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Julie Benz

’Angel’s’ Darla Is ’Long Shot’ for Hallmark

By Kate O’Hare

Friday 16 April 2004, by Webmaster

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - Julie Benz has lost count of the number of times she’s died and come back as the vampire Darla since her introduction in the pilot for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and her subsequent appearances on that show and its spin-off, The WB’s "Angel." "I think I’ve died four or five times. The first couple of times, they had a big party for me, and everybody was very sad, but towards the end, it’s like, ’Uh, again? She’ll be back.’ I don’t even get a goodbye party anymore.

"I’m such a fatalist. Each and every time I died, I thought that was it. I cried on set."

As "Angel" heads toward its final goodbye, in its fifth-season finale on May 19, fans can look forward to yet another visit by Darla, in the May 5 episode, called "The Girl in Question." "It was reunion time again," Benz says, "seeing all the crew and the cast, just hanging out, being there. Part of me is very sad the show’s ending, but it had a great run. We were lucky to last this long."

While Benz is keeping details of Darla’s visit close to the vest, she’s happy to talk about all the other things going on in her career. She just finished work as part of the ensemble cast of an upcoming HBO movie called "Lackawanna Blues," playing the abused wife of a boxer (Henry Simmons, "NYPD Blue"). In an it’s-a-small-world twist, her makeup artist was Robert Hall, whose company, Almost Human, designed special-effects makeup for "Buffy" and "Angel."

"Rob beat me up," Benz jokes. "He was brilliant. It looked so real, and people were having a hard time talking to me on set. It was a really bad fat lip and a lot of bruising on the face. It’s a really emotional role."

Unfortunately, although Benz thinks the handsome Simmons is "all that and a bag of chips," they didn’t actually have scenes together.

"The way the movie’s crafted, it feels like we’re together, but we never actually were."

But before all of this, Benz stars in "The Long Shot," a Hallmark Channel movie airing Sunday, April 18, at 9 p.m. ET, directed by Georg Stanford Brown and co-starring Mrasha Mason. She plays Annie Garrett, an abandoned wife and mother trying to build a new life at a California horse ranch, where she is encouraged to try out for a major dressage competition.

While Benz has done some Western trail riding, she had no experience with dressage, an Olympic discipline that tests a rider’s skill and a horse’s training and balance in a balletic series of complicated moves within a defined pattern, sometimes set to music. Although any breed of horse can be used, dressage horses tend to be large and powerful European breeds or Thoroughbred crosses.

"Never once did I feel that a take was picked because of the performance of the horse," Benz says. "It was all trying to find that right marriage of when the horses do something right and the actors do, too. Having a director who’s an actor’s director, fighting for you every step of the way, it’s just great."

The horse Benz rides in the movie was not the one she began with in rehearsals, and there’s a good reason for that.

"I got thrown off during the rehearsal period," she says. "I had only two weeks of rehearsal. They had tried me on a dressage horse. He took advantage of me, reared four feet in the air and bucked me right off the backside of him. I went flying.

"I got back on him, and he tried to do it again. At that point, we decided it wasn’t the right marriage. I have no desire to be thrown off ever again. It was probably the most painful and traumatic moment in my life. I did not break anything. I bruised my ribs really badly, but the doctor said I was very lucky, because I have very strong bones. I still suffer some back problems from it."

Benz also got to see the other side of dressage horses during filming at a horse ranch.

"They’re bred to be so sensitive," she says, "they really are. "I was down at the end of the barn preparing for a very emotional scene. AI was very upset, in what I was working on. I was standing by one of the stalls, I was crying, and all of a sudden I felt this horse nuzzling me from behind. He was a dressage horse, not a movie horse, he just happened to live there at the barn.

"He could feel how upset I was. I didn’t even know his name. It was a very special moment."

1 Message

  • > ’Angel’s’ Darla Is ’Long Shot’ for Hallmark

    18 April 2004 02:15, by Wolverine68

    Oh gripe. Enough with this how many times has Darla died, it’s to much business. It only twice, ok, 4 times if you count being turned into a vampire.

    Still she does take the record. Oh wait, no she doesn’t. On the Xena series, the Calisto & Hope characters had an even worse/better/more annoying records.