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SMGFAN Exclusive Interviews

November 11, 2003's Exclusive Interview
with Julie Benz
(Darla on Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel)
© 2003 recently had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Julie Benz, a Buffy and Angel fan favorite.

NOTE: Please do not repost this interview (whole or in part) anywhere else. Provide a link to this page instead. Thank you.

Image 1 courtesy of Image 2 (C) Twentieth Century Fox

Julie Benz JPM: You competed in the 1988 US Figure Skating Championships (Ice Dance) and placed 13th with your partner, David Schilling. Very impressive. Do you think that your experience in figure skating helped you in your pursuit of an acting career?

Julie Benz (JB): Definitely! I think the most important lesson I learned as an ice skater is that there’s no such thing as overnight success. You have to work very hard every single day. I trained 8 hours a day 7 seven days a week and I had 2 weeks off in a year. I‘ve been doing that from the age of three until I was sixteen when I retired from the sport. Everyone else trains just as hard as well and that there really is no such a thing as overnight success. You really have to work hard and apply yourself and by applying yourself and working hard and being diligent, you can achieve success.

JPM: Did you have to audition for the role of Darla or was it offered straight to you (since you had previously auditioned for the role of Buffy)?

JB: I auditioned for the role of Buffy and that’s how I met Joss. He really liked me but we all agreed that I wasn’t right for Buffy. And because he really liked what I brought into the room even though it wasn’t correct for that role, he offered me the role of, she was actually called 'Vampire Girl', and that’s how Darla developed from there.

Glenn: What was your initial reaction to the ‘vampire girl’ character?

JB: I was a little nervous at first cause I had no idea what he was expecting in the role. And I had never played an evil character before up until that point so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do as far as the acting choices were. When they took me to do the camera test for the vampire make up, after they put the prosthetic on, I went though the entire process, I went back to my trailer and I looked in the mirror and I smiled. And I went "that’s creepy". And that’s how I ended up developing Darla. She really just enjoys what she does. The make up does most of the work so I thought if she just enjoys what she does, enjoys the hunt and the killing, and all of that, you know, kinda gets off on it then that’s very creepy with this face on.

Glenn: How did the show's premise strike you at a time when the only known Buffy was a slightly related movie?

JB: I had never seen the movie. I finally saw the movie 2 years ago. The show is so not the movie. I actually, when I read the script I knew it was going to be a big hit. In my gut, my gut said that this show was going to be it. And really, it was the show, the anchor, for the WB. So it kinda made the WB what it is today.

Glenn: Could you tell us a little bit about that first day on the Buffy set?

JB:The very first day was the make up test for the vampire. I arrived and went right in to make up so nobody saw me beforehand. And I was in the make up chair for about 3 hours and then they took me down for a camera test and that’s how I met the whole cast...I was in vampire face. Sarah and I had met prior to that, we know each other from back in New York. She knew who I was but everybody else, nobody had a clue what I looked like. So then after they took the make up off and I went to craft service to get something to eat and they were all standing there and I started talking to Sarah, I said something and I remember a bunch of crew and everybody standing was like "oh my God!" They couldn’t believe the transition. So, that was my first day. I remember thinking how bizarre because I couldn’t understand why people weren’t reacting to me as if they’ve already met me.

JPM: The fans rejoiced (you are a fan favorite, you do know that, right?) when Darla was brought back to life on Angel. What can you say about your character’s progression on that show and the ending given to her (although we all know that in Jossverse, nothing is permanent)?

Julie Benz JB: I really feel that I was given a gift when they brought Darla back to life and really explored her past and her relationship with Angel. I was really given a gift as an actor to play her cause she really just has an amazing story and know I learned a long time ago that it’s not even worth it to try and figure out, you know, where the character is going or who the character is. I don’t think as big and as creative as Joss. [laughs] So, there were times when they first brought her back to life, I thought that she was still a vampire and then I find out like 2 episodes into it, no she’s human. [laughs] So you kinda just have to let go of any type of idea you might have and just play what’s written. And it really was an amazing gift to be given that opportunity to explore her life the way we did. When I received the last script, where Darla sacrifices her life, I kinda knew that was going to happen, kinda where it was going, but when I received the script I just thought it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been given as far as gifts go. I mean it really was a gift from the writers. It really did her justice. I mean they served her well. Darla was never a character that just fed information or was wasted. She’s a character that every actor dreams of playing. [A mother giving up her life for a child is the ultimate sacrifice] Yeah, She finally redeemed herself! After years of being hated! she finally made herself loved.

JPM: Do you have a ‘memorable’ story from the Buffy set that you can share with the fans?

JB: Over the weekend I actually caught, I haven’t watched the show, my stuff on the show for a very long time, and over the weekend, I caught the episode where Angel kills me [Angel]. I remember just filming that, filming when he stakes me. We, David and I, just kept getting the giggles. And every time I had to turn around and look at him and say ‘Angel’ then drop out of the frame we just kept laughing. And one time during one take, I turned to him it was beautiful, it was great I had the heartbreak and I turned and I say Angel and I fell out of frame and they had a mattress down on the ground for me to land on. Well… I missed! And I hit the floor and all you heard was ‘ouch’. We just thought it was the funniest thing. [Apparently this 'blooper' was included in the wrap party gag reel for season 1]. I think David and I were just amazed that there we were running around pretending to be vampires and getting paid for it. [laughs]

In part 2 of our special and exclusive interview with Julie Benz, she tells us what it was like working with Sarah, which Hollywood giant (producer and filmmaker) watches Angel and what her next project is. Stay tuned...

We would like to thank Mr. Lieber for the opportunity and for facilitating this interview. Very special thanks go to Ms. Julie Benz for taking the time out of her busy schedule to chat with me quite early in the morning. She's not only very gracious but she's very real as well. We wish her all the best in all her future endeavors. ~JPM

© 2003