Julie Benz has made quite a name for herself – she’s a member of the Whedonverse, playing Darla on both Buffy and Angel; she’s the lovely wife of serial killer Dexter Morgan on Showtime’s Dexter; she was in the latest Rambo movie, among a wide variety of other projects, each one a little bit different. Starting today, in theatres across the country, you’ll find her as the latest member of the Boondock Saints family, taking the reins from Willem Dafoe as the special agent after everyone’s favorite McManus brothers in Troy Duffy’s long awaited sequel The Boondock Saints: All Saints Day.
I caught up with Julie a couple weeks ago to chat about what’s happening on Dexter this season and what we can expect from her character Eunice in TBS: ASD!
Last time we talked, we were talking about Season 2 of Dexter and Rambo; now here we are talking about Season 4 and your latest movie! I’m very excited for both – let’s jump into Dexter first. What is coming up for Rita this season?
A lot! Obviously, at the beginning of the season, Rita’s achieved everything that’s she’s ever wanted in her life. There’s no drama left anymore. She’s got the perfect husband, and the great kids, and the new baby, and the amazing house in the suburbs. She is living the dream. She has everything that she’s always wanted. Just as we all know on Dexter, nothing ever stays the same [laughs]. No one’s really ever allowed to be happy on the show.
I think there a lot of differences between the Rita we first met, and the Rita we see now. She’s a lot stronger, she’s gotten over her past, and we definitely see a different person now.
Yeah, I mean, you see a stronger Rita, and a lot of it is what makes the show so compelling to watch because you see this train wreck about to happen because she’s really grown her strength through the love of Dexter. And basically, what would happen if she ever finds out. It would destroy her.
A lot of questions that come up when I mention talking to you is the idea of would you want to know, would you want Rita to find out?
I mean, let me ask you this, would you be able to handle it if you found out that your husband, that you have a child with, is a serial killer? I wouldn’t [laughs]. Okay! So, no matter how strong you get, I don’t think we’re equipped as human beings to deal with that kind of news [laughs]. My personal thoughts on it are I don’t think she would even believe it. You could even show her the show Dexter and say we’ve been following your husband with cameras, and this is what he does in his free time, and she would be like, that’s not true. That is not true. She would totally be in denial about it. I don’t think of it as naiveté, but more out of love. Because then, what would that say about her, and what would that say about the child that they’ve created. At the end of the day, it’s human nature, our minds don’t go there. We’re not going to think, oh, my husband is staying out late, he must be out killing people [laughs].
After being on a show like Dexter, that is something might come up in my mind ha!
Well, now, it does! I do question my boyfriend’s whereabouts at all times, worried that he might be out serial killing! [laughs]
What else is coming up for the other characters on the show? What can we look forward to?
There’s that blossoming love story that we’ve seen between Batista and LaGuerta and we’ll definitely see more of that. We saw the return of Lundy and Deb struggling with her own issues in the romance department. We see more in this season, we see everybody’s worlds really start to collide this season, more so than in season’s past. It’s a very interesting season, a very important season, and I think more importantly that the ending is so shocking that you don’t want to miss it.
I talked to David a few weeks ago, and you hadn’t started shooting the ending yet – hearing now that it’s another big “game changer” kind of ending – it’s nice to hear that you guys still get shocked by what’s to come, so that the audience will, too!
This season finale is different than any of the ones we’ve had in the past. This one really rocks this show at its core. It will change the show forever. This show and Dexter’s world will never be the same after this one.
What are some of your favorite qualities about Rita these days, maybe versus when you first started the role?
I really loved the damaged Rita. I loved playing her damaged and fragile and vulnerable. I loved having no makeup, no hair, being stripped completely of the outside artifice. It was very freeing. It was a little disappointing when the network and the producers wanted me to put that artifice back on! [laughs] It’s been a very difficult thing to accept, because I think what made Rita so lovely was that she was this damaged, fragile bird. But, you know, the character did need a place to grow to. She has definitely grown into this very confident woman. What I love about her now, is that she has an amazing positive outlook. After everything that she’s been through, she still believes in the knight in shining armor, and she still believes in love and romance and you know, I think in many ways, she’s similar to me in that she’s not a very suspicious person. She believes that everybody is good and has goodness in them and she really believes in Dexter’s goodness, and I think that’s rare. A lot of fans say Rita’s dumb or naïve, or they hate her, but it’s really that she’s a pure heart. She’s very honest, she has some struggles of her own, but at the end of the day, she’s very much a good day, trying to lead a good life after having so many horrible things happen to her.
I love the relationship with Astor this season too – her hitting the preteen attitude. So true to life!
I know! It’s great, it’s funny!
I want to switch gears, because we want to talk about Boondock Saints – the original is one of those movies that when I’m trying to stay up late, I put it on, because I can’t keep my eyes off of it. Had you been a fan before becoming involved in the sequel?
Not at all [laughs]. Not at all. I had absolutely no clue. I was probably one of the few people on the planet that had never heard of Boondock Saints. I was going in to audition for it, and I got to meet with Troy, and I really liked what he had to say as a director, and I really liked his vision. I loved the character of Eunice, she’s like nothing I’ve ever played before. For me, it was more about the character, and working with Troy, and then once I got cast, and I started telling people, I realized, [laughs] Oh my gosh, this is bigger than I ever imagined! It’s definitely exciting to be a part of. The fans are diehard. They’re like rabid, and crazy. We were at Comic Con, I mean, I’ve been to Comic Con, I’m a Comic Con veteran, I’ve been numerous times, with different projects, and I’ve never seen the sheer insanity and madness that I saw at the Boondock Saints panel!
It’s the epitome of a cult classic movie that everyone knows, and if they know it, they know every single line.
I think too, because this is 8 years in the making, the fans have just been dying for more. It really lives up to what they’re going to expect.
A lot of people were worried about what could possibly be the story of a sequel, ten years later. What can you tell fans to settle their fears, what happens?
The brothers are back. They come back. Basically, it picks up kind of where they left off, but obviously, 10 years later. I don’t want to reveal too much, but they’re obviously after the bad guys. Eunice is Smecker’s (Dafoe) protégé and she shows up, and she takes the boys on toe to toe. For me, it was a great experience, because for once I got to play a character that wasn’t a love interest or a victim. I know a lot of fans are like, oh my god, they brought a woman, please we don’t want a love interest. She’s not a love interest, you don’t have to worry!
Oh yeah, Troy was very clear in his video blogs – you know we have a female lead. She’s not a love interest, she’s actually going to be this strong woman that goes toe to toe.
She’s a total badass. I describe her as the woman that every man wants to fuck and every woman wants to be. At least, I know I want to be her, just from playing her. She’s feminine and sexy and still very much a woman, and also very strong, extremely smart, completely capable. A weapons specialist, she can do it all. But yet, she’s still sexy. She wears 6 inch stiletto heels to crimes scenes, and pink rubber gloves. She’s very southern, and bubbly and friendly, but you give her attitude and she’s going to set you straight. For me, it was great to delve into. I recently saw the film, and it was probably one of the first times that I’ve watched something that I’ve been in, and not seen myself. Does that make sense? I really felt like I was watching a character, and not me. There’s nothing of the everyday Julie in the role. [laughs] It’s a fantasy Julie!
Was it hard to come into a set like that where the vast majority had been together a part of this family for years?
Being the only woman in the only cast, everyone is very polite and gentlemanly. They’re all going out of their way to make me feel welcome. You know, the inside jokes, I still don’t get [laughs]. There are a lot of inside jokes and I still don’t understand all of them. There’s a little bit of being the new kid in school. Everyone was very warm and welcoming on the set. What’s amazing is that they have almost the whole cast back and almost the whole crew as well. Everyone was so excited to be back, and to be working on the sequel family. It’s an amazing family that Troy has created.