Living doll

Eliza Dushku talks about her new action-adventure show, Dollhouse

Interview, The Knowledge

In 1998, Eliza Dushku shot to fame as Faith, the rogue monster hunter in kitschy horror series Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But it wasn’t until this year that she returned to TV in Dollhouse, an action-adventure show created by Buffy’s Joss Whedon. The show stars Dushku as Echo, a troubled woman who’s so desperate to escape her mysterious past that she allows herself to become the property of a morally shady corporation. They then use experimental technology to implant her with false personalities, hiring her out to work as a bodyguard, a secret agent or even an escort. The show was met with largely poor reviews over the course of its first six episodes but after a midseason retooling it began to cultivate a much more favourable response, and fan support recently got the series renewed. Here’s what Duskhu had to say about it all.

Explain the concept of Dollhouse.

The heart of it is this young woman who’s trying to become self-aware and who’s been objectified in every sense. They’re trying to erase her memory and trying to turn her into different people, but [her true personaliy] is coming through.

Just how different are Echo and your character Faith from Buffy The Vampire Slayer?
It depends on who Echo is imprinted to be, because Echo could be Faith. On steroids.

Can you reveal a bit about how the show was born?
Joss and I had a four-hour lunch where we talked about a deal I had made [to work] over at [the Fox TV network, home of Whedon’s previous shows], possibly, if we found the right fit. The only person I had in mind was Joss. I’ve admired him since we worked together on Buffy, and he’s just been such a close friend and advocate. So he and I sat down and within four hours we had a show. And within the next week and a half, we’d pitched it to Fox and decided this was a reality…

Given that you were one of the creators of the show, can we assume that you’ve had quite a lot of say in the development of your character, Echo?
It was sort of written for me, in a way. He felt that every other role that I had done since Buffy was very [similar, that] there were only a few colours that I was playing and that it was always the bad girl, the sexy girl, the tough girl. He felt that, through knowing me as a friend, he had seen different colours and sides of me and he wanted to bring those out.

How well does it suit you to play a character with such different roles every episode?
Well, Joss and I came up with the show together and we were talking about what kind of show would suit me right now in my career and in my life. Basically, Joss and I have had a 10-plus-year friendship at this point and he knows how hard it is for me to sit still for five minutes – not to mention for an entire episode – so the premise of the show was sort of based on my own life. It’s about keeping things moving, about keeping me active and giving me the chance to play different characters every week, and sometimes several times a show.

What is Dollhouse’s message?
I mean, without simplifying it too much I’d say it’s not about the search for one’s true identity but about identifying what makes us who we are, and our thoughts and our surroundings.

The series has been renewed for a second season – how do you feel?
It was just monumental. The fans of the show are so loyal and so incredible. We have a whole pot of gratitude right now.
Dollhouse runs on America Plus, Wednesdays, 9pm.

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