Set to join the likes of John Travolta and Billy Zane at this year's Supanova (in Adelaide and Brisbane) is internationally acclaimed, thriller and chiller sweetheart, Julie Benz.
The biggest pop-culture event in Australia, Supanova is getting bigger and better with iconic silver-screen veterans being added to the panels of exhibitioners left, right, and centre. Let Julie Benz be a testament to this.
Julie's credentials are out of this world, having appeared in more than 25 blockbuster films and nearly double that number in television programmes.
However, Julie's real breakout moment was her portrayal of Darla in Joss Whedon's 'Buffy: The Vampire Slayer', and its spin-off series 'Angel'.
Darla's character was only meant to be in the pilot episode of the former, but Benz's performance blew Joss and his team of writers away, as Darla became a recurring character with her own beautifully dark and tragic arc. “I'm happy; I was mostly used as a plot point/ twist” Julie says about Darla.
“They described it very early on after the pilot that they wanted this sort of 'love triangle', and to make Darla a part of Angel's past.
“On 'Angel' is where we really got to explore Darla. . . At the end of S1 on 'Angel', when I was brought back naked in a box, that was really the turning point. . . and then in S2 we could really explore Darla's history with Angel and how she impacted on him.”
Benz has always had a knack for displaying a sort of vulnerability within her characters: Rita Bennett from Showtime's hit series 'Dexter', is a prime example. Benz manages to harness the fragile and broken characterisations to make Rita a complex, multi-dimensional, yet entirely innocent woman – arguably one of the only truly benevolent characters in the show.
Rita's role of the gentle, unsuspecting girlfriend often served as a much needed dynamic shift throughout what was usually a very tense viewing experience.
Julie recalls how hard it could be to portray a woman who didn't realise her significant other was a serial killer. “The most challenging part with Rita was sometimes I had to say lines, where she's like 'Oh Dex, I'm so thankful you're normal!', and it was hard because Julie knows he's not, you know?
“You have to be simple with that delivery as an actress, make it just so simple – it's hard not to spin on that ball because the audience is going 'He's not normal!'”
Often cast as the sexual provocateur or as the beautiful damsel in distress, Julie approaches these roles with an empowered and inspired mindset – often adding her own elements of extra scriptural characterisation. “I think as a woman, I embrace all of those sides of myself. I would say that I prefer playing more of a badass than I do a damsel in distress.
“But I think you have to find the strength within the damsel – so I would constantly be like, 'where is this character strong, and what is her Achilles heel?' So I don't really label them ahead of time in those categories.”
On the sci-fi series 'Defiance', Julie played Mayor Amanda Rosewater. “[She was the] hero of the show and I wasn't allowed to do anything bad with her – so I gave her a drinking problem!” laughs Julie.
“They wrote it into the script. By S2, I was a drug addict with an alcohol problem. So I created her darkness.”
No stranger to Australian shores, or the Supanova convention, Julie is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the rest of the illustrious guests on this year's line-up, a portion of which Julie has worked with in the past, and maybe sneaking in a cuddle with a koala while she's here.
“I love Australia. I love the lifestyle. I love the food. I love the weather. I love the animals. I can't wait to hold a koala!” Julie beams.
“I'm excited to see John Travolta again – I worked with him a couple of years ago, it will be nice to say hi. I'm a HUGE Jason Isaacs fan, so I might freak out a little bit when I meet him. Sean Patrick Flanery is going to be there, and I worked with him on 'Boondock Saints II', and Amy Acker who I worked with on 'Angel', so there is also a little bit of a reunion feel going on.”
Aside from her reunion with Supanova's star-studded guest list, Julie is excited to meet her Australian fans. Events like Supanova are very hands-on experiences, often boasting some of the most fiercely loyal fan bases.
“I find the fans in Australia super polite and respectful. They are very appreciative that we're there, and we're very appreciative that they're there – so it's this mutual appreciation. I've never had a bad experience.”
Before Julie put down the phone to tend to her three restless puppies, she imparts some final words of wisdom for anyone looking to start an acting career.
“If you love it, do it, and don't let anybody tell you no! But you have to really love it and you have to really do it. Study, take classes, get yourself out there, upload videos to YouTube, whatever it takes. You need to believe in yourself more than anybody else.”