The signature red hair of Grayson Hall's classic series character is exagerrated in this version by use of a bright primary red hair color, along with heightened use of mascara and other makeup. Partially reflecting the film's 1972 setting, the character dresses in similarly bright-colored "mod" prints for much of the film. Unlike prior depictions of the character, this version of Julia Hoffman is presented as a late-sleeping, pill-popping chronic drinker and probable alcoholic. She complains of symptoms of a hangover and is often shown with an adult beverage in her hands.
When introduced to Julia for the first time during the film, Johnny Depp's Barnabas, newly wakened from his coffin confinement of nearly two centuries, marvels at the fact of a woman doctor, one of many modern phenomena to which he is being newly exposed. She, in turn, demands to know of Barnabas (who is much less human in appearance and much less reticent about his true nature than in the classic series), "Who the hell is this? Is he for real?"
Unlike the methods of deduction used in the original series, the 2012 film version of Dr. Hoffman uses hypnosis to quickly uncover the fact of Barnabas' vampiric nature. After initially reacting with panic and anger at the danger he might pose, she is persuaded by Elizabeth Collins Stoddard to keep her discovery secret and approach Barnabas' plight with scientific "fascination."
As in the original series, Dr. Hoffman initially undertakes to free Barnabas from Angelique's curse with a series of blood transfusions. Her "fascination" also leads to what she describes to Barnabas as a demonstration of "doctor-patient confidentiality" during one of his visits to her Collinwood-based laboratory, in which an act of oral sex on the vampire is implied.
After discovering Julia is secretly using his vampiric blood to attempt to secure immortal youth for herself rather than in fact trying to cure him, Barnabas angrily attacks and drains her of blood, during which assault she is shown to have incipient signs of vampiric incisors.
Julia's limp body is wrapped in a weighted canvas and dumped by Barnabas and Willie Loomis into the Atlantic waters off Collinsport, her bright red hair shown vividly sinking into the green depths and presumably concluding her role in the film.
However, in the movie's final moments, the camera cuts away from the climactic embrace of Barnabas and Vicky/Josette at the wave-engulfed base of Widow's Hill and sweeps out over and into the Atlantic waters, where Julia is shown engulfed in a school of fish and opens her eyes, flashing vampiric teeth in the final image before the credits roll.
Matthew Hall , son of the original Julia, Grayson Hall, and also one of the writers on the 1991 revival series, has observed in blog comments (http://msbhall.wordpress.com) on the film that the movie "conflates [original series] Julia’s knowledge of Barnabas’ vampirism with the Elizabeth Collins Stoddard role," making Elizabeth the staunch ally to Barnabas that Julia had been in the original series and perhaps making the film's Julia more expendable as one of Barnabas' victims. He goes on to say that while he enjoyed Tim Burton’s movie, Burton "does trash Julia into near-unrecognizability. (My mother, short and fat and drinking anything besides black tea first thing in the morning? Sorry, you must have the wrong Dr. Hoffman.)"