Julie Benz is one of my favorite actresses. She's been in
a lot of great shows over the years. I've interviewed her a
few times now. She's very sweet, and what a great actress!
Here is the audio of our interview. I hope you
If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on
this link and save it to your computer. It should work
better that way!
Suzanne: I'm very glad to speak with you. I've
been a fan of yours ever since "Hi, Honey. I'm Home"! And
of course, you were great in "Buffy" and "Angel" and so many
So your movie "Taken: The Search for Sophie Parker" is
about 2 girls abducted and made into sex slaves, and you
play Stevie, right?
Julie: I play Stevie Parker. I'm a New York City
cop, and my daughter goes on spring break with her friend to
Moscow, and they get abducted into a sex slavery ring, and I
go after her and find her and take on everyone in Moscow to
bring her back.
Suzanne: What else can you tell us about the
Julie: What really appealed to me from the script
was a couple of things. One being it was a woman in power
versus a woman in peril. In the story, Stevie teams up with
a CIA agent named Nadia, and so it's two women who basically
go after the Russian mafia to get her daughter back, and you
don't see that very often. Two women in power, helping each
other out. And that was very appealing to me. And also, I
love the character's strength -- Stevie's strength. She's
very focused. She has one goal, to get her daughter back,
and she doesn't let anybody get in the way of that. Even
though she has very deep emotions about it all, she has to
keep it very contained and stay very focused. And she's
pretty much a bad-ass. I mean, I like that. I like playing
bad-asses, playing women in power in powerful situations.
Suzanne: Was it originally written for a man?
Julie: You know, it might have been. I don't know.
What I liked was that she's -- you can easily see a man in
this role, and you wouldn't -- There are so many gender
issues we deal with today in talking about roles, and I've
been doing a lot of reading about gender roles in
television, and women -- you know, we describe, she's a
strong female character, and in many ways, it sucks that we
still have to say that. Does that make sense? It should just
be a given that the female character is strong, just like
women are in real life. Women are very strong. We give
birth. We are nurturers. Our roles through society for
generations have been of strength, but we still have to
fight for strong women. What I like about Stevie is she's
also flawed. I mean, she's not perfect. She's not the
perfect mother. She's got her own baggage. She's flawed but
she -- there are probably masculine characteristics played
because of that, because she's flawed, because she's strong,
but that's what male characters are naturally, you know what
I mean? [Chuckles] Right now, at this point in my career,
that's what I really look for -- flawed, strong women.
[Laughs] There's still this gender bias, and in some ways,
we do have equality, but in other ways, we're still fighting
Suzanne: What will fans like best about the movie?
Julie: First and foremost, it's an action
thriller. It's fun; it's interesting. It has an exotic
backdrop. We shot in Bulgaria for it to be Moscow. It's very
compelling and gripping. Also, it uses the backdrop of human
sex trafficking, as well. It's an issue that was important
to me, because it's the third largest-growing crime
worldwide behind drugs and weapons. It happens right here in
our own backyard. It's not just in foreign countries. It
happens in the United States. I remember when we were
filming the movie, they'd just busted a sex trafficking ring
in New York City, like right in the heart of Manhattan, and
I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it was
happening in New York City.
Suzanne: What was the toughest part about doing
Julie: I love the toughest parts. Some of the
stunts were pretty tough. I took a bad fall one day and
really banged up my elbow pretty bad, but I love that stuff.
That doesn't seem tough to me. The emotional element of the
script was obviously very difficult, but as an actor, that's
what we crave. That's what we want. It fuels our engine. I
would say some of the toughest parts were our filming
locations were difficult to get to and kind of isolated. I
love every aspect of filmmaking, and there's nothing that
seems too tough. The people were so generous and kind that
we worked with. The language barrier obviously was hard. I
was fascinated. We worked with these amazing Bulgarian
actors who were speaking English but with a Russian accent.
They had to translate all this in their heads, and they were
just tremendous. The man who played the police chief. He's a
big Bulgarian theater star, and I was just so fascinated by
him. I loved every day he was on set and I got to work with
him. He was so tremendous to work with and such an amazing
actor. No one could figure out what he does; it was just an
amazing thing to watch. Every nuance that he did was
amazing. As a cast, we had a lot of fun. We had great actors
in the movie, and we were all staying in the same hotel and
really bonded. It really brought us together. We'd all have
breakfast in the morning together, and we'd all meet after
work for dinner or a drink and talk about the day, and it
was a really great experience.
Suzanne: You're filming "Defiance" second season
right now, right? How is that going?
Julie: Oh, it's going great. It's really exciting
to be back for season two. I mean, last year we were all
excited, but there was still a level of nervousness, because
nobody was sure how it was going to be received. We weren't
sure if audiences were gonna like it or not. So, it's great
to come back for season two, knowing that we have a solid
fan base and that people really love the show. It kind of
frees us up to push the envelope a little bit more this
season. I mean, the gloves are off this season, and
craziness is happening on "Defiance."
Suzanne: I love the show. I was shocked that they
killed off Kenya! Did you know ahead of time that they would
do that, or was that a big shock to you, partway into the
Julie: Is she dead? I don't know.
Suzanne: Will Amanda be spending part of the 2nd
season trying to figure out what happened to Kenya, and
Julie: Amanda doesn't know her sister's missing in
her mind, and that's all she knows.
Suzanne: Both Amanda and Stevie seem to be tough
women who have had a lot of loss in their lives. Do you see
any other similarities?
Julie: Yeah, definitely. Stevie would do anything
to protect her daughter. There's a great line in the film
where she asks a man -- That really shows the level of
commitment and focus that she has and how much she loves her
daughter, and I think Amanda has that same idea but with her
sister Kenya. It's that same -- She would kill for Kenya.
Suzanne: What was it like working with Gale Harold
for a while? I was very upset that they killed him off so
Julie: Ohh! He was great. He was so perfectly
cast. You could understand the relationship between Amanda
and Connor so well, and a lot of it had to do with casting
him in the role. He was just so perfect for it. He was so
compelling, and it really worked. Even I was sad when I read
what happened in the script. I was like, "Why? Why can't
Amanda get a little? Can't she get something?" His stay was
never meant to be long-term on our show, and I actually
think it turned out to be longer than what was originally
written to be. So, we were lucky to have him, and he's a
very busy actor, so...
Suzanne: Anything else you can reveal about
Defiance's second season?
Julie: At the beginning of season two, the gloves
are off, rules have been broken, and it's craziness. We had
a table read yesterday of one of our scripts, and we were
all just left breathless afterwards, 'cause it's so exciting
to read and to hear it out loud. For Amanda, she starts in a
much darker place this season. She's lost, she's lost a lot,
and she has to figure out how to redefine herself and what
her role is and how she fits in, and she has a lot of time
on her hands, and she loves her Scotch, so... [Laughs] She
starts in a much-darker place than we saw her in season one.
There's so much I wish I could say. It is so good. I mean,
it is really good. In season one, we had to establish the
whole world of Defiance and all these characters. In season
two, we basically rip it all apart. It's great. But now that
everybody knows the characters and knows the town, now we
can get in there and mess with it and have some fun with it,
and really make things crazy. We have the video game aspect
of it, as well, so it's the first time it plays across two
platforms, so TV and the coordination of the game and the
show is -- they had to create a whole other job for somebody
to be the go-between between the game and the show to make
sure everything flows simultaneously, because the game is
still going on while we're on hiatus, and then the show
picks up, and the game still continues, and so we have to
make sure it's all fluid. The backlot where the town of
Defiance is built is really spectacular. Where we film is
like tucked away in the middle of a suburb of Toronto called
Scarborough where there's a gas station across the street
and an indoor soccer field, and we're kind of tucked behind
there. From the road, you can't even see it, and then when
you drive back and around, you see this town, and it's like
this giant post-apocalyptic three streets, and it's amazing.
It's like all the buildings work. It's really like nothing
I've ever seen before.
Suzanne: Have you been watching Dexter since you
left that show? Very sad that it's ending.
Julie: I haven't, and it's only because I have a
hard time watching any show after I've been on it, because
in some ways, the magic has been ruined for me. I have been
keeping tabs, and I do know what's going on. Although I
don't know how it's gonna end, because I don't want it to
end. I can't believe it's over. I just don't want it to be
over. I'm the girl who like when I read a very good book, I
won't read the last chapter, because I don't want it to end,
so I'll just have it sitting on my nightstand, and I go,
"I've got to finish that. I've got to finish that." That's
how I feel Dexter is. I don't think anybody is ready for it
Suzanne: How long will you be filming up in
Julie: We're up here until the end of December.
Suzanne: Anything else you'd like to say to your
Julie: No. No. Just follow me on
Twitter. Tweeting is my hobby. I think it's a good
movie, and I'm very proud of it and the work we did. We shot
it in 15 days. It was shot very fast, and I think we
accomplished something quite good for that pace that we had
to keep up. The script was really good when I first read it,
and it only got better throughout the process. Lifetime is
redefining women -- women in power. Defiance premiers in
June of 2014.
Julie Benz ("Dexter," "Defiance") is starring in a new
Lifetime TV movie, "Taken: The Search
for Sophie Parker," premiering on Saturday, September 21 at
8pm. The film deals with human
sex trafficking which has been a hot button topic of late.
18 year-old Sophie Parker goes on spring break to Moscow
with her friend Janie Hillman, daughter of the American
Ambassador to Russia. When a reluctant Sophie is convinced
by boy-crazy Janie to sneak out of the U.S. Embassy and go
to a nightclub, the two girls are drugged and abducted by a
Russian sexual slavery ring operating in the heart of
Moscow. Sophie's widowed mother, Stevie, is a tough NYPD
detective. When she gets an alarming and mysterious call
from Sophie's cell-phone, Stevie takes the next plane to
Russia, where she moves heaven and earth, and the Moscow
police, on her frantic and action-packed quest to save her
only child. Julie Benz, Amy Bailey, Naomi Battrick and
Jeffrey Meek star.
Review of "Taken:
The Search for Sophie Parker"
Older Interviews with Julie:
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