GeekDad Interviews Julia Benson of Stargate: Universe

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Photo: Karolina Turek

GeekDad recently had a chance to ask a few questions to the lovely Julia Benson from Stargate: Universe. In case you haven’t heard already, she has just been cast as the female lead in Earth’s Final Hours, to be directed by David Hogan for Syfy. The movie also stars Robert Knepper (Prison Break). Julia’s character is Chloe Edwards, a no-nonsense professional who works with the Science Division of the Defense Administration and is assigned to investigate a baffling anomaly.Currently however, she plays her popular role as 2nd Lt. Vanessa James on the fan-favorite sci-fi series SGU: Stargate Universe.

GeekDad: Has Earth’s Final Hour or any other projects take you away from Stargate Universe? Could there be a grim “destiny” in store for Lt. James?

Julia Benson: Grim destiny for James, I hope not! But you’ll have to watch and see! I was very lucky with the timing of Earth’s Final Hours. It started shooting the day after our hiatus started. (We take a month off in the summer.) So there were no conflicts at all! It can definitely be hard to work on other shows while filming SGU as; you never know how many days you’re going to be working in each episode.

GD: Has anything changed for you since you started Stargate: Universe?

JB: Stability! Stargate has been a great experience for me, it’s nice to come to a job that you love all the time. Having some sense of stability as an actor is a good thing! It has definitely opened me up to the sci-fi genre and helped me generate some buzz, so I am grateful for that.

GD: Have you been to any of the Sci Fi Conventions? Do you plan on making the rounds to conventions from now on?

JB: I have yet to go to a convention. I have been invited to a few but unfortunately the timing just hasn’t worked out. I definitely want to go to conventions as I am really looking forward to meeting some of our fans!

GD: Would you mind if you started getting type-cast for sci-fi movies and TV?

JB: I love working as an actor but I don’t want to be limited to one genre. It’s important for me to always be challenged with new material. I always want to play the opposite of what I just played. That being said, I have loved being a part of this world and am definitely into working in this genre again!

GD: You seem to play a very strong part in SGU, would you ever want to play the damsel in distress?

JB: It’s funny, I often play strong women but I have a ton of fun playing softer characters. I don’t know if damsel in distress is up my alley I am more drawn to quirky characters in comedies.

GD: You’ve become associated with a very popular science fiction series. SF fans are known both for their loyalty and scrutiny. What’s it like to work with the eye of fandom upon you?

JB: I am honored to be a part of a show and a genre that have such loyal fans. They are the reason we’re on the air!! As far as the scrutiny goes I give it very little attention. You have to develop a thick skin to be in this business and take everything, compliments and criticism, with a grain of salt. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and not every show is for everyone. The important thing to me is to believe in what I am doing in life. I am very proud to be a part of SGU.

GD: Do you get recognized or stopped by fans on the street? Any interesting stories there?

JB: A few times I have been stopped in Vancouver. People who do recognize me from the show usually stare and then it takes them a minute to place me. I usually have my hair down and I look a lot different in street clothes. To be honest, my husband Peter has done a ton of commercials and he usually gets recognized a lot more than I do! Lol

GD: Are you new to the SF genre?

JB: Being a Vancouver actor, I had auditioned many times for both SG1 and Atlantis. I ended up doing an episode of SGA called “Irresistible” with Richard Kind. I had a great time, Richard Kind was hilarious and the cast of SGA was great! I have also done an episode of Supernatural and Smallville.

GD: Are you a fan of any SF movies, books or other properties?

JB: Firefly and Fringe are 2 shows in the sci-fi genre that I love. I am watching Fringe on DVD right now and season 2 is fantastic. The actors are so good and I am hooked!

GD: How did you prepare?

JB: I auditioned for a few characters on SGU before I read anything about Vanessa James. Riley (Haig Sutherland) and Andrea Palmer (Christina Schild) were the two parts that the producers were apparently considering me for and then I read one page of sides for 2nd Lt. Vanessa James and I knew that I had found the role I wanted! The audition was pretty quick and a week or so later, I was cast. When I got the role, it was really important to me to study as much about the military as I could. I started kickboxing to toughen up physically and kept reading anything I could get my hands on! We also had a few days of training with our military advisor at the time Ron Blecker, he was very open with us and helped me get into the mindset of someone in my position. We have people on set to advise us when we have big military scenes so they make sure that we are as accurate in our portrayal as possible!

GD: We know whom Lt. James would side with on Destiny, but who would Julia Benson side with: Young or Rush? Why?

JB: Good question! I would have to say Young. As much as he is flawed, you know where he is coming from. I don’t think I could ever trust Rush, I don’t trust people that don’t have anyone close to them. Young has been trained to protect the greater good and for me he is more of an open book than Rush.

GD: If Lt. James became in control of Destiny how would she lead? Would she send Chloe out of an airlock first?

JB: [laughing] Of course James would never throw Chloe out of an airlock, Scott maybe but Chloe no! Just kidding, James is a bigger person than that. How would she lead? Well, James is someone who steps up whenever she is given the opportunity. She will rise to the occasion. She would trust her people and continue to keep a close watch on Rush.

GD: Does everyone on the set get along? Do the veteran actors separate from the rising stars?

JB: Everyone gets along incredibly well on set and off! We often hang out together, whether someone is throwing a party, playing poker or just having a few drinks. The cast all really enjoys each other’s company. The veteran actors are part of the gang. There is no separation there. It’s great though to have the opportunity to watch people like Robert Carlyle and Lou Diamond Phillips work. They are absolute professionals and love what they do. It’s inspiring to see their constant dedication to the show and incredible chops as actors!

Thanks to Julia Benson for taking the time to answer a few questions for GeekDad! Stargate Universe airs Tuesday nights on the SyFy Channel and look for Earth’s Final Hours on Syfy sometime in 2011.

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