Eliza Dushku talks “Dollhouse”

When Dollhouse premieres Friday night on FOX, it will mark the resumption of the fruitful relationship between Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku. She was Faith, the tough slayer who gave the heroine fits on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and she reprised the character for a stint on the spinoff, Angel.

While Dushku went on to mainly sexpot roles in not-so-high-profile projects, Whedon always believed she was better than the opportunities she had been given. They had a lunch to discuss what her next step should be, and by the time the check came they had fleshed out the idea for Dollhouse.

Dushku plays Echo, a so-called Active who has no memory of her own life, but is kept at a top-secret facility and programmed with different personalities to suit the whims of the clientele. She can be a lover, a hostage negotiator or even a blind cult leader with cameras implanted into her eyes. While a dogged FBI agent, played by BSG‘s Tahmoh Penikett, is on the trail of the Dollhouse, Echo starts remembering pieces of her own past.

Dushku talked with reporters recently about the new show and what it’s like being someone different every week. For more on Dollhouse, check out our interview with Whedon.

On coming up with the idea with Whedon: “We’re really like-minded people and we were talking about sort of what it’s like for me, Eliza, waking up every day and having to somewhat be a different person every day and we were talking about the Internet and how people can get so much and with just the click of a button find anything that they want or need or desire or think that they want or need or desire and then what actually happens when they get that. We were absolutely talking about sexuality and what’s taboo and objectification and just things that are relevant to us. Four hours later Joss absolutely sort of sprang forward with the idea, with the basis for the show and said, ‘It will be called Dollhouse and it will be basically exactly this. It will be you with the ability to be imprinted to be someone sexy or to be anything or to be objectified every week or multiple times a week and how that affects people. We’re going to stir people up and we’re going to make people uncomfortable because that’s sort of interesting to us.’ Here we are 13 episodes later and we think we’ve done that.”

On the themes explored in Dollhouse: “It’s about sort of identifying what makes us who we are and our thoughts and our surroundings and what happens when you start to allow other people or a big corporation or a mass of people [define that]. I think objectification is a huge theme of the show and just sort of how and why we are authentic individuals and … just what it means to be an individual and to have that toyed with or to have that taken from you and how strong our sense of self is at the end of the day no matter what we’re up against.”

On her favorite role in Dollhouse, so far: “It surprised me, because on the one hand it’s awesome and exhilarating to be the sexy assassin, but at the same time I’ve been surprised time and time again how much I also really enjoy playing … like, I play this blind [cult leader] and it was just so different than any skin I had ever been in and I really, really enjoyed it. It was challenging and yet it was liberating to have the opportunity and to be in the world in these different skins. That was a particularly special episode, as was being the personality of a 50-something-year-old woman in my own body. That was another one that’s coming up that was very interesting. I don’t know if I have a favorite, but they’ve all had their own special nuances and places for me.”

Photo: © 2008 Fox Broadcasting Co. Credit: Miranda Penn Turin/FOX

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