Childhood & Early Life
Julie Benz was born on May 1, 1972, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Murrysville. Her father George Benz Jr. is a surgeon in Pittsburgh, while her mother Joanne Marie (nee Seemiller) used to be a figure skater.
When Benz was two years old her family settled in Murrysville. At the age of three, she started to learn ice skating. In the 1988 U.S. Championships in junior ice dancing, she finished at 13th place with her skating partner David Schilling.
At the age of 14, she suffered a stress fracture in her right leg which forced her to take a break from skating. By 1989, Julie Benz’s figure skating career was over, so she got involved in local theatre. She was cast in the play ‘Street Law’. Her first movie role was a small part in ‘The Black Cat’ segment of the Dario Argento/George A. Romero horror movie ‘Two Evil Eyes’ (1990).
Benz graduated from Franklin Regional High School in 1990 following which she studied acting at New York University.
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In 1991, Julie Benz was seen in the TV show ‘Hi Honey, I’m Home!’ but the show got cancelled after running for two seasons.
In 1993, she graduated from New York University and moved to Los Angeles. Two weeks after her move, she earned herself a small part in an episode of the series ‘Married ....with Children’.
She was also seen in many other TV shows like ‘Hang Time’, ‘High Tide’, ‘Step by Step’, and ‘Boy Meets World’. In addition to this, she had a small role in the TV movie ‘The Barefoot Executive’.
In 1996, she got the opportunity to audition for the role of Buffy Summers for the TV series ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. But unfortunately the part went to Sarah Michelle Gellar and Benz was offered a small role of a vampire, Darla. Initially her role was limited to the pilot episode, but on seeing her good performance, her part was extended to a few more episodes.
This helped her gain visibility in her career and earned her many TV shows and movies. She was then seen in TV shows like ‘The Big Easy’, ‘Fame L.A.’, ‘Ask Harriet’, and ‘Payne’. In addition to these, she also did many TV movies like ‘A Walton Easter’, ‘Jawbreaker’, ‘Dirt Merchant’, and ‘Satan’s School for Girls’.
In 2000, Benz reprised her role of Darla in the Buffy spin-off series ‘Angel’. She appeared in every season of the show. Also, she was the only white actor in the romantic comedy movie ‘The Brothers’ (2001).
Benz was then seen in the TV series ‘Peacemakers’, ‘Coupling’, ‘NCIS’ and ‘Oliver Beene’. She got the lead role in the Hallmark TV movie ‘The Long Shot’, and provided voice of Miranda Keyes in the video game ‘Halo 2’. She was also featured in the critically acclaimed TV movie ‘Lackawanna Blues’.
She landed the lead female role of Vicky in the Sci-Fi Channel original film ‘Locusts: The 8th Plague’. Along with this, she appeared in some famous TV series like ‘Supernatural’, ‘CSI: Miami’, ‘Law & Order’, and ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’.
She played the lead role in the movie ‘Circle of Friends’, and also played the lead role in the fifth film of the popular ‘Saw’ horror franchise, ‘Saw 5’, as Brit. Benz was also one of the leading actors in the famous TV series ‘Dexter’. She had a supporting role in ‘Punisher: War Zone’ and ‘Rambo’ in 2008.
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In the short film, ‘Kidnapping Caitlynn,’ Benz played the lead role. It was a movie written by her close friend and was premiered at the Vail Film Festival in 2009. She had a recurring role in the series ‘Desperate Housewives’ as Robin Gallagher.
In 2010, she landed a lead role in ‘No Ordinary Family’. The show premiered on September 28, 2010 and was cancelled on May 13, 2011 only after one season. In the same year, she was cast in another TV show ‘A Gifted Man’ but even that show was cancelled in May 2012.
In 2015, she got a recurring role in CBS series ‘Hawaii Five-O’ and also starred in TV movie ‘Charming Christmas.’
Julie Benz has appeared in a number of TV series, TV movies, and feature films. She is primarily known to play roles of women who have suffered great losses in life. Even though she didn’t get the lead part in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ her role as Darla was well-appreciated and got her noticed. Initially, she was supposed to feature only in the pilot episode, but her good performance earned her a few more episodes.
Another unforgettable role Benz played was in the thriller show ‘Dexter’. Her role as Rita Bennett, a troubled divorced woman, was highly commendable. She was nominated for many awards and also won a few for her great performance.
For the film ‘Punisher: War Zone’ (2008), Julie Benz had to dye her natural blonde hair brown.
She is very often mistaken for Julie Bowen, another TV actress, and when asked for her autograph, she sometimes signs Bowen’s name!
Tim Benz, who is a sports radio/TV personality, is her cousin.