Living Life off the Ricochet
by Jay S. Jacobs
Julie Benz has made a career as part of mysterious, dark, brooding TV drama, so it’s not a huge surprise that her latest role – that of the wife of a southern judge involved in a murder in the TNT adaptation of Sandra Brown’s best selling crime novel Ricochet – is something of an inscrutable femme fatale.
Benz has some experience with inscrutable – and with fatale – in a career that has included playing a vampire on Buffy the Vampire and Angel, the wife of a serial killer in Dexter and a mother and scientist who mysteriously gains super powers during a plane crash in No Ordinary Family. She is currently playing the sister of the title character in A Perfect Man.
Her new TV movie Ricochet is part of TNT’s new Mystery Movie Night, a series of beloved recent mystery novels which are being turned into weekly two-hour films. Ricochet co-stars John Corbett as a cop with his eye on a possibly corrupt judge (Gary Cole) and his gorgeous younger wife (Benz).
About a week before the movie was to air, Benz was nice enough to sit down with us and a few other websites and talk about the film.
Were you familiar with Sandra Brown’s novel prior to working with the film?
I was familiar with Sandra Brown. I had read Ricochet a long time ago and really enjoyed it. I’m an avid reader and I love her books.
The character of Elise is a little mysterious, a little bit of a troublemaker. What did you like most about playing her? And how did you prepare for the role?
What I loved was how for me what the challenge of playing Elise was how close she keeps everything inside. You don’t know if she’s good or bad and you’re never sure exactly what she’s thinking. That was a real challenge for me to play. I had to work really hard on an accent for the movie, as well. That helps me really get into Elise because with that specific type of Southern accent, she moved slower and talked slower than I do. That allowed me to actually be a little more mysterious.
In this movie we don’t really know whether your character is a good girl or a bad girl through most of the movie. Was that difficult to play?
No. I mean it was challenging to play but it wasn’t difficult in the fact that I understood her intentions were pure. The way she got around to doing stuff wasn’t necessarily all that normal. But in her heart, her intentions behind it all were pure. But you had to actually admit too she’s a little crazy for what she did. (laughs)
Since the movie is an adaptation from the book how much will we see compared and contrast with what we get to read?
I think it does an amazing job of adapting the book into the movie. There’s so much information in the book, so you actually get a lot more back-story but the film itself follows the action quite specifically.
You have such a really wonderful online following through Twitter. How has social media been playing into the promotion of projects like Ricochet for you?
It’s always so great. Anytime TNT puts up a new promo for the show I can just Tweet it and everybody goes and looks at it. I love social media. It’s a great way to not just promote the work that you do but also to have direct contact with fans as well as promote any kind of charities that you’re involved in.
With this film what do you think it is that will draw viewers in?
You know, first the story. The story is really compelling in the way that it is shot it’s very much as a film noir. Then of course I mean you have John Corbett and Gary Cole, so what’s not to watch?
You just mentioned Gary Cole. He’s always such a fascinating actor. What was he like to work with?
Oh, he’s a pro, man. First, he’s an ultimate gentlemen and second just a pro. Just watching him craft his character and the choices that he made to play Judge Laird – it’s like being in a master class, watching him work.
Over your career it’s seem to have got in a lot of roles that have to do with crime or killing or punishment. You mentioned that you’re a veracious reader earlier. Are you into that type of fiction or films or stuff like? Or is that just a coincidence that you’re often playing that type of role?
You know, I am. I do love a great mystery. So, yeah, I guess it’s just how it’s panned out. [When] I started in the business I wanted to do romantic comedies and then I was surprised by the fact that I could actually do more than that. (laughs) I’ve always been a fan of especially mystery novels. I’ve read every single one probably out there. I love trying to figure it all out and I love being scared.
Okay now also recently after you spent so much time on series work like Dexter and No Ordinary Family and now A Gifted Man how was it different to just work on a one-off film where just a beginning, middle and end?
Well it’s a little overwhelming at first because we shot it in 18 days. So it’s a pretty fast process, pretty fast filming. So you have to really do a lot of homework before you arrive on set and really do a lot of your character development before you get there. Make choices and do as much research as you can. Rather than when you are in a TV series – they start kind of crafting the role for you. They start writing it in your voice after you’re cast and tailoring it to who you are. So it’s a little different in that aspect. I love doing television because I love being on set everyday with the same people. So it’s sad when you have to say goodbye. I love playing Elise so much.
You had to develop a bit of a Southern accent for this. How important was setting for this movie?
I think it was very important. Elise is a very specific type of Southern woman. She was very specific to Georgia and a lot of that is what makes who she is who she is. Does that make sense? Like where she came from? It was a very important part. Then playing in the heat. Just the heat of it all. We start in New Orleans. It was very hot. Even though it wasn’t Georgia it has a lot of similar qualities. Just playing [in] the constant heat you move slower, you talk slower, you’re sweaty.
Do you have any particular plans for the premiere night?
I plan on watching it. I haven’t seen it yet. So I plan on sitting in front of my TV like everybody else and watching it with my loved ones. And my dogs, of course, will be watching it.
This is a little bit off topic but you just mentioned watching. I was wondering since you’re no longer on Dexter with the new episodes do you ever like watch the shows since you’re not there anymore? And what’s it like? Do you ever think wow I remember that I wish I was still doing that or anything like that?
Oh, you know, I have not had a chance to watch it since my demise. I’ll relate it to being invited to Christmas dinner and then asked to sit outside. It’s bitter sweet. I still support the show. I think it’s a fantastic show and the work on it’s great. But, at the end of the day, they chose to kill Rita off. It’s opened so many doors for me career wise. I don’t live with regrets. So I don’t look backwards I only look forwards.
Sorry about looking a little bit backwards but I was also a huge fan of No Ordinary Family. In fact I spoke with Autumn [Reeser] last year about the show and I was really hoping that would be renewed. But what was that show like? That was very different type of show. Was that fun to do?
Oh that was dream job for me in many ways because not only was I challenged emotionally I got to be challenged physically as well. I’m an exercise fanatic and a workout junkie and I love doing stunts. I love having that kind of physical challenge everyday. It was really the perfect marriage of all the things that I could do as mastering comedy and drama and then also some of the action stuff. It was so much fun to film and I think we were all sad that it did not get to go on for a second season. But we had a really great first season and at the end of the day no one can take that away from us.
You had mentioned earlier that you originally got started expecting to be in romantic comedy. Would you like to do more light or comic type of work?
I don’t know now. I love doing comedic work. I would love to explore more of that but at the same time I’m still used to being challenged in a different level. So I think I would like to play more roles that have all those elements kind of wrapped up in one, if that makes any sense. I think for me that I’ve evolved more into a dramatic actress to my surprise (laughs) and I’m enjoying it.
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Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 28, 2011.