Eliza Dushku can be anything they want her to be
Eliza Dushku was discovered at the end of a five-month search throughout the United States for the perfect girl to play the lead role of Alice opposite Juliette Lewis in the film That Night (1992). Since then, she has been in several films and has worked with actors such as Robert De Niro, Ellen Barkin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Reiser, and James Belushi. Born in Boston on December 30, 1980, she has studied the piano, drums, and several types of dance (jazz, tap, and ballet).
No stranger to working in the universes created by Joss Whedon, having appeared in ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and its spin off ‘Angel’, here she talks about her latest TV role of Echo aka Caroline, in ‘Dollhouse’ that ran for two seasons but unfortunately fell victim to the axe well before it’s time.
Dollhouse Season 2 and the Complete Collection are available to own on Blu-ray & DVD from 11 October 2010 courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Can you tell us about your dress? It is very interesting.
You know, I wanted to get dressed up for the international press! Sort of an appreciation for the other places in the world. For the U.S. press I do T-shirt and jeans. But it is Phillip Lim so I gave a little bit of flavor.
It looks like you are really good at — it’s interesting because of the show as well yourself, you could have been in and out of your character. There is almost the actress and the girl and it is almost impossible to recognize you if you are not wearing the makeup and the hair and everything; right?
Do you do that on purpose?
You know, I’ve sort of always — I’ve just sort of always been a mimic and deep down there’s this tomboy in me. There’s the young woman that sort of started discovering hair and makeup and dresses and how to be girlie and feminine and that’s fun. Then I sort of experienced the celebrity element and the red carpet and the glamour and I know how to play that role. Once I sort of pick something up and absorb a few of the details I usually sort of chameleon in and out of different people, yeah.
The character was perfect for you?
Yeah, sort of came from a four-hour lunch with me. Joss went, “You’re a lot of people.” And I think he also noticed that more often than not I was sort of being cast as the leather pants tough girl, you know, really sort of my guard was up and that was where I came from in a way. Coming out of high school I did “Buffy” right away and I was in that tough fiercely protective, I’ll kick anyone’s butt that tries to scrutinize me or tell me who to be or put me in a box. And as I have recovered from high school every year, I’m a little more open about playing different characters and playing vulnerable characters and playing characters that, you know, can be beat down as well as doing the beating.
And which of these characters are you playing on the show are you more comfortable with? And which one are you uncomfortable with?
It depends. It definitely depends. I think absolutely there is a level of trust with Joss and the cast and the crew even that we’ve had with on the show both seasons because I feel comfortable going those places and going to some of the more vulnerable, raw places and when I don’t feel entirely comfortable, it’s — you’re more likely to get the bold, the strong, the resistant person. So when I’m in my comfort zone I can be quite lovely.
So it seems like you have a lot of action scenes.
How do you prepare?
Gusto, baby. I just step up to the line and I hate — I remember in the “Buffy” days I used to watch the fight scenes on TV after we shot them and every time my stunt double was in I thought everyone could notice that it was not me as much as I could. So I wanted to do as much as I could so I didn’t see that wig flipping around. (Laughter.) I wanted to climb in. And also it is so much fun, you know, it’s great stress reliever to just beat the bag out of someone on a Monday morning. And it’s just — it’s physical. You get your endorphins going. I’m a competitive kid. I did grow up with brothers, and so it beats sitting behind a desk or playing sort of the same character every day. It switches it up. How do I prepare? I just show up and I take direction.
The girl on “Dollhouse” does every single scene all the time. Do you think when that show is gone you will look for a “CSI” small part or something like that?
No, I don’t think so.
Do you enjoy that kind of tension?
I enjoy it. I mean, sure there are times where I’m exhausted. There are times where I sort of miss my life and I don’t get to travel as much as I would like or be an aunty to my niece and nephew; I’m busy. But I also am well aware after having been in this business for 18 years that, you know, that you kind of have to strike while the iron is hot and the iron feels pretty hot right now. So work now, rest what I’m dead.
How is the show evolving this year?
The first season we really built up the Dollhouse. We showed a lot of the glitz and the glamour of the engagement. And we showed the motorcycle rides and the dancing and the laughing and the fun. And, of course, with that, with the Dollhouse is fun; there is actually the flip side, which is the pain and the moral dilemmas. And this year when we find Echo she’s absolutely started to absorb things from, from not just the engagement, but things in the Dollhouse and she is remembering things in the past as Caroline. She’s is becoming — I say become — we’re shooting the 10th Episode of the season; now she’s her own character. And everyone around her in turn is also reacting and growing and regressing because of that. And so we’ve really sort of built up the Dollhouse in the first season. And the cracks are starting to show and it is sort of crumbling down in a lot of ways, and we still have these different engagements. I think this week I go into GI Jane combat mode and I infiltrate a big military group. But when I come back to the house the relationship with Fran and with Adele and Harry and with Paul has gotten so much more layered because Echo isn’t just a dumb doll now. Instead of people saying, I like broccoli, she is feeling and expressing and also figuring out who she can trust. She is toying with people and everyone is sort of toying with each other. So the Dollhouse has gotten pretty frightening.
So is there going to be less emphasis on the engagements that she is going out on?
The engagements are still there, but her conduct in or around them is what starts to change. The glitching takes on a whole different level because the glitching is actually, you know, each time everywhere she is going in a way she’s thinking of ways to bring down the Dollhouse which is a problem in itself for the higher-ups.
A lot of shows now especially ones involving Joss Whedon have two lives: There is the show and there is the DVD.
And do you find now that — are you doing stuff within the production of “Dollhouse” that is specifically geared towards DVD or is it all after the fact?
I don’t really know because I feel like we, of course, make the show for the viewers and the fans first and foremost. And I think — I don’t think we’re favoring the DVD with the stuff but I think with all Joss’s shows what is so fascinating about them and what sort of feeds the fan craze is that there are nuances in every show. And there are — you can watch the show three times and pick something up each time you watch it from the characters or from the sets or from, you know, little things that, yes, Joss probably does to get into people or get people thinking and coming, breaking off into big, giant theories about world corruption.
What about the relationship between Echo and FBI agent?
It is not unsexy. It’s pretty… just wait and see. There was a chemistry there and last season he spent the entire season trying to get into the “Dollhouse” now that he is in and he’s Echo’s handler, you have to use your imagination until you see what happens. Thank you. Good to see you. Take care.
DOLLHOUSE: SEASON 2 IS RELEASED ON BLU-RAY AND DVD ON OCTOBER 11