INTERVIEW Eliza Dushku on Dollhouse

If you thought all of our Eliza Dushku interview was in the SFX Worlds Of Whedon special, think again! Here’s some more, to celebrate the fact that Dollhouse season two is out on DVD and Blu-ray today

When our Jordan had a chat with Buffy and Dollhouse’s Eliza Dushku recently, he ended up with far too much than could fit in our Worlds Of Whedon special edition. So, with the DVD and Blu-ray of Dollhouse season two released today, what better excuse to bring you some more from that interview? Enjoy!

SFX: Dollhouse was a virtually a show built around you, for you by Joss Whedon. Did that create extra pressure?

Eliza Dushku: “Sure there was pressure but it was also a tremendous opportunity. I’ve always been the kind of person that jumped in with both feet and I embrace a challenge, I embrace pressure. I work fairly well under pressure and I knew that I had such confidence in the man that I was jumping into this thing with that it alleviated a lot of it. We were also clear that we weren’t setting out to try and prove anything. Of course it would have been incredible if we would have a had a hit show, but we had stories to tell and so we set out to tell them with vigour and pride and humility. We felt like, ‘ If the mainstream catches on great!’

“We felt like the pressure started to come in after we got our Friday night death slot. I think the studio got scared about the show we were making. We’ve said this before: it seemed like the studio and us weren’t seeing the same… You know, it’s very political so I try to be as diplomatic as possible, but the show they thought we were making wasn’t the show we thought we were making, so I think when they got apprehensive. I mean, the day we announced it, before we even had one script, the internet and all the fans had gone crazy, so it was like all the spotlights were on us so right from the start, and we really felt the pressure once we could feel the studio pulling back. Then it became, ‘We need to fight this battle and get out there,’ you know?”

How was the idea behind Dollhouse developed?

“The show was loosely based on my own situation, where I am and have been in my career, the last few years; that feeling as an actress and as a young woman of who does society, who does media, who do my family and friends want me to be on a given day, versus who my authentic core true self is. Again, that’s a universal struggle and it was also something that – as my friend –  Joss saw in me. It formed the premise and foundation of the show and as we got into the second year, and Echo started to remember and her authentic self started to come through, the empowerment and the anger started to come in and the determination to make things right and to expose the big bad and find herself. She had a line, ‘We’re lost but we’re not gone.’ I think that by the second season – as she became empowered with ammunition and had access to all these personalities – there was less ‘I like broccoli’ Echo and more ‘I’m gonna kill some bad people,’ Echo. Really f**k ’em up. That was definitely a change in the second season and it felt really good to play that.”

Was it frustrating or liberating during season one when you were playing different characters every week?

“I love Joss, he gave me exactly what I asked for! I told him I didn’t want to dress up in the same wardrobe every day and play the same character day in and day out and he did just that. He gave me my own personality playground. And sometimes multiple characters in one episode. I did, I loved that. One thing that you don’t think about beforehand is the challenge given the rigorous schedule of a TV show; at times it would have been nice to have more time to work on a specific character or a specific role but you don’t realise that on a pick-up shot day – when you’re doing pick-up shots from seven different episodes – you’re literally changing from one character to another about seven times. You completely feel schizophrenic, but talk about adrenaline and just exciting and different than anything I’ve ever done. I loved it, I loved the transformation and exploring all those different sides of me, all of it.”

What’s special about a Whedon set?

“I’d say morale. There’s incredible team morale. You have a group of people who get it. He chooses people that share a vision for the show and their own individual roles as he does. So when we set out to do this we put it on the table – we are only going to bring people into this show that are not only incredible actors but are going to, you know there are no divas allowed on this set, including me, we’re not calling this show Echo, we’re calling the show Dollhouse. There’s definitely no, margin for diva behaviour and antics and it’s fun. There’s a lot of brain food on a Whedon set and thought provoking conversations.”

What would your life be like without Joss Whedon?

“I don’t think my life will ever be without Joss Whedon. He really is a dear man and a dear friend and I’m really proud to call him a friend and I feel like he will be there at any point. If I ever picked up the phone I know I have utter faith that he’s my homie and so I just admire him. I’m always thrilled when he’s doing new things and he’s happy in the things he’s doing. Also with Dollhouse he had the opportunity to bring his family in; you know Jed, his brother, and his wife, Maurissa. I just tweeted about Jed’s new album and it does really feel like a family affair. We’re all rooting for each other no matter what and that’s something that’s really rare and really beautiful to find. I also know that Joss and I will be dance partners for life because I’ve taken that guy to a few nightclubs. He is one of the only people who can dance six hours straight with me.”