Julie M. Benz (born May 1, 1972) is an American actress, known for her roles as Darla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (1997–2004) and Rita Bennett on Dexter (2006–2010), for which she won the 2006 Satellite Awards for Best Supporting Actress.
After graduation from NYU, she moved to Los Angeles. Two weeks after her move, she obtained a bit part in a 1994 episode of Married… with Children and her career began. Her other early TV shows included Hang Time, High Tide, Step by Step and Boy Meets World, plus a small role in the TV movie The Barefoot Executive. In 1996, Benz auditioned for the role of Buffy Summers in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but lost out to Sarah Michelle Gellar. However, she was offered the small role of the vampire Darla in the pilot episode. Her performance was so well-received that her part was expanded to a few more episodes. The role helped launch her career. She reprised her role as Darla in 2000 for the Buffy spin-off series Angel appearing in every season for at least one episode.
She appeared in more TV shows such as The Big Easy and Fame L.A. along with a small role as a receptionist in the movie As Good as It Gets (1997). She played undercover FBI Special Unit agent Kathleen Topolsky on Roswell during its first season. Benz appeared in Peacemakers, Coupling, NCIS and Oliver Beene. Benz also provided the voice of Miranda Keyes for the video game Halo 2. Benz appeared in episodes of Supernatural, CSI: Miami, Law & Order and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Benz played a lead role in the fifth film of the popular horror franchise, Saw V, as Brit, a real-estate developer who is one of Jigsaw’s five victims. She had a supporting role in Punisher: War Zone as Angela. Benz co-starred with Sylvester Stallone in 2008′s Rambo, the fourth film of that series.
She is the lead female character Special Agent Eunice Bloom in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day with fellow FanX Guests Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery. Benz next took a recurring role on Desperate Housewives as Robin Gallagher, a stripper with a heart of gold and a Masters degree in education who gets offered the chance to transition into a more legitimate career. In early 2010, ABC announced that Benz had landed a lead role as Stephanie Powell, in the network’s drama pilot No Ordinary Family. Benz plays the lead female role, Mayor Amanda Rosewater, in the new science fiction series Defiance.