Last Sunday, Julie Benz made her debut on the ABC drama Desperate Housewives as Robin — a “stripper with a heart of gold” — but it was also revealed of her character that she is also a lesbian. In a new interview with the blog After Ellen, Benz talks about her sexy new role on DH and what her arrival on the show means for Dana Delany‘s character … as they spark up a new same-sex romance. Here are excerpts from Julie‘s After Ellen interview:
Julie Benz has an eclectic resume, but most AfterEllen.com readers know her as Darla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel or, most recently, as Rita on Dexter. Her latest role, as of last week’s episode of Desperate Housewives is as a stripper named Robin who befriends Susan (Teri Hatcher) before quitting her job and moving in with her. We found out this week that Benz’s character is a lesbian who will fall for Katherine Mayfair (played by Dana Delaney). As of now, Benz isn’t sure how much longer Robin will be around Wisteria Lane, but she’s hoping it’ll be for more than just one kiss.
AfterEllen.com: How did you get the gig on Desperate Housewives? Have you always liked the show?
Julie Benz: I’ve always been a huge fan of the show — I’ve seen every episode. Pretty much the way this went down was, literally the day after the Dexter season finale aired, I got a phone call asking if this was something I’d be interested in doing, and I was like “Sure! Of course!” And it was funny because my manager was like, “You’re going to be playing a stripper.” And I said, “OK!” And he said, “And you’ll be a lesbian.” “OK!” He was like “OK!” To me, it’s like, how different from Rita on Dexter! And what a fun way to come on to a show. I think people were expecting my character to break up somebody’s marriage, and here I’ll have this great romance with one of the women on the show. That interested me as well.
AE: So is Robin a lesbian? Is that how she would identify herself?
AE: What about Katherine? Is that going to be something difficult for her as a straight woman to think of herself as bisexual? Is she confused?
JB: I don’t know a whole lot about the storyline, but from what I do know, it is going to be a part of Katherine’s journey to figure out. “What is this?” Katherine has had quite a history of dating men that haven’t turned out to be very good for her. I think the question you have to ask yourself in real life is, if you connect with somebody, why let gender, religion or race get in the way. I think that’s the struggle, the challenge that she has.
AE: How do you feel about playing a lesbian? You haven’t played one before, have you?
JB: No, I haven’t. You know, I would say Darla on Angel was pretty much asexual. I didn’t have any love scenes or anything but there was some insinuations of stuff between Darla and Willow.
AE: I’m sure some Angel fans could definitely read into the subtext.
JB: For me, it’s an interesting character. Robin is just a really wonderful spirit. It just so happens she’s a lesbian. She’s a really wonderful spirit. She’s got a good soul and a good heart and that’s what they said to me about the character. And she’s not going to come in and wreck someone’s marriage on the show. It’s been done before.
AE: Desperate Housewives has previously had a lesbian kiss and people thought it was a ratings stunt. Do you think this will be different because there will be a relationship developing out of it?
JB: Yeah it is different because there is a relationship developing out of it.
AE: Well that’s good to hear, especially for you because you don’t know how long you’ll be on the show for.
JB: Yeah, I don’t know. I hope it lasts forever! It’s a great place to go to work. I’ve admired the work on the show for so long. I’m a huge fan and it’s been great. I love the actresses and they’re ones who’ve inspired me in my own work. To be able to go to work everyday and work with these women, it’s amazing. I would love it to last forever. I think it’s a great story, too. Katherine’s journey is very interesting and it’s current in what we’ve seen with recent years with older women discovering that they’re gay later in life. Like with Meredith Baxter recently — coming out publicly. It’s a very current topic. It’s an interesting thing to explore.
Man, I think I need to start watching Desperate Housewives. I love that Julie is so gung-ho about this role. I’m so happy she mentioned her work on Angel because I think she played the character of Darla very well, very omnisexual. It wasn’t so much that Darla didn’t have a single sexual side, it’s that she had many sexual sides. I sincerely hope that Julie‘s stint on DH turns out to be something more substantial and not gimmicky. She is an amazing actress … I love to see her bring some that Sapphic sexiness to Wisteria Lane in a real way.