A few months ago, Showtime announced that it would be. bringing Dexter back for another season, over seven years after its original run ended. There are a few things that fans will demand of the reboot, and everyone expects that Jennifer Carpenter will be back, even though her character, Debra Morgan, was killed off in the original series finale. She will probably end up being Dexter’s new Dark Passenger, because the Dexter showrunner has said that he will not undo the first ending.
One character that no one expects back is Rita Bennett, the love-interest of Dexter played by Julie Benz for four seasons. Bennett was killed off the series in the fourth season by John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer in what was — for its time — one of the most shocking deaths in television history. Bennett’s death came before killing off major characters was de rigueur thanks to series like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. It wasn’t just shocking for fans, however. It was also shocking for Julie Benz, who answered “getting killed off Dexter” to Michael Rosenbaum’s question, “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you as an actress?”
“I found out three days before,” she told Rosenbaum on the Inside of You podcast. She got called into the producers’ room and she knew, then, that she was being written out.
“I started having a panic attack, and I called my manager at the time, and I said, ‘Oh my God, I think they’re killing me off.” She said she then called her now husband and also told him that she thought she was about to get killed off, and he said, ‘Maybe they’re giving you a raise,’ which “really broke my heart because you don’t get a raise that way.”
She tried to get in and out and get it over with as quickly as possible, and when she went into their office, even before they fired her, Benz thanked them for a great four years. She tried to get out before she had a panic attack, but they wanted to have a conversation and process her exit because it was upsetting for everyone. To make matters worse, Benz had only been in the office at the time to do some voice-over work for the show but had otherwise just returned from the gym, so she was only wearing a sports bra and leggings.
“All I could think about is that movie where the guy is getting broken up with while he’s naked. Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I don’t have a shirt on, and I’m losing my job. I felt so vulnerable,” she said.
Benz admitted that she “bawled” in the room, even though she didn’t want to. She also hugged everyone, even though she was sweaty. “I was really upset. It was such a great family, and here you are being told, ‘OK, we’re still going to be getting together as a family, but you are on your own.’ It was really hard.”
Benz said it took her a long time — and therapy — to get over her exit, although she did get some words of encouragement from actress Elizabeth Mitchell, who had just been killed off of Lost. She told Benz just to be honest while doing press, and say, “‘Yeah, I got killed off the show. It sucked. For me. I was upset.”
Bennett also admitted on the podcast that she doesn’t have bathtubs in her home (her character was killed off in a bathtub).
Meanwhile, for Benz, it appears as though that family will be getting together again without her, although she has obviously done very well since Dexter, having been cast as a regular in two (now canceled) series (Defiance, Showtime’s On Becoming a God in Central Florida) and a recurring role in Hawaii Five-O, in addition to some other consistent television and movie work.