From portraying Darla the vampire on Buffy and Angel to the emotionally shattered Rita on Dexter, Julie Benz has kept viewers entertained for countless hours. Unlike many celebrities, Julie didn't have dreams of becoming an actor. In fact, from the age of three until her teens, Julie trained as a competitive figure skater until an injury forced her off the ice. Soon after her skating career ended, Julie began acting and hasn't stopped since, taking on each challenging role and making it her own. During our chat, I found Julie very soft-spoken, funny, confident and completely happy with her life and career. What more can a girl want?!
Q: Before you got into acting, you were a competitive figure skater -- if you hadn't been injured, do you think the Olympics could have been a viable possibility?
Julie: "Oh, I don't know, it was definitely a goal -- the ultimate goal. I'm the last one to ask if I had the talent or not. I was on my way, it was something I was training hard for, but I was cut down in my prime."
Q: Would you have ever become an actor if not for the injury?
Julie: "I don't know, I never thought of it. I don't really think of life in those ways. Right when I had the injury, my mom didn't want me sitting around the house and got me involved in theater right away and modeling and doing commercials."
Q: Your role as Darla on Angel and Buffy was such a complex character, what shade of Darla did you enjoy the most?
Julie: "I really liked them all, it's hard to say, it's like asking to pick my favorite flavor of chocolate. She was just so wonderful to play and I think she was colored by every level of emotion that she experienced. I loved doing the flashbacks. I loved wearing the period costumes, the wigs and corsets. Experiencing that was a lot of fun."
Q: How long did it take to get your vampire face on?
Julie: "It took about an hour and a half to put on and 45 minutes to take off. It used to take longer in the very beginning and then they got it down to a science."
Q: Which episode of Angel was your favorite?
Julie: "There were a couple. Of course, I really loved the episode "Darla," I'd be a fool not to love that one! I really loved the episode "Dear Boy" and I loved going back at the end and doing "The Girl in Question." I thought it was fun to finally have the four of us together doing something funny, rather than being so serious all the time."
Q: Do you still keep in touch with the cast?
Julie: "Yeah, I talk to Juliet Landau (Drusilla) all the time. I keep in touch with Stephanie Romanov (Lilah). I'm friends with Claire Kramer from Buffy, we go to the gym together every day."
Q: You played a role in another big fan favorite -- Roswell, in which just about every single actor, including yourself, have gone on to do extremely well in the business....what elements do you feel have attributed to all this success?
Julie: [laughs] "David Nutter and Jason Katims. I think that was just one of those rare cases where they just assembled a talented cast. Jason Behr is a hugely talented actor, Katie Heigl and Shiri Appleby -- all of them. It was perfect casting. I had such a great relationship with the cast, especially Colin Hanks. It was a really great group of people."
Q: Your role as Rita on Dexter is so different from any other role you've played, how do you prepare yourself mentally for this character?
Julie: "I just approach it like I do with all of my other work. I try to be available and relaxed on set in order to get into that vulnerable side of myself. I live in the moment and work off what Michael gives me - he's so brilliant!"
Q: What can you tell us about the Dexter season finale?
Julie: "They went all out, it's going to be amazing. There's going to be some great cliffhangers as well."
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Julie: "Hopefully working, doing good work and being challenged as an actor. I couldn't imagine my life without performing, I love it."
Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Julie: "I love to stay at home, not going anywhere and staying in my pajamas all day. I don't get to do it a lot. I live a very quiet life; people would be surprised to learn that I'm boring. It doesn't take much to make me smile."
Q: Do you have anything you'd like to say to the fans?
Julie: "Thank you so much! Buffy and Angel had such a great fan following. The fans of Dexter have been so wonderful. I am so thankful for that because it wouldn't be on the air if people weren't watching."