Julie Benz

Dexter's Julie Benz stars on one of the most violent dramas on TV but the blood usually comes only at the hands of her on-screen husband, Dexter Morgan. In her new film, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, Benz finds herself right in the middle of the action.

"I actually got to play with guns!" Benz says.

Although Benz had never seen the original 1999 film, she immediately gravitated toward the part of southern belle FBI agent Eunice Bloom. "[Writer-director] Troy Duffy wrote this really amazing woman," Benz says. "She's not a victim or a love interest; she's like a guy but still a woman. That's what I really loved about her."

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In theaters Friday, The Boondock Saints II reunites most of the original film's cast and crew, with the exception of Willem Dafoe as FBI agent Paul Smecker. Enter Dexter's leading lady. "I had some big shoes to fill with Willem Dafoe," she says. "Eunice is a protégé of [Smecker's], so I wanted to maybe steal a couple of things he does here and there."

Benz, 37, enjoyed playing a role so different from her TV persona but that doesn't mean Rita will be leaving Miami anytime soon. If anything, Benz says her film roles between the show's 12-episode seasons have helped her breathe new life into Rita.

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"When you play a character as long as I have played Rita, she starts to live in you. The character's memories are your memories and she's kind of just there," Benz says. "So then to go off and play other characters; it's nice to stretch other muscles and try new things."

As for her alter ego, Benz says Rita and Dexter will begin trying new things as they begin to deal with their marital problems, and particularly Rita's recent discovery of Dexter's apartment.

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"You're going to see them go to therapy and really start dealing with their issues. They have their issues and Rita is not completely innocent," Benz says. "Rita suffers from wanting Dexter to change a little bit ... she has faults and we get to see a little bit more of what those are throughout the season."

Another plot twist that will affect Dexter, and subsequently Rita's, struggle to balance work and family? Dexter's recent revelation that the Trinity Killer is a family man just like himself. "We get to see more of Dexter's fascination with that and how does he pull it off," Benz says. "There are some big realizations that happen throughout that journey."

Benz was tight-lipped on what those realizations might be but says the journey will lead to a shocking season finale."It's going to be a very monumental episode and it shocked us as a cast when we got the script," Benz says. "It changes the show at its core and it's insanely intense."