Welcome to the Dollhouse
BY Harrison Pierce
March 06 2009 1:00 AM ET
Actress Eliza Dushku
began her career working opposite acting heavyweight Robert De
This Boy's Life
and heavyweight action star Arnold Schwarzenegger in
Since then she's built an impressive (and seriously fit) body
of work playing some badass chicks with an irresistible
combination of Schwarzenegger-ian physicality and De Niro-ian
thoughtfulness. Among her better-known tough-girl turns are
reluctant cheerleader Missy in gay favorite
Bring It On
and vampire slayer Faith in Joss Whedon's beloved series
Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
reteamed with Whedon for the entertaining and provocative new
in which she plays Echo, a young woman working as an operative
for a mysterious outfit known as the Dollhouse. In each episode
Echo is imprinted with a different personality and skill set to
match the requirements of the agency's high-paying clients.
It's a clever scenario with obvious parallels to the acting
world Dushku's inhabited since the age of 10, and it's
a kick watching her strut her stuff each week as anyone from a
human hunting target to a backup singer for a
Beyoncé-like pop star. In addition, the actress has
assumed a new kind of persona behind the scenes: She's
coproducing the show with Whedon.
had the chance to chat with this self-proclaimed "worker
bee" about her dual role as actress and producer on
the politics of her former costar turned Governator Arnold
Schwarzenegger, and her take on whether
Bring It On
's Missy did, perhaps, speak a little "dykeadelic."
Advocate.com:So, Eliza, what's been your favorite Echo imprint to play
thus far?Eliza Dushku:
Oh, my gosh, I think we've done 38 of them in these first 13
episodes. There have been so many! Episode 6 is a particularly
exciting one, in which I get to make contact with [actor]
Tahmoh Penikett's character, Agent Paul Ballard. The imprint
they send me to meet him in is this fierce, hyperintelligent
assassin. There's also an episode on the complete opposite side
of the spectrum where I play this blind cultist that's sent
into a Waco-style compound -- they imprint cameras into my
eyeballs and send me in as a blind woman. The character is such
a pure, true believer in this cult, and the role is so far from
anything I've ever played.
What's harder to play: Echo imprinted or Echo as a blank
Obviously, when you play an imprint, it already has all these
feelings and choices and memories, so you know what you're
doing -- even if some can be more challenging than others. But
it's absolutely been difficult creating Echo, who starts out as
this sort of 6-year-old -- this young woman in a childlike,
optimistic blank state. But the coolest part is, from episode 2
on, Echo's self-awareness is, like, slowly and in little
pieces, coming out. She's actually pretty complicated and
pretty fascinating and pretty badass.
Think she'll ever inhabit a gay persona?
Absolutely. We had one script that didn't quite make it this
round -- it wasn't quite what Fox wanted for the first six
episodes. It wasn't the issue itself that was the problem --
the script just didn't quite fit. But if you know Josh and my
own feelings on this issue -- it's part of our society, our
culture, our lives, and it's so relevant, so we hope to tell
that story in the next thirteen.