Emmy Contender: Julie Benz

'Dexter'

It’s not easy dating a serial killer. Just ask “Dexter” star Julie Benz, who plays the titular character’s girlfriend, Rita Bennett, in Showtime’s creepy drama.

“I think she sees his goodness,” Benz explains. “Dexter’s a gentleman when he’s around her, and he’s great with her kids. I think what bonds them together is the damage they’ve both suffered.”

Although Rita was never subjected to witnessing the death of a parent the way Dexter did as a young boy, her ex-husband is an abusive drug addict. So while she does a bang-up job as a single mom, her emotional wounds have not completely healed.

“Dexter gives Rita courage and strength,” Benz says. “Her newfound confidence allows her to confront her ex-husband and be honest with him in a way she’s never been able to be before. I used to think, in the very beginning, that there was a hidden apology (on her part) for everything Rita did, but towards the end of the season, that was gone.”

Though it’s mixed in between the bloodless bodies, Benz says Dexter and Rita’s relationship is the beating heart at the center of the series.

“Rita brings warmth to the show,” Benz says. “She represents the human emotions inside of Dexter.”

The former “Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actress had to test for the role twice, not that Benz minded the audition process.

“I loved the script,” she says. “It was a brilliant mix of dark, edgy humor. I’d been wanting to work with Showtime for a while because their programming is so provocative. They don’t have to answer to advertisers, so you can really push the envelope and delve deeper into the characters and bring more realism to their lives. From the beginning, I knew it’d be a killer show.”

We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves.

Favorite scene: “I loved the scene where I dressed up as Lara Croft and surprised Dexter by being sexually aggressive for the first time. There’s something awkward and romantic and playful about it.”

Where you’d like to see your character go next season: “Hopefully, her relationship with Dexter will evolve into something deeper. I’m a romantic, so I’d like them to fall in love and have kids, but that probably won’t happen. Hopefully she doesn’t wind up dead.”

TV guilty pleasure: ” ‘What Not to Wear,’ and the other show I’m addicted to is ‘Moving Up,’ a show about real estate.”

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