Eliza Dushku Talks The League, a White Collar Return and What Really Matters to Her
She's battled Buffy, brought it on and made us want to play in the weirdest dollhouse ever, so it's no wonder we can't get enough of Eliza Dushku. But for those of you still not hip to the hotness that is Dushku, we're happy to say that she is more than just a pretty face who can kick ass. She's also a funny lady — as proven by tonight's bawdy guest spot on The League (10:30/9:30c, FX) — a budding filmmaker, and a philanthropist. Here, the multi-hyphenate fan fave discusses her latest foray into the funny business of TV and what we can expect from her in the coming year.
TV Guide Magazine: So how did a nice girl like you fall in with The League?
Eliza Dushku: They called, and Rick [Fox, her beau] and I had literally just watched a bunch of episodes we had downloaded. It's always weird how that happens. Something comes on your radar and then the phone rings. We're huge Curb fans, so we were familiar with [executive producers] Jeff and Jackie Schaffer, plus I think everybody knows I'm a huge sports fan. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: What did you think of the episodes you watched?
Dushku: I think the show is so funny. I like the part-improv, part-scripted style, which is not something I've ever really done.
TV Guide Magazine: That had to be a little intimidating.
Dushku: It is! And yet, when you're doing it with people who are so good at it...they show up, have the outline of the scene ready and really deliver. The creators Jeff and Jackie are on set every second helping you with [all this]. So I think I was more intimidated before I got there and realized how much they participate. Then you get to just shoot a bunch of things and have the confidence that they'll pick your best stuff.
TV Guide Magazine: What do they have you doing on this episode?
Dushku: Kevin, who's played by Stephen Rannazzisi, is getting pressure from his wife, Jenny, to be more active and less of a fat ass, as she says. So she sends him to a Krav Maga class, and I play the instructor. He suspects that there is something more than just teaching going on between himself and my character, but he can't tell at first. Is it Krav Maga or is she hitting on him? Then it sort of escalates when he takes this back to his friends to see what they think, then we find out what is really going on at the end.
TV Guide Magazine: Are you trained in Krav Maga?
Dushku: I am not. But I am trained in being physical. I can take a guy down. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: How do you like doing comedy?
Dushku: I love it! Of course, most people are more familiar with me from Buffy and Dollhouse, and more dramatic work. But Bring It On was in there, and I did Jay and Silent Bob with Kevin Smith. And it's always "the grass is greener." When you're doing a drama, you think, "God, I want to do a comedy," and then you do one and want to do something more dramatic. To mix it up and do something like The League is the ultimate.
TV Guide Magazine: Would you consider doing another series?
Dushku: After Dollhouse, I actually shot a comedy pilot over the summer that was from the producers of Two and a Half Men. And this was when it was questionable as to whether that show was going to return, and it was this really, really fun pilot. Then two days before the upfronts, the photos of Chuck Lorre and Ashton Kutcher having lunch together came out and it was like 'ohhhh man!' We thought maybe we'd get picked up, but CBS clearly filled that slot.
TV Guide Magazine: I think your White Collar role earlier this season as the Egyptologist was the first time we saw you as a dressed-up grown up.
Dushku: Yeah, I was a very dressed up in that, wasn't I? Those were my own shoes, I have to admit. I had to bring my own six-inch Prada pumps into the mix. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Any chance we might see you back on the show?
Dushku: They have talked to me about possibly coming back. That was so much fun...and the show is so great because it has that combination of the dramatic and the comedic to it. And I love Matt Bomer. He has been a friend since the Tru Calling days. In fact, I just found a picture of Matt and Zach Galifianakis from back in the day and they both look like babies!
TV Guide Magazine: What is next for you?
Dushku: My brother Nate and I have a production company, and we have been working for eight years on our Robert Mapplethorpe project. And over those eight years, when I was consistently working, it was really hard to get it finished. So we're focusing on that and developing another feature that I will probably act in, which is really exciting to me. It's a dramedy. And we're working on a documentary on Albania — I got my Albanian citizenship this summer — we shot a special that may turn into a series. It's sort of my love letter to Albania. I'm trying to diversify my portfolio, I guess! [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: And those are really diverse.
Dushku: Yeah, I know! I'm also working with my mother's NGO [non-governmental organization] as well. She started a group in Northern Uganda...she's 70-years-old and has been teaching African politics for so many years, but this was really her first project and I'm on the board. We're trying to build a center there for trauma, healing, reflection and the rehabilitation of former child soldiers and victims of the war in Uganda. That's a totally different world for me, but it's so cool. I was asked to speak at Harvard a few months ago about the work we're doing there. I'm definitely my mother's daughter, and that's a part of my life I never got to tap in to so much in the 20 years I was riding the acting thing. There is a lot I want to do and I feel like I have an opportunity to do it now and still stay in the acting world.
TV Guide Magazine: It's nice to be at a stage in your career where you can pick the jobs you want to do, huh?
Dushku: I'm so grateful that I have been able to get offers and say "This is a cool piece, but it's not exactly what I am looking to do." It can be hard, because parts of me go "Oh, I really want to work." But the truth is, I am working on like 15 different things that are part of the whole picture.
TV Guide Magazine: Has Sarah Michelle Gellar hit you up for a guest spot on Ringer?
Dushku: She is such a sweetie! You know, the life of working on a show, you're sort of in lockdown, and I think she's doing well with the show...but no, I have heard anything about a spot yet. [Laughs]
TV Guide Magazine: Well you have been busy.
Dushku: True. [Laughs] Oh, and I started a campaign on Crowdrise.com for my birthday this year, where we're trying to raise money for Uganda. We just added a YouTube video, too, because when we were in Uganda, we also shot footage — part of our program is using film therapy where we give the people there cameras. Instead of just taking videos, we have them shoot their own footage and tell their own stories. We posted a video of some of the trip on the Crowdrise page.
TV Guide Magazine: When is your birthday?
Dushku: December 30!
TV Guide Magazine: Well that's a pretty awesome way to celebrate.
Dushku: Thank you so much!
To contribute to Eliza's campaign and help the former child soldiers of Uganda, visit crowdrise.com.
Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!