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Julie Benz : Johnetta 'Johnny' Prentice
With the ability to transform from a bubbly to a tortured and tough brunette, Julie Benz captivates any audience with her radiant beauty and infectious energy. The acclaimed actress is best-known for her work on Showtime’s two-time Golden Globe nominee and 2008 Emmy®-nominated hit series, “Dexter” as Rita Bennett, the title character’s (award-winning Michael C. Hall) tormented girlfriend, a role for which she won a 2006 Golden Satellite Award for Best Supporting TV Actress. In a twist that sent shockwaves through the fan community, Benz’s character was murdered in the season four finale, one of the most memorable send-offs in television history. Her next role will be as a Master’s Degree-carrying stripper on the ABC hit, “Desperate Housewives.”
Star of cult classics such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” and “Roswell,” Benz has never been one to shy away from challenging roles, and she recently continued her streak as a serial thriller alongside Sylvester Stallone in 2008’s action film, “Rambo,” performing stunts and starring as a missionary taken prisoner by sadistic Burmese soldiers, and as the vengeful blue-collar wife of a murdered cop in “The Punisher: War Zone.” Benz recently returned to the big screen in “Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” reuniting herself with the original cast, and in “Saw 5,” in which she plays one of JigSaw’s latest victims.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania to a general vascular surgeon and a homemaker, Benz is the youngest of three children, all of whom are accomplished ice skaters. A natural performer, Benz competed in the 1988 U.S. Championships in junior ice dancing with her partner David Schilling, coming in 13th. When she was 14, Benz suffered a crippling stress fracture and had to take time off, but once she stepped off the ice, she was able to step onto the stage, something she had always been interested in. Starring in numerous community theater productions, Benz earned a whirlwind of attention.
Benz’s first major role came at 16 when she was cast in the ‘Black Cat’ episode of the Dario Argento and George A. Romero horror film, “Two Evil Eyes,” sharing a notable scene with Harvey Keitel. Next came a recurring role on the first ever ABC and Nick At Night collaborative TV series, “Hi Honey, I’m Home.”
Benz took a break from her budding career to attend New York University, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. While attending, she graduated in three years with honors and studied abroad in Moscow, enriching her appreciation for the Stanislavski acting method. Upon graduation, Benz moved to Los Angeles and immediately earned her first guest-starring role on “Married with Children,” which helped open the door to features, including a role as the receptionist in the two-time Academy Award winning film, “As Good as it Gets,” with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.
In one of the most critically acclaimed and cult classic TV series of all time, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Benz starred as what appeared to be an innocent school girl who was actually a fanged demon and ‘Buffy’s’ (Sarah Michelle Gellar) nemesis. The series was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Shows of All Time, one of TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and was voted #3 in TV Guide’s Top 25 Cult TV Shows of All Time. Her character ‘Darla’ also made a jump to the “Buffy” spin-off series “Angel,” in which Benz starred alongside David Boreanaz as ‘Angel’s’ forbidden lover.
During “Buffy”, Benz also starred in the film “Jawbreaker” as ‘Marcie Fox’ with Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart and Carol Kane, and she recurred on the sci-fi series “Roswell” with Katherine Heigl. She appeared in the Steven Spielberg produced alien abduction miniseries, “Taken” with Dakota Fanning, and lent her voice to the popular “Halo 2” video game as Commander Miranda Keyes. Benz also made several special guest appearances on such hit TV shows as “Supernatural,” “CSI” and “Law and Order.”
With a flourishing career, Benz resides in Los Angeles with her maltese-poodle mix, Bamboo. She enjoys running, weight training, and practicing Cardio Bar. She is an accomplished knitter, and is involved with the charity U.S. Campaign for Burma, thanks to her life-changing experiences shooting “Rambo.”