at PaleyFest2010's "Dexter" night at the Saban Theatre on March 4, 2010
|Born||Julie M. Benz
May 1, 1972
|Years active||since 1990|
|Spouse(s)||John Kassir (1998–2007) (filed for divorce)|
Julie M. Benz (born May 1, 1972) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Rita Morgan on Dexter, Benz won the 2006 Satellite Award for Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. She is also well known for her role of Darla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
Benz was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father is a Pittsburgh surgeon. The family settled in nearby Murrysville when Benz was two, and she started ice skating when she was three. She competed in the 1988 U.S. Championships in junior ice dancing with her partner David Schilling, coming in 13th. Her older brother and sister, Jeffrey and Jennifer, were the 1987 U.S. Junior Champions in ice dancing and competed internationally. When Benz was 14, she had a bad stress fracture and had to take time off. She grew up in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, graduating from Franklin Regional High School. She later graduated from New York University.
By 1989, with her figure skating career over, Benz got involved in local theater, where she got a role in the play Street Law. Her first movie role was a small speaking part in "The Black Cat" segment of the Dario Argento/George A. Romero co-directed horror movie Two Evil Eyes (1990). A year later, she got a role on a TV show called Hi Honey, I'm Home (1991). The show was canceled after two seasons.
After graduating from high school, Benz entered New York University to study acting. After graduation from NYU, she moved to Los Angeles and landed small roles in movies and TV shows, including a guest appearance on an episode of Married with Children in 1994 in the (unaired) Aaron Spelling television pilot Cross Town Traffic. She starred in another unaired TV pilot called Empire in 1995. Her other TV shows included Hang Time, High Tide, Step by Step and Boy Meets World, plus a small role in the TV movie The Barefoot Executive. She had an uncredited role in Black Sheep and appearances in Diagnosis Murder, Sliders and The Single Guy. She played Christy in the TV movie Hearts Adrift and a lead role as Julie Falcon in Darkdrive.
In 1996, Benz auditioned for the role of Buffy in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997), but lost out to Sarah Michelle Gellar. However, she was offered a small role as a vampire girl in the pilot episode. She did such a good job that her part was expanded to a few more episodes in playing the vampire Darla. The role helped launch her career.
She appeared in more TV shows like The Big Easy and Fame L.A. along with a small role as a receptionist in the movie As Good as It Gets (1997). She starred in the short spoof film Eating Las Vegas and the unaired TV pilot Veronica's Video, had a small uncredited role in the TV movie A Walton Easter and a small role in Inventing the Abbotts.
In 1998, she had a recurring role as the ditzy Joplin Russell in the TV show Ask Harriet (though the show was canceled and only two of her appearances aired), then guest-starred on Conrad Bloom and The King of Queens. She made two movies, the dark comedy Jawbreaker and Dirt Merchant, before landing a lead role in another TV show called Payne. She was undercover FBI Special Unit agent Kathleen Topolsky on Roswell during its first season, starred in the TV movie Satan's School for Girls, the unaired TV pilot Good Guys/Bad Guys and had a lead role in the horror movie parody Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth.
She reprised her role as Darla in 2000 for the Buffy spin-off series Angel appearing in every season for at least one episode. In the romantic comedy film The Brothers she was the only white person featured in the principal cast. She was a guest host for the TV show Rendez-View. She was cast as Ellie Sparks in Glory Days and appeared in the unaired pilot; however, she left the show. She guest starred on She Spies and was in the featured cast for the mini-series Taken. She did various voices for the video game Hot Shots Golf Fore!, appeared in the short film The Midget Stays in the Picture and took over the role of Ursula for George of the Jungle 2.
Benz appeared in Peacemakers, Coupling, NCIS and Oliver Beene. She landed the lead role of Annie Garrett in the Hallmark TV movie The Long Shot. Benz also provided the voice of Miranda Keyes for the video game Halo 2, though she did not return to the role in the sequel Halo 3 as Bungie wanted to try a new direction with the Miranda Keyes voice by giving the character an accent, replaced by Justis Bolding. She played the lead role of Danielle in Bad Girls From Valley High (a film shot in 2000 under the title A Fate Totally Worse Than Death) which was released on DVD in 2005. She had a small role in the critically acclaimed TV movie Lackawanna Blues. In the Scifi Original Locusts: The 8th Plague she played the lead female role Vicky and she also appeared in the straight-to-DVD movie 8mm 2 as Lynn. The film was originally called The Velvet Side of Hell and was not supposed to be a sequel to 8MM.
Benz guest-starred on popular shows like Supernatural, CSI: Miami, Law & Order and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. She had a supporting role in a Swedish independent movie called Kill Your Darlings, a lead role in the Lifetime movie Circle of Friends and joined the main cast of TV show Dexter as Rita Bennett., Benz played a lead role in the fifth film of the popular horror franchise, Saw V, as Brit, a real-estate developer who is one of five victims of Jigsaw's games. She had a supporting role in Punisher: War Zone as Angela, who struggles to come to terms with her husband's death at the hands of the Punisher.
She plays the title role in the short film Kidnapping Caitlynn, written by her close friend Jenny Mollen, premiered at the Vail Film Festival 2009 and was released online April 6, 2009. She starred in the Lifetime movie called Held Hostage based on Michelle Renee's true story in July. She also starred in the Hallmark Channel movie called Uncorked as Johnetta which premiered in the UK in July 2009. She will be the lead female character Eunice in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day which had a limited release on October 30 2009 and has been cast in another indie film called Bedrooms as Anna. She has recently been cast as Frankie in the upcoming movie Answers to Nothing which is scheduled for a 2010 release.
Benz appeared on The Soup with Joel McHale. She made her last appearance on Dexter at the end of the fourth season and is now scheduled for a recurring role in Desperate Housewives as Robin Gallagher, a stripper with a heart of gold and a Masters degree in education who gets offered the chance to transition into a more legitimate career. The character of Robin will be further expanded when she begins an affair with housewife Katherine Mayfair, played by actress Dana Delany.