Intense training and sheer nerve may not be all that have enabled Juliet Landau to give such frightfully funny performances lately as Drusilla, the blood-sucking ex-lover of the title vampire on Angel — talent is in her genes. But the daughter of Oscar winner Martin Landau and Barbara Bain (co-stars on the 1960s Mission: Impossible series) initially had no intention of going into the family business.
"I never thought I'd do it," the former ballerina tells TV Guide Online. "I thought, 'I'm a dancer, that's their thing.' Then I took an acting class and loved it."
Now that the junior achiever has put one foot in front of the other careerwise, she longs to perform alongside her parents. And while being cast by Ed Wood director Tim Burton opposite Dad's Bela Lugosi afforded her the chance to work with him, she never got to actually speak to him on-screen. "In a reenactment of [Wood's grade-Z flick] Bride of the Monster," she recalls, giggling, "he hypnotizes me, then ends up whipping Tor Johnson, the big Swedish wrestler."
Despite the scrutiny under which second-generation starlets from Tori Spelling to Kate Hudson find themselves, Landau — who got her big break in The Grifters, playing, ironically, a young Anjelica Huston — insists that she's never felt any pressure to prove herself... at least, none that she couldn't shrug off. "I'm just really passionate about my work," she maintains. "That carries me."