In the first season she was very submissive, somewhat like a geisha or a medieval woman. In the second season, she started to take some of her power back and there was this power struggle between her and Datak. This season has really been about loss of control for Stahma. The harder she fights to regain control, the less remains. I think whether she is giving her power away or pretending to or struggling for it, Stahma’s issues for me are about power and control. It’s been fun to play because obviously the stakes are high when she loses that power.

Pop Culture Principle – Would you consider Stahma to be the ultimate chess player who is always thinking several moves ahead?

Jaime Murray – Definitely, although the rug is really pulled out from beneath her in Season Three. I sometimes didn’t feel as smart this season because the dilemmas she’s in are so intense ,and she ends up in these situations where she is between a rock and a hard place. So, some of her decisions this season aren’t based necessarily on forward thinking or intellect, they are based more on short term and long term survival.

Pop Culture Principle – How satisfying was it for Stahma to see Datak at his lowest point while in prison and basically a commoner when he got out of prison?

Jaime Murray – The thing about Stahma is that I don’t think she is a mean character. I think there may have been a little bit of satisfaction with Datak’s situation. I don’t think she wishes anything bad on anyone or Datak, she just wants what she wants and she will remove whatever is in the way. If she can do it without hurting you she will but, if you do unfortunately get hurt, it’s a necessary evil. I don’t think she necessarily wants to see Datak fall so low, only in so much that it might teach him a lesson and make him behave better if they do get back together.

I mean, there might have been some satisfaction if she felt as though bringing him down was teaching him that lesson, but just for the sake of him being miserable, feeling like a commoner or undermining his self-esteem, I don’t necessarily think she would do it for the sake of that. She is not a vindictive person.

Pop Culture Principle - What do you think is the Stahma’s true reasoning for getting back with Datak, and will they both be able to put the past behind them?

Jaime Murray – Well, I know it’s hard for everyone to understand but she loves him. He’s her partner, for better or for worse. She feels as though they are one, and that’s it really. That’s the only way you can really look at it.

Pop Culture Principle – Linda Hamilton was part of Season Two as Christie’s mother Pilar. There were some great scenes between Stahma and Pilar. What was it like working with Linda?

Jaime Murray – It’s so much fun working with her. We had a great scene at the end of Season Two where she reminded Stahma that she used to clean toilets. It was amazing to work with her, and she is such a professional.

Pop Culture Principle – What can you say about any drama between the entire Tarr family for Season Three?

Jaime Murray – I don’t want to give too much away or say any spoilers, but I can say that between one of those three the relationship couldn’t get any worse. It gets really bad.

Pop Culture Principle – A new race is introduced in Season Three: the Omec. What can you tell us about them?

Jaime Murray – Well, they look fantastic. They are really the first race, the most ancient race. They were thought to be extinct and had really become folklore over the years, and stories had been told about them—many based on truth. Other Voltan races would be very scared and suspicious of them because they were known to enslave and use other species as concubines. They are obviously not held in very high regard.

For Stahma, the prettiest of her species were used as concubines for the Omec and taught to entertain and serve them. When Stahma was growing up, she probably heard the stories of these all powerful Omecs and would have been frightened, thrilled and impressed by them. So for me it was great playing Stahma meeting an Omec for the first time.

Pop Culture Principle – Heading into the third season of Defiance, how protective and attached have you become to Stahma?

Jaime Murray - I always become quite protective and attached to all my characters. If you had to say there were “villains” in the series, then her and Datak would be what we considered villains on the show. I’ve played so many “bad” characters, and you can’t just play a villain or a bad character because that means you are judging them and you are playing a stereotype. I’ve come to believe that there are no villains and heroes, just people with agendas. It’s whether you can either understand or you disagree with those agendas, and it’s the agendas that you should judge.

I know there are a lot of people who actually like Stahma and Datak, but I guess it’s always good to have somebody to boo and hiss at. With the writing on the series, even the heroes are flawed. I think Stahma and Datak do have some redeeming qualities or something that can make you smile. Truth be told, it’s really fun to play a character that lives in that grey area.

Pop Culture Principle – You and Tony Curran work so well together on screen. What is it like working with him?

Jaime Murray – My favorite scenes are with Tony Curran just because he’s such a great friend of mine. We didn’t know each other before the show, and you just have chemistry with some people.

We have chemistry, and I feel so close with him and I trust him so much that we can mess around and try different things. We can try things without fear of making a mistake because it’s safe to make a mistake with each other. You can have five mistakes and then the sixth thing you try is genius and something unexpected. I have to thank him for making my work better, really. We love working together and, in fact, this season I’ve worked with him less than the last two seasons.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the new season of Defiance?

Jaime Murray – I hope fans like this season because Stahma is less able to wear her mask this season. You see a rawer Stahma and it’s a lot more jarring when she tries to wear the mask this season. It is much more transparent this year what is going on with her.

June 12th is the last day of filming for us and we can’t wait for everyone to see what is coming with the new season of Defiance.

The third season of Defiance premieres on the Syfy channel this Friday, June 12th at 8/7c. We'd like to thank Jaime Murray for talking with us and if you would like to keep up to date with all of her latest news and projects, you can follow her official Twitter account here.

**Photos credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy**

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