Dollhouse Is Stretching Eliza Dushku's Acting Ability

Eliza Dushku is having the time of her lives, playing Echo, the woman with a million programmable personalities. She talked to reporters about Dollhouse, and we asked her about Joss Whedon's five-year plan. Spoilers!

In Dollhouse, which starts Friday at 9 on Fox, Dushku plays a woman named Echo whose brain has been erased to make way for whatever personality and skills a paying client wants her to have. But Echo is starting to keep some of her memories and recognize her fellow mindwiped puppets, which is considered a "glitch in the system."

Dushku said the show is a metaphor for her own life, where people are constantly expecting her to be different people in different situations. It's also a metaphor for objectification.

Dollhouse Is Stretching Eliza Dushku's Acting Ability

I asked Dushku where she sees her character in four or five years. Does Dushku still think she'll have new places to go with the character in Dollhouse season five? She said absolutely. After all, most people evolve so much in just a single day. People are constantly evolving, so there are plenty of places to with a character like Echo who's able to become different characters and is evolving on her own as well.

She added:

Apparently from day one, Joss has had a five year plan for the show... what's so exciting about this show is, it's so open for endless possibilities, because you're dealing with so much, it's mankind. [Our] thoughts and wishes and desires are there by the millions and the trillions.

In Dollhouse, Dushku's character has an active named Boyd Langton, who's supposed to keep her safe during her "engagements" with paying clients. But Dushku says "it's obviously not a perfect system," and things do tend to go wrong during her gigs.

Dollhouse Is Stretching Eliza Dushku's Acting Ability


Playing Echo has allowed Dushku to "play and jump around in between these characters, every week and sometimes multiple times in one show." She says she has an "appetite" to experience different emotions, and Josh has given her "the ability to show different colors." Her favorite characters, so far, have included a blind cult member (who's sent inside a cult with cameras in her retinas.) And a "prissy" 50-year-old woman who's put into Dushku's body.

She's also enjoyed getting to play some scenes opposite Tahmoh Penikett, who plays FBI agent Paul Ballard, who's investigating the Dollhouse.

Dollhouse Is Stretching Eliza Dushku's Acting Ability

The show only gets better as it goes along, says Dushku, because Joss Whedon and his writers are like a novelist, building the story as they go along. In future installments, you'll learn more about the history of the Dollhouse, including how long it's been around and what happened to past "Dolls."

Dollhouse is Dushku's first time as an executive producer of a show, in addition to starring. It sounds like she's pretty active in the writers' room, helping to break stories. And she says she's also involved in day-to-day stuff like morale on the set and making sure the crew's voices are heard. She's been way more hands-on than with anything else she's worked on, but luckily everybody involved with it wants it to succeed as badly as she and Joss do.

In some episodes, you'll find that clients who hire Dushku's character, Echo, customize her in ways that they may end up regretting. Sometimes what people think they desire isn't what they really desire, but they don't find out until it's too late, says Dushku.

Dushku says she's aware she has a big lesbian fan following from her days on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, with its subtext-rich Buffy-Faith frenemy relationship. Dollhouse almost had a gay-themed episode, but that script didn't make it into the first 13 episodes. "I'm already thinking up ideas for the next 13 episodes," she added. "I'm dying to get back to the writers' room and tell more stories."

Images from Los Angeles Times (more at the link.)