Julie Benz

Julie Benz Headshot

Actress

Birth Date: May 1, 1972

Age: 52 years old

Birth Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

An adventurous supporting actress who specialized in deeply complex and often flawed characters, Julie Benz captured audiences' attention with roles in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (The WB, 1997-2003), "Angel" (The WB, 1999-2004) and "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006-13). A former competitive ice skater, she abandoned sports after an injury to pursue acting. Bit parts on television series led to her breakthrough role as the malevolent vampiress Darla on "Buffy" and "Angel." Benz's physical beauty was an occasional obstacle in finding projects of substance, but she eventually landed another standout character in Rita, the reluctant lover and spouse of Michael C. Hall's Dexter. These and other projects, which included stints in comedy, science fiction, horror and sudsy dramas, proved that Benz was one of the most versatile performers on the small screen.

The daughter of a surgeon father and a competitive ice skater mother, Julie Benz was born May 1, 1972 in Pittsburgh, PA. She followed in her mother's footsteps at the age of three, quickly rising to 13th in the United States in ice dancing. A stress fracture at the age of 14 brought her skating career to a halt, so after graduating from Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, PA, she briefly entertaining the idea of becoming a doctor like her father. However, one glimpse at an operation convinced her that she lacked the stomach for the job. Instead, she became involved in local theater, and soon developed a passion for acting. A bit role in "Two Evil Eyes" (1990), a horror film co-directed by Pittsburgh native son George Romero and Italian suspense master Dario Argento, marked her professional debut. Benz soon lit out for New York to hone her craft at New York University, from which she graduated in 1993.

Benz soon made the rounds of episodic television, frequently appearing as an attractive and occasionally clue-free young woman sought after by male performers. She briefly endured a season as a 1950s-era TV character trapped in the real world in the sitcom "Hi Honey, I'm Home" (ABC/Nick at Night," 1991-92), then progressed to guest appearances on youth-oriented shows like "Boy Meets World" (ABC, 1993-2000). Her Hollywood feature debut came with an uncredited role in the Chris Farley-David Spade comedy "Black Sheep" (1996); the following year, she earned some critical notice as the receptionist who quizzed Jack Nicholson on his ability to write about women in "As Good As It Gets" (1997).

That same year, Benz began her long tenure as the seductive vampire Darla on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and its spin-off, "Angel." A truly ferocious and scheming bloodsucker, her path of destruction took her from the 16th century, when she was turned into a vampire by the cult leader the Master, to the 18th century, when she transformed Irish villager Liam into Angelus, later known as Angel (David Boreanaz). The pair cut a swath of terror through the next three centuries before Angel split from her, citing his inability to harm innocent victims. After both turn up in suburban Sunnyvale in the 20th century, Darla made life miserable for Angel and his new love, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) until being staked by her former companion. Darla then returned for multiple episodes of "Angel," the crux of which saw her impregnated by Angel, despite the impossibilities of such an event. Realizing that she would be emotionally and physically impossible to care for a child, she staked herself, leaving behind an infant who grew quickly into the deeply conflicted Connor.

Though her appearances on "Buffy" and "Angel" raised her profile, Benz struggled to find other projects of similar quality. Features were few and far between, with the black comedy "Jawbreaker" (1999), about three popular high schoolers (Benz, Rebecca Gayheart and Rose McGowan) who attempted to cover up the murder of a friend, the best of the lot. Subsequent projects like "Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th" (2000) and "George of the Jungle 2" (2003), with Benz as the title hero's love, Ursula, were best forgotten. TV kept her busy, most notably with recurring appearances as the kind-hearted FBI agent who impersonated a school guidance counselor on "Roswell" (The WB/UPN, 1999-2002) and in a rare lead for the Hallmark Channel movie "The Long Shot" (2004) as a woman who recovers from her failed marriage at a horse ranch. She would headline several more TV features for the network and the Lifetime Channel, including "Held Hostage" (Lifetime, 2009), a true-life drama about a woman forced to rob a bank by criminals who hold her daughter captive; the romance "Uncorked" (Hallmark, 2009), with Benz as a business-minded executive who fell in love with a handsome widower; and "Circle of Friends" (2006, Lifetime), about a woman (Benz) investigating the deaths of several friends in her hometown. Benz even ventured briefly into voiceover work with the bestseller game, "Halo 2" (2004), for which she provided the voice for the ill-fated heroine, Miranda Keyes.

In 2006, Benz received the role that would largely define her post-"Buffy" career. She played Rita Morgan, whose damaged past - abuse at the hands of her husband - made her an appealing mate for the title character, a crusading serial killer. Although reluctant to become intimate with Dexter, she eventually grows to trust and even love him, despite numerous warning signs about his hidden nature. The couple eventually has a child together, though domestic bliss is short-lived. After dispatching the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow), Dexter returned home to find his last victim - Rita herself. Audiences were somewhat surprised to see their homicidal hero show a degree of genuine emotion at her loss. For her efforts, Benz received two Screen Actors Guild nominations as part of the ensemble cast, and a 2006 Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Once again, the exposure of a popular series led to more roles for Benz; amusingly, her connection to "Dexter" seemed to have great appeal to casting agents for horror films and violent dramas. She was one of the few victims to survive the murderous games of the killer known as Jigsaw in "Saw V" (2008), then played the wife of an undercover agent accidentally killed by Ray Stevenson's implacable vigilante in the ultra-violent "Punisher: War Zone" (2008). Her trifecta of high-octane film appearances was completed by "Rambo" (2008), Sylvester Stallone's fourth go-round as the taciturn Vietnam vet, who aids Benz on a humanitarian aid mission in Thailand. The latter was the most successful of the three pictures, netting over $150 million at the box office and providing Benz with her biggest motion picture to date.

After a supporting turn in "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day" (2009), the largely unseen sequel to the cult hit, Benz began a five-episode arc on "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-12) as Robin, a former stripper who endured the scorn of the series' matriarchs before launching a lesbian relationship with Dana Delaney's Katherine Mayfair. The following year, Benz was announced as returning to "Dexter" for its fifth season while pulling double duty as a co-lead with Michael Chiklis on "No Ordinary Family" (ABC, 2010-11), about a suburban clan who develop super powers as the result of a plane crash.

Credits

Secrets of a Gold Digger KillerStream

Actor
Celeste
Movie
2021

9-1-1: Lone StarStream

Guest Star
Julie Benz
Series
2020

HeavenStream

Actor
Kitty
Movie
2019

Foster BoyStream

Actor
Pamela Dupree
Movie
2019
83%

Battle of the Network Stars

Guest
Reality
2017

Training Day: Extras

Actor
Show
2017

Training DayStream

Actor
Holly Butler
Series
2017
24%

Welcome Home Warrior

Actor
Amanda
Movie
2017

Havenhurst

Actor
Jackie
Movie
2016

Charming Christmas

Actor
Meredith Rossman
Movie
2015

Circle

Actor
Wife
Movie
2015

Life on the Line

Actor
Carline
Movie
2015

Celebrity Name Game

Contestant
Game Show
2014

Hollywood Today Live

Guest
Show
2014

Sole Custody

Actor
Zoey
Movie
2014

DefianceStream

Actor
Amanda Rosewater
Series
2013
77%

Taken: The Search for Sophie Parker

Actor
Stevie Parker
Movie
2013

Arson Mom

Actor
Zoey
Movie
2013

A Gifted ManStream

Guest Star
Christina Holt
Series
2011
66%

Ricochet

Actor
Elise Laird
Movie
2011

Answers to Nothing

Actor
Frankie
Movie
2011

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

No Ordinary FamilyStream

Actor
Stephanie Powell
Series
2010
71%

Hawaii Five-0Stream

Guest Star
Series
2010

Access Hollywood Live

Guest
Show
2010

Uncorked

Actor
Johnny Prentiss
Movie
2010

Bedrooms

Actor
Anna
Movie
2010

Watch What Happens Live With Andy CohenStream

Guest
Talk
2009

Royal PainsStream

Guest Star
Elyse
Series
2009

Held HostageStream

Actor
Michelle Estey
Movie
2009

Tattoos: A Scarred History

Actor
Movie
2009

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

Actor
Eunice Bloom
Movie
2009

The Wendy Williams Show

Guest
Talk
2008

RamboStream

Actor
Sarah
Movie
2008
37%

Punisher: War Zone

Actor
Angela
Movie
2008

Saw VStream

Actor
Brit
Movie
2008
13%

Rembo IV

Actor
Movie
2008

The Better Show

Guest
Show
2007

DexterStream

Actor
Rita Bennett
Series
2006
71%

DexterStream

Guest Star
Rita Bennett
Series
2006
71%

Rachael Ray ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2006

Circle of Friends

Actor
Maggie
Movie
2006

Kill Your Darlings

Actor
Katherine
Movie
2006

SupernaturalStream

Guest Star
Series
2005
93%

The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson

Guest
Talk
2005

8MM 2

Actor
Lynn
Movie
2005

Locusts: The 8th Plague

Actor
Vicky
Movie
2005

Desperate HousewivesStream

Guest Star
Robin Gallagher
Series
2004
72%

The Soup

Guest
Talk
2004

Czarny Kon

Actor
Movie
2004

Handlarz Bronia

Actor
Movie
2004

The Long Shot

Actor
Annie Garrett
Movie
2004

A Fate Totally Worse Than Death

Actor
Danielle
Movie
2004

NCISStream

Guest Star
Denise Johnson
Series
2003

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

Guest
Talk
2003

George of the Jungle 2

Actor
Ursula
Movie
2003

Taken

Actor
Show
2002

CSI: MiamiStream

Guest Star
Series
2002

Last Call With Carson Daly

Guest
Talk
2002

The BrothersStream

Actor
Jesse Caldwell
Movie
2001
63%

CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationStream

Guest Star
Series
2000

Satan's School for Girls

Actor
Alison Kingsley
Movie
2000

Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th

Actor
Barbara Primesuspekt
Movie
2000

RoswellStream

Guest Star
Series
1999

AngelStream

Guest Star
Series
1999

Payne

Actor
Show
1999

Jawbreaker

Actor
Marcie Fox
Movie
1999

Dirt Merchant

Actor
Angie
Movie
1999

The King of QueensStream

Guest Star
Series
1998

Ask Harriet

Actor
Show
1998

Darkdrive

Actor
Julie Falcon
Movie
1998

Fame L.A.

Guest Star
Show
1997

The View

Guest
Talk
1997

Buffy the Vampire SlayerStream

Guest Star
Darla
Series
1997
85%

A Walton Easter

Actor
Jeannie
Movie
1997

Hearts Adrift

Actor
Christy
Movie
1996

SlidersStream

Guest Star
Series
1995

High TideStream

Guest Star
Series
1994

Diagnosis MurderStream

Guest Star
Series
1993

Boy Meets WorldStream

Guest Star
Bianca
Series
1993

Step by StepStream

Guest Star
Series
1991

Law & OrderStream

Guest Star
Series
1990

Married ... With ChildrenStream

Guest Star
Sascha
Series
1987

Today

Guest
News
1952

News aboutJulie Benz