Q&A: Julie Benz Gears Up for 'Defiance'
The former Dexter star talks sci-fi, saying goodbye, and her upcoming SyFy series, Defiance.
January 30, 2013
Julie Benz in a scene from Defiance
One cool thing about Defiance, which premieres April 15, is that it's both a television series and a video game.
JULIE BENZ: Yes, it's the first time they've ever done this type of multi-platform launch where they have a game and a show. What's really cool is that the game will launch two weeks before the show and things will happen in the game that will carry over into the show and things will happen in the show that will carry over into the game
What was it about the show that appealed to you as an actress?
JB: Well, the scripts were really good, and I was looking for a strong female character to play. Especially the older you get as a woman, that's harder to find. Most scripts I get sent to me are victim, mother, wife. To find a character that was none of those things, and dynamic, and in a position of power is rare.
Your character Amanda really is in a power position, she's the mayor of Defiance?
JB: Yes, the newly appointed mayor, which means that she's in a little bit over her head. Amanda wasn't really groomed to become a mayor—she's not a politician by nature. She was appointed because the old mayor became sick, so she took over until they have another election. She's an idealist. She really believes humans and aliens can live peacefully together as one. She's tough, too.
Nice. Can you relate to that sense of being in over your head?
JB: I feel like I'm in over my head every single day! As an actor, every role is monumental in some way and it can be overwhelming.
What is it like when a role comes to an end? Was Rita Morgan on Dexter hard to let go of when the character died?
JB: I did struggle with a certain level of grief and mourning over Rita because it was unexpected to me, it was really sudden. I only found out right before they put out the last script. And I felt sad, because she was never coming back to life. She was human and she was dead and I'd never get to play her again. All of my other characters I've played in the sci-fi genre have had supernatural abilities, so even though they died they came back to life. So there was this weird mourning period I had to go through.
Did you ever think you'd end up the star of a sci-fi series?
JB: I did love sci-fi growing up, but like every little girl, I wanted to be the next Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts, to be ‘the girl’ in those romantic comedies. When I met [Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator] Joss [Whedon] he saw something in me. He really pushed me out of my comfort zone to do something besides comedy. I never in a million years thought that would have happened. I'd always seen myself as a comedy girl. Drama was hard for me, but I could be funny. Then, from Buffy to Angel to Roswell and Dexter, suddenly I was being thought of as a dramatic actress.
What is it about the sci-fi horror genre that appeals to you?
JB: I find the scripts more interesting and the characters have more depth, because the givens are so extreme. For years I ran around pretending to be a vampire, so you have to really create and utilize your imagination. Same with Defiance. You're creating a whole new world and you have to make it believable. That really appeals to me.