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Why Sarah From Rambo Looks So Familiar

There would be no "Rambo" (2008) without her: Sarah is the one who convinces the jaded veteran Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) to take her church group up the river into Burma to provide medical aid to people in desperate need. With her kindness and determination, she drags him back into the action and tries to get Rambo, a man of few words and fewer emotions, to open up.

As the only woman of the group, though, she's quickly flung into danger: Pirates want her and then the military take her and the other missionaries prisoner. Of course, she's already made an impression on Rambo by now, so he comes back to rescue her, giving the movie its plot. Sarah is the bravest among her colleagues and the hopeful center of the film — a necessity amidst the movie's graphic violence and all-around depressing mood. If she and her long blonde hair look familiar, that's because she's played by Julie Benz. Here's where you've seen here before.

She bared her vampire teeth in Buffy and Angel

Julie Benz has the unique ability to say she was the very first vampire to appear in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." She plays Darla, the 400-year-old vampire who sired Angel (David Boreanaz) — they used to date, like, a long time ago — and who masquerades as a scared school girl in the show's first scene before revealing her fangs. Originally, Darla wasn't meant to survive past Episode 1, but after the series got picked up, they reshot the pilot and let her live. She still dies in Season 1, but gets resurrected in the spin-off, "Angel."

"Darla was epic! What a wonderful gift I was given to play her," Benz told Premium Beat. "I had just graduated NYU with a BFA in acting, but I didn't really learn to act until I was on set playing Darla." As the show's first vampire, Benz was the guinea pig for the unique vampire makeup: They tried different versions on her before settling on the scrunchy-faced final look. While the prosthetic was a pain to get on and off, it ended up being a boon to Benz's acting: "I just started adding a little bit of glee and joy into everything she did and just relied on the fact that the prosthetic does the work. And then I didn't have to be scary," Benz told AV Club. "I just had to smile and show off Darla's really great dental work."

While Benz first wanted to work mostly in comedies, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" got her into doing genre. "I discovered that doing genre work is actually more interesting as an actor, because the given circumstances are more extreme. And it really is creatively more challenging," she said. Plus, she loves how passionate fans are.

Dexter fell in love with her

When it came to Julie Benz's "Dexter" audition, she really wanted the role of Deb, Dexter's (Michael C. Hall) detective sister. Instead, they cast her as Rita, his love interest who's recovering from an abusive marriage and is a mother of two. At first, Benz felt like playing Rita was too easy, which is why she gravitated toward the challenge of Deb. However, the simplicity of embodying Rita's character belied Benz's connection to her: "I understood her on such an organic level—she just existed in me—that it just made sense," she told AV Club.

"I loved Rita. Season one Rita was my favorite. She was a fragile bird with a broken wing, but she still believed in love and in the good of others," Benz told Premium Beat. "At her core, Rita was pure light, pure love. She was innocent and the vehicle that allowed the audience to fall in love with Dexter."

Now, though, the Rita moment that fans remember best is her tragic death in the Season 4 finale. Dexter finds her in the bathtub, filled with her blood, with their baby son crying on the floor: she was the last victim of the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow), whom he'd murdered just a few scenes before. Benz was shocked by Rita's death: "But my biggest fear in the moment was that the audience wasn't going to care, and if the audience didn't care, then what does that say about Rita?" she told AV Club. However, the scene packed a punch and remains one of the most iconic moments of the series. "I carry that moment with pride, that Rita had such an impact and that it was such a gut-wrenching moment for audience members," she said.

She whisked Katherine away from Wisteria Lane

Julie Benz comes into Season 6 of "Desperate Housewives" like a whirlwind: She plays Robin Gallagher, a sweet, lesbian stripper at the club that Susan (Teri Hatcher) receives shares of after her ex-husband dies. When Susan sees her reading "Moby Dick" and learns that Robin wanted to be a teacher, she encourages her to go after the life she wants. Well, Robin takes that advice and quits her job, landing herself on Wisteria Lane when Susan takes her in.

Unfortunately, in "Lovely," Robin's mere existence causes drama among the cast: All the men get creepily interested in her, Lynette's teenage son tries to pay her for sex, her story gets Gaby's niece to break up with her boyfriend, and Susan gets jealous when Robin fixes Mike's back. It's not all bad, though, she moves in with Katherine (Dana Delany) and the two bond over their troubles, which soon turns into them secretly sleeping together. By the end of Robin's five episodes, she and Katherine are running away to Paris together.

In an interview with Premium Beat, Benz said, "The through-line of the characters I play is more about real women, flaws and all — from Darla to Rita to Robin to Holly ["Training Day"], they are all survivors." Among these roles, Sarah from "Rambo" fits right in.