A capacity crowd filled a room in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Thursday for a lively discussion with Julie Benz on the first night of Fan Expo Canada. The former Dexter, Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress spoke about her upcoming series Defiance, her career and her desire to work with Joss Whedon again.
The panel began with Benz promoting her upcoming Syfy drama Defiance, which is shooting in Toronto. Part of a larger transmedia project that will include a massively multiplayer online game, Defiance is set in the near future, where invading aliens began terraforming Earth, scorching the planet and transforming much of its surface into a dusty wasteland. After decades of war, a ceasefire is declared, leaving both sides to find a way to survive on this now almost-alien planet. Viewers will be able to influence the direction of the TV series through the game play.
"I don't understand it, but I'm very excited about it,” Benz said of the project’s interactive aspects. However, she wants to make one thing clear. “Don’t kill me!” she pleaded to the audience. “I think I’ve died enough. I would like to stay alive at least once.”
Benz famously played Angel’s villainous vampire sire and longtime lover on Buffy and Angel, a franchise in which she died four times (more than any other character in the series). She later appeared as Dexter Morgan’s girlfriend, and later wife, Rita Bennett on Dexter before being murdered in the Season 4 finale.
She explained that on Defiance she portrays Amanda Rosewater, mayor of a Defiance, a post-apocalyptic town in which aliens and humans live together in relative peace eight years after a global war. “It’s my job to keep that peace,” she said.
Benz soon opened the floor to questions, and one fan immediately asked whether it was her decision to leave Dexter. The actress blurted out “No!” before the question could even be finished.
"I jumped through hoops to get the role of Rita,” she said, later adding that she read for the role twice, as the first time she supposedly looked too “L.A.” for character. That inspired Benz to return the next day hung over and wearing no makeup and terrible clothing. She read for the role again with barely anyone recognizing her; she received an offer on the spot
She went on to say she loves “provocative and interesting” series like Dexter and understands that television is a writer’s medium, meaning she has no ownership of her characters, and that anyone could go at any moment. She revealed she wasn’t told that Rita was being killed off until days before the scene was shot. To lighten up the mood on the set, her husband threw a party and even transformed her trailer into “a morgue.”
The discussion soon turned to Benz’s Buffy and Angel boss Whedon, and his blockbuster success this year with Marvel’s The Avengers, with a fan asking whether she had heard anything about her playing the Wasp in the sequel.
"No, I haven't,” she replied, “but I like that rumor. Can we start it? Everybody get your phones out and tweet it, tweet it to Joss Whedon!" The crowd laughed and Benz added, “I don’t even know who Wasp is.”
"Let's make this happen, people! Let's see the power of Twitter!” she continued. “I know Joss is on there, I would love that. I would work with [Joss] if he called and read the phone book in his living room."
Defiance is set to premiere in April on Syfy.