New Interview with Julie Benz

Julie Benz spent four seasons on DEXTER as the kind-hearted Rita, a mother of two who never realized that her perfect man was a also serial killer. When Rita was murdered by a killer Dexter was tracking on that series, it made for a truly shocking season finale. Benz moved on to a stint on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES before returning to series regular status as FAMILY’s swift Stephanie. Read more after the jump...

ASSIGNMENT X: Does playing a character with super-speed feel like any kind of homecoming for you, seeing that one of your big roles early on was the super-powered vampire Darla on BUFFY and ANGEL?

JULIE BENZ: But I don’t have every power [as Stephanie].

AX: Do you miss any of the other powers, or are you happy to have super-speed plus a family, without having to bite people?

BENZ: Oh, definitely. I think it’s just been a natural progression of my career, to go from such cult hits as BUFFY and ANGEL into DEXTER and now into NO ORDINARY FAMILY. It’s just been a natural progression and a natural way for me to age in Hollywood.

AX: When you found out that Rita was going to die on DEXTER, did you realize what an enormous impact that would have on the audience?

BENZ: I had a hard time seeing past my own drama of finding out my job was ending. And it wasn’t just the job was ending – it was leaving a family I had for four years. We were all very close, the main cast, and so I was more struggling with leaving that family than understanding the impact, so it was lovely to see the impact that – the monumental moment that was created in the show’s history and lore, but it’s not something that I noticed right away [laughs]. I didn’t actually know – I knew about an hour before the script was put out that Rita was going to be killed off, but they didn’t tell me how until an hour before I went to shoot that scene. So I didn’t really know how it was going to be. I mean, I thought I was going to be pushed off the building [like the killer’s previous married victims], but I ended up in the bathtub.

AX: When your role as Rita ended on DEXTER, you went almost immediately onto DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. Had ABC said to you at any point, “You know, if you don’t wind up a series regular on HOUSEWIVES, we’re interested in you”?

BENZ: You know, I auditioned for NO ORDINARY FAMILY. It was pilot season and I was working on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES just happy to be there. It was a great-feeling place for me to go to after being killed off on DEXTER and to play the exact opposite of Rita. Robin [on HOUSEWIVES] was just very healing for me, for my soul, my spirit. And to work with those amazing women whose work has inspired me was just a thrill. But I was auditioning for new pilots, and I auditioned for this one. It wasn’t like they just gave it to me. But DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES is how ABC became familiar with my work.

AX: Robin was a professional stripper. Did you do any kind of special off-camera workout to get in shape to play her?

BENZ: No, I’m a workout junkie. I’ve been an athlete all my life. I was a figure skater growing up. Some people go to therapy; I work out. It’s my stress reliever. When I have to do scenes that require less clothing, I really just watch my eating, I watch my sodium intake and I just eat very clean. I can’t live that strict [indefinitely] in real life. I’m a big foodie. I love food and I love to eat.

Full interview here

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