Interview with Julie Benz of "Taken: The Search for Sophie Parker" on Lifetime - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Julie Benz in "Taken"

Interview with Julie Benz of "Taken: The Search for Sophie Parker" on Lifetime 9/10/13

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 enjoy it!

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!

Interview part 1  Interview part 2

Here is the transcribed version by Gisele. - I will be going through and adding more of it later if need be.

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 shows since!

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 movie?

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 for it.

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 the movie?

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 season?

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 grieving?

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 quickly!

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 to end.

Suzanne: How long will you be filming up in Toronto?

Julie: We're up here until the end of December.

Suzanne: Anything else you'd like to say to your fans?

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.

Official Site

Review of "Taken: The Search for Sophie Parker"

Older Interviews with Julie:

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