Born in Pennsylvania, Julie Benz's father is a Pittsburgh surgeon and her mother is a figure ice skater. The family settled in nearby Murrysville, when Julie was two, and she started ice skating at age 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 in the 1987 U.S. Junior Champions in ice dancing and competed internationally. When Julie was 14, she had a bad stress fracture and had to take time off. By 1989, with her figure skating career over, Julie 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 in the Black Cat episode in the 'Dario Argento' (qv)/'George A. Romero (I)' (qv) co-direction horror flick, _Due occhi diabolici (1990)_ (qv) playing in one scene alongside 'Harvey Keitel' (qv). A year later, she got a role on a TV show called _"Hi Honey, I'm Home" (1991)_ (qv). After graduating from high school, Julie entered New York University to study acting there. 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 _"Married with Children" (1987)_ (qv) and in the 'Aaron Spelling' (qv) TV pilot _Crosstown Traffic (1995) (TV)_ (qv). In 1996, Julie auditioned for the role of "Buffy" in the series _"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1997)_ (qv), but lost out to 'Sarah Michelle Gellar' (qv). However, she was offered a small role as a vampire girl 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, Julie Benz's career had finally taken off. She reprised her role as "Darla" in the Buffy spin-off series _"Angel" (1999)_ (qv) for two years and has had several small roles in various film productions. She also had a small, but memorable, role playing a receptionist in the movie _As Good as It Gets (1997)_ (qv). Even after her role on _"Angel" (1999)_ (qv) wrapped up, Julie continued to find work on television in playing many guest staring roles in numerous popular TV shows from _"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (2000)_ (qv), to _"Supernatural" (2005)_ (qv), to playing the lead and supporting roles in various made-for-TV movies. Most recently, she landed another notable role on the TV-cable series _"Dexter" (2006)_ (qv) playing "Rita", a troubled divorcée and lover of the title character played by 'Michael C. Hall (I)' (qv).
- [on her character "Darla" on _"Angel" (1999)_ (qv)] I didn't expect them to write such a beautiful ending. I really think it was one of the most beautiful gifts I've ever received as an actor. The last three episodes of her life are so wonderful. They were such a gift to play. It was really amazing. They sent me the script and I was on lunch. I was in my trailer crying. Everybody was asking me if I was okay, and what was wrong, and I had to say it was nothing, and that I was fine. You don't want to tell anyone anything - and, of course, we're not allowed to tell anybody anything. I think she truly is one of the most amazing characters on television.
- [About Darla's departure from _"Angel" (1999)_ (qv)] She was such a wonderful character to begin with. To have such a beautiful ending. For me, it felt like they gave me a gift, a really special gift. After playing her for so long, it was such a beautiful way for her to go. The last 20 minutes redeemed her in the eyes of the fans as well. She was able to finally do something good after 400 years of evil and terror.
- [Her favorite scenes from _"Dexter" (2006)_ (qv)] I loved the episodes where Rita dressed up as Lara Croft... and gave Dexter things. It was such a fun scene to play and it's the first time you really saw a little bit of her strength and her playfulness, and it was so nice to do after playing so much of this vulnerable, beaten-down woman, to have this fun moment with Dexter. I also love the scene towards the end where she confronts Paul [Rita's ex-husband] in prison and basically lays it on the line from a place of great strength, where she finally just tells him how it's going to be and how he needs to explain to the kids why he's in prison.
- [About the pilot for _"Dexter" (2006)_ (qv)] When we did the pilot, I was very nervous. I was beginning to work with my favorite actor and I had to do a lot of relaxation to be on set with Michael. I was such a huge fan of his and just couldn't believe I was cast to play opposite him. I was really waiting for someone to come up to me and say it's all a joke.
- I actually find the fans are always supportive and respectful. A couple times I've been approached when I'm buying underwear. That's more embarrassing for me rather than for them because it's like, "Oh hello. I'm just buying some panties."
- (On filming _Rambo (2008)_ (qv)] We spent two months in the jungle without the luxuries of filming in Los Angeles. My trailer looked like a 1952 bomb shelter with what appeared to be the original bedding - it looked like it had never been washed. The heat was extreme and we all lost a lot of weight. I got too thin on that movie. Also, I had to have like 27 vaccinations before I could even get on the plane to go there, I was taking malaria pills, there were poisonous snakes; one day an elephant crashed through the set after escaping from a nearby camp! You never knew what was going to happen next, but as tough as it was - being away from friends and family, the lack of luxury, the language barrier - it was also really exciting. Moviemaking shouldn't be on a comfy soundstage in L.A., it should be out there in the field.
- [on playing the vampire "Darla"] I think I've died four or five times. I honestly believe that they like seeing me covered in blood [laughs]. I just think they have a thing with me and blood. I've died a lot! ... Every time I died, they would give me this big party on the set because I honestly thought it was my last time. I would sob and hug everybody goodbye and say, "It's over!" [laughs] And then a couple of months later, I'd get a phone call to come back. Everybody's now gotten pretty jaded about me dying on the show. I don't get the big party anymore. I don't get the gifts anymore. It's like, "Yeah, we'll see you in a few months." [29 November 2008, The Hollywood Interview.com]
- [about her role in _Saw V (2008)_ (qv)] Yeah, I actually threw up on set, I was freaked out. I knew it was fake, but I couldn't even go near the saw machine during rehearsal. I mean, I was shaking. The challenge for me in that film was, you know - because I'm the perfect moviegoer, I buy into everything. Like, I go on the journey and I totally buy into the whole world that's created and the whole imagination of it all. The challenge for me in that film was like, can I act in something like this. And I had nightmares from it. I didn't sleep very well when I was up there filming, and it was a really interesting process for me, because I've never had a movie affect me in that level, like where I would go home and have dreams about the actual film, and not like your typical actor dreams about showing up naked on set or forgetting your lines, but the actual saw and Jigsaw and all of the elements to it and the traps. I remember doing the first trap where we're attached to - you know, around the neck with the chain? ... It had to be choreographed because we were on pulleys and it had to be very well choreographed so we wouldn't get hurt. But I freaked out and I said to the director "What's going to happen if I don't get the key?" and he was like, "We'll cut." And I was like, "Oh, okay." It feels very real. I mean, there were no safety saws behind us, you know, the things that chopped off your head, they were sharp! ... It's fun but it's very intense. [2009 interview]
- [About her role on _"Dexter" (2006)_ (qv)] I read the pilot script and I loved it. I was like what do I have to do to get on this show? Who do I have to kill? It's the type of programming I like to watch, provocative and edgy. It raises so many questions but doesn't force-feed you any answers and it really calls into question your own moral code. I mean, you find yourself falling in love and rooting for this guy who's a serial killer. You go back and forth on, is what he's doing right or is it wrong, is it right or is it wrong. And I love that kind of show, that challenges your mind [2009 interview].