Julie M. Benz is an American actress. 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 Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Benz was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father is a Pittsburgh surgeon and, contrary to rumor, her mother was never an ice figure skater. 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 being over, Benz turned to acting and got involved in the local theater, where she got a role in the play Street Law. Her first movie role was a small, credited, speaking part in "The Black Cat" segment of the Dario Argento/George A. Romero co-directed horror flick 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 cancelled after two seasons.
After graduating from high school, Julie entered New York University to study acting. After graduation, Julie moved to Los Angeles to further pursue her career and landed some small roles in movies and TV shows, including a guest appearance on an episode of Married with Children in 1994 and a role in the Aaron Spelling unaired TV pilot Cross Town Traffic. She also starred as Christie Lambert in another unaired TV pilot called Empire in 1995. She went on to guest star in many TV shows which include Hang Time, High Tide, Step by Step and Boy Meets World. She also had a small role in the TV movie The Barefoot Executive. She had an uncredited role in Black Sheep and guest appearances in the shows 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, Julie 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 in which she did such a good job that her part was expanded to a few more episodes in playing the vampire Darla. With that, her career had finally taken off. She guest starred in more TV shows like The Big Easy and Fame L.A. whilst getting a small, but memorable, role playing a receptionist in the movie As Good as It Gets (1997). She went on to star in the short spoof film Eating Las Vegas as Liz Shoe, the unaired TV pilot Veronica's Video, have a small uncredited role as Drew's girlfriend Jeannie in the TV Movie A Walton Easter and a small role in Inventing the Abbotts as a co-ed.
In 1998, she had a recurring role as the ditzy Joplin Russell in the TV show Ask Harriet (though the show was cancelled and only 2 of her many appearances aired) then guest starred on Conrad Bloom and The King of Queens. She also starred in two movies, the popular dark comedy Jawbreaker as Marcie Fox and Dirt Merchant which premiered on September 19th 1999 on SightSound.com before landing a lead role in another TV show called Payne as Breeze O’Rourke who is a proud virgin working at the Whispering Pines Inn and was similar to the Polly character from Fawlty Towers; the show was cancelled after one season (only 8 of the 9 episodes aired). She also had a recurring role on the show Roswell, 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 as Barbara.
She reprised her role as Darla in 2000 for the Buffy spin-off series Angel appearing in every season of the show for at least one episode. She had a role in the romantic comedy film The Brothers in which she was the only white person featured in the principal cast and 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 as the mean, rich and bitchy Elaine. She was then in the featured cast for the mini-series Taken as Kate Keys. 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.
Julie went on to guest star in Peacemakers, Coupling, Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service 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 in 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.
Julie then 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. She plays the lead female in Rambo and then appeared in a promo campaign for PETA called Violence Link PETA PSA and a promo for the Burma: It Can't Wait Campaign. Benz played a lead role in the fifth film of the popular Saw 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 the second remake The Punisher: War Zone as Angela Donatelli whom struggles to come to terms with her husbands death at the hands of the Punisher. She will be the lead female character Eunice in The Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day which will be released in 2009.
Benz was married to actor John Kassir. They were wed on May 30, 1998. She filed for divorce in December 2007. She is currently dating Rich Orosco who is the Vice President of Marketing for Warner Bros. Televisionl.
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