British actress Jaime Murray is thrilled to have so many lesbian fans. Since she’s so active on Twitter, she finds herself in direct communication with them frequently.
“They’re fucking funny and smart and sassy so I kind of really enjoy the relationship I have with them on Twitter,” Jaime said, “and I find them inspiring too. I think that whenever you make a choice which isn’t easy in life and you decide ‘I’m going to make the choice to follow my heart, however difficult that might be in my life,’ and you follow through — I think there’s a certain strength of character, a depth of emotional awareness.”
In speaking with Jaime at the TCA day for her new SyFy show Defiance, the actress showed she shares some of these qualities herself both on-screen and off. The first time we saw her play gay on TV was in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which she said she didn’t know was part of her character until she received the script and saw she was to bed Lucy Lawless.
“I was reading in my room one day and ‘Hello!’” Jaime said. It was a similar situation with Ringer, in which her character Olivia ended up being revealed as a lesbian half-way through the season.
“Maybe I would have played it differently. Maybe I wouldn’t have!” Jaime said. “She was fun, she was powerful and she was kind of aggressive in a way. She was very much a woman living in a man’s world and therefore kind of taking on certain male characteristics to succeed in that world. And maybe not the best male characteristics that you could take on.” [Laughs] “I had a lot of fun playing her and it was a real twist for me when she got together with [Andrea Roth]. And that kind of gave me the opportunity of showing a different side to her, which was good.”
Jaime went on to play H.G. Wells on Warehouse 13 where her relationship with Joanne Kelly‘s character Myka Bering was a little more than friendly.
“A lot of the actresses come in and they have a little frisson kind of thing with Eddie McClintock‘s character and he’s very very charming and he’s wonderful and Joanne is a little bit uptight, her character,” Jaime said. “So I just kind of thought I was a suffragette and I came from another era and so it would have been quite unexpected. And I came from an era when I even had to use my brother as a pseudonym because, as a woman, I wouldn’t have been able to sell books. That kind of led me to a place of female emancipation. I kind of whispered to one of the writers, ‘I actually think she’d probably be more into Joanne than Eddie’ and he loved the idea. And he said ‘There isn’t anything in the script’ and I said ‘Well, I’m just going to play it.’”
Once they saw the chemistry between Jaime and Joanne on screen, the writers picked up on it and started to put it into their scripts.
“I just like the fact it was unexpected and she’s such a quirky character and it was quite nonchalant, how she makes little references about her lovers and how some of them are actually men,” Jaime said. “It’s just a nice way to go about representing a demographic that’s unrepresented, really. Not making too much of it and there’s a sweetness to that character. I think maybe, particular in that first season I came into the show, I was worried about playing a stereotype — about playing ‘the baddie’ — so anyway I could find to add depth or richness to my character, I wanted to do that.”
This April we’ll see Jaime playing a very different role as Stahma Tarr in Defiance. A married alien wife to the evil Datak, Jaime dons tons of pale make-up, a white wig and yellow contacts for the part.
“It’s a complete transformation, and we look utterly different,” Jaime said during the Defiance panel. “But you want these aliens to be different enough that they look like aliens, but you don’t want the audience to be taken out of the drama of it. So you need enough recognizable features, and it needs to be subtle enough that you can enjoy the relationships and the characters and the drama. But it was a quite tricky process finding it. It takes me two hours to get ready because girls always take longer. And it happens quite gradually, and I kind of accept it, so, by the time I’m in costume, I’ve kind of fully embraced it and kind of I go on feeling the character. But at the end of the day, I want to get home, you know. I want a glass of wine. I want to get home to bed, watch some telly. So I kind of whip it off as fast as I can. And that’s when, for me, I actually get shocked. After being in it for, like, sometimes 14 hours plus, I take it off at the end of the day and am kind of a bit disappointed to see this brown haired, brown eyed girl blinking back at me. You know, that’s the shock of the day for me.”
And while Jaime will likely not be participating in any lesbian relationships on Defiance, she does note that they do exist in their post-apocalyptic world.
“It’s a sexy town. That’s for sure. But there’s same-sex relationships. There’s alien relationships. There’s all sorts of stuff going on, but there are some very sexualized beings in this tale, but it’s not the stereotype of what you may have seen previously,” she said.
As for if we’ll get to see Jaime in scenes with her good friend and former Dexter co-star Julie Benz, the actress said there just aren’t enough.
“Every time we do a scene we say ‘I hope we can do some more!’” Jaime said. “Hopefully we’ll have many, many seasons to play it out.”
Defiance debuts in April on SyFy.