The bad news: Tru Calling is still cancelled. The good news: Fans of Eliza Dushku have two big reasons to be excited. Not only has the Buffy alum reteamed with Joss Whedon to create Dollhouse for Fox (premiering Feb. 13), but she also rocks a rather wild role in a twisty indie hitting theaters on Friday.
Nobel Son stars October Road's Bryan Greenberg as Barkley, the son of a newly christened Nobel Prize winner (Alan Rickman) and a police psychologist (Mary Steenburgen). On the eve of jetting to Sweden for dad's big night, Barkley has an electric and amorous liaison with Dushku's character, named City Hall. That marks just the beginning of the film's very wild ride.
Dushku spoke with TVGuide.com about her Nobel endeavor, as well as shared an update on Dollhouse, which she touts as being "cool and hot and different."
TVGuide.com: You say on the Nobel Son web site, "I fought my ass off for this role." Why exactly was that?
Eliza Dushku: I just loved the script. It's sort of rare when you turn that last page and go, "I have to be in this movie, I have to play this character." I called up my longtime coach and friend and we got to work. I prepared completely to go in and do whatever [writer-producers] Jody [Savin] and Randy [Miller] wanted or needed me to do. I brought props, including these two masks, because one of the key scenes is when I ask Barkley to put on a mask and...
TVGuide.com: Yeah, that moment is only a little creepy.
Dushku: I had a whole supermarket bag filled with masks and a rope and a knife. I was the last audition of the day, and it was like an hour long! When they invited me to come on the film, I was pumped.
TVGuide.com: What I liked about the film is that from the onset, you have no idea where it's going. There's no predicting what story is really being told here.
Dushku: It's a really extraordinary movie in that way, and thank God, because there's a lot of the same old stuff out there. To be a part of something that is so original and twisted is super-exciting.
TVGuide.com: Why is City Hall such a damaged young woman?
Dushku: You get a little bit of that when she talks [to Bill Pullman's police detective]. She had a father. He died. He burned all of her diaries, and then ... well, she sort of just flips on a dime and talks about something else. She's a twisted little bird! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You once said that people have "a better chance of seeing God than seeing me naked." Yet in Nobel Son, you come kinda-sorta close.
Dushku: Oh, I think it's pretty clear I'm wearing underwear in that scene. They're not granny-pants, but.... Those are my own, and I kept them on! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Turning to TV, how are things looking for Fox's Dollhouse? [The sci-fi thriller stars Dushku as Echo, an "Active" who has covert mission-specific personalities imprinted on her.]
Dushku: Awesome. We have all these rumors going around [in the wake of a production stoppage], and yet we're on Episode 7 out of our initial 13. We've made some changes.
TVGuide.com: Hey, it's totally fine to stop and catch your breath and do things right.
Dushku: Completely. And we feel like we're in an awesome groove. The scripts are tight and exciting, and we've definitely upped the action. Initially, we were doing a lot of set-up, and Fox and Joss decided that we needed to have the some of the payoffs come sooner. As a result, I sashay to work every day! I know that sounds crazy, but I love it. I've played probably twenty-some different characters in the past couple months, and every one is a thrill. I've been riding motorcycles and deer hunting, I had a Muay Thai fight scene with a 6-foot-5 cop, I went river rafting, rock climbing.... The whole gamut.
TVGuide.com: When we spoke at the summer TCA (watch video), you told me you were bringing some "skills" of your own to the table. But it sounds like you've added a few.
Dushku: Yes, my "mad skills." [Laughs] Joss and I have been good friends over the years, and one of the things we laugh about is how I live a crazy life and am in 10 places at once. I'm a bit of a storyteller, so I share all these things and he puts them in the show. He joked at Comic-Con that this show is a bit biographical.
TVGuide.com: Should your and Joss' fans be worried by Dollhouse's Friday time slot?
Dushku: We're in the age of DVR, man. People watch what they want to watch, and we feel confident that we're going to bring [existing] fans and welcome new ones. The show is extraordinary. It's cool and it's hot and it's different. It's nice being paired with Sarah Connor Chronicles as a sort of female empowerment night. It takes a little bit of the pressure off [versus airing on Mondays], with 24 coming on after two years. I think the time slot gives us time to come on, air all of our shows and hook people. And I truly believe it will.
TVGuide.com: You obviously had certain expectations and things you were looking forward to with Dollhouse. But now that you're well into filming it, what has surprised you about the show?
Dushku: I've obviously played a lot of strong characters, but Joss, from the very beginning, said, "I also see a lot of vulnerability, and different shades of you that others maybe haven't seen." So I get these scripts and they're different for me. We had this joke where Joss put me in a '40s up-do and it totally threw me off. It just threw me off. [Laughs] He said, "Eliza, I have you figured out. Your comfort zone lies in your hair, and I'm going to take you out of your comfort zone as much as possible. I can throw you off a building or dump you in a river or have you get hit by a truck, and none of that fazes you. But a '40s up-do sends you spinning. So get ready, honey — I'm going to take you for a little adventure!"