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Julie Benz toughs it out
Posted Under: 'Rambo', Press on January 28, 2008 • Leave a comment? / No Comments

Theatrical tradition says the way to wish an actor good luck is to suggest they “break a leg.” Julie Benz may start a new tradition. In the future, the new saying will be “bruise a rib.”

This painful sounding salute comes out of what happened to Benz during the filming of Rambo 4.

The fourth film in the Sylvester Stallone franchise puts outcast John Rambo back in the role of military savior. His latest mission is to rescue a group of missionaries – that’s where Benz comes in – who have been captured in Burma.

“It was really just a mild stunt,” says the actress. “There was a scene where he (Rambo) was supposed to jump on top of me to protect me. All 200 pounds landed on me.”

Benz laughs at the mention of the close encounters. But it was no laughing matter the day after the stunt. She woke up to a badly bruised body. It took her an hour just to get out of bed. This was not the first time Benz got injured during a shoot. She fell from a horse and wrenched her back during the making of the 2004 television movie The Long Shot.

Stallone, who directed Rambo 4, inspired her.

“I was impressed with the performances he got out of people. I wanted to give that kind of performance. He is tough. He will call you out and say `You call that acting?’ He would be completely right. He also would call himself out,” Benz says.

Stallone raised the acting bar for her. She wanted to give the same 150 percent that Stallone was giving. That meant ending each day exhausted, and at times bruised.

Hers wasn’t the only medical emergency during the shoot in Thailand. Several people got food poisoning. There were numerous injuries. And then there were all the creatures.

“There were bugs bigger than birds,” Benz says with a nervous laugh. “Sometimes we would be so far out on location that we would have to use portable potties. You could hear people screaming because of the bugs the whole time.”

Benz knew there was a chance of injury by being part of an action movie. The one thing she has never shied away from during her career are jobs that are physically challenging. That goes back to her youth growing up in Pennsylvania. Benz was a competitive ice skater until she was 14.

Since making the switch to acting, she has appeared in a variety of roles, including the action-junkie Darla in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel television series.

“I have always had a high threshold for pain. That was why I did Rambo 4. I felt like I could hold my own in a Rambo 4 movie. I am not wimpy or like to be pampered. I can work in tough elements. I can work though the pain,” Benz says.

So Benz became part of a franchise that launched in 1982 with First Blood, when Benz was only 10.

It isn’t just physically challenging roles that appeal to Benz. She is currently starring in the Showtime series Dexter. Her emotionally scarred character is dating the serial killer played by Michael C. Hall. That series will air on CBS starting in February.

Benz ended the Rambo 4 filming with more than bruised ribs. She came away with a new knowledge of the genocide going on in Burma. She now is involved with the charity group U.S. Campaign for Burma.

– Copyright (C) 2008 MCT Information Services

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