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Currently Starring on Fox's "Tru Calling", With her classic beauty and solid acting talent, Eliza Dushku has quickly established herself as one of Hollywood's most sought-after young actresses. Following the success of the feature film "Bring It On," Dushku starred in a wide range of movies, including "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and "City By The Sea," opposite Robert DeNiro. She can currently be seen in the Regency/20th Century Fox film "Wrong Turn" with Desmond Harrington and Jeremy Sisto. Her other film credits include "The New Guy," "Soul Survivor," "True Lies," "This Boy's Life," "That Night," "Bye Bye Love" and "Race the Sun." For television, Dushku starred as Faith on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." Dushku was born on December 30, 1980, in Boston, Massachusetts. She resides in Los Angeles. Eliza is of Dutch and Albanian descent.
At the end of a 5 month search, producers of the 1992 movie 'That Night' had found their supporting star in a young Eliza Dushku. Following this, she appeared as Leonardo DiCaprio's younger step-sister and daughter to Robert DeNiro in Michael Caton-Jones' 'This Boy's Life'. Next for the young actress came 'True Lies' where she worked alongside Arnold Schwarzenneggar and Jamie Lee Curtis. Less noticable films followed (such as 'Bye Bye, Love', 'Journey', 'Race the Sun') before Eliza took a number of years off to finish high school.
Eliza commenced the role of Faith on TVs 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' in 1999 after she had graduated. What was originally written to be a role spanning over only a few episodes, turned into a recurring character in season 3 and then appeared in episodes in season 4 as well as the shows sibling, 'Angel', due to fan, writer and producer popularity alike ("It was just supposed to be for a couple of shows, but then I went bad and hooked up with the evil mayor and became Buffy's enemy. The next thing I know, I'm a regular."). Eliza has since returned to three episodes of 'Angel' and the final five episodes of 'Buffy' (2003).
Since her return to Hollywood, Eliza has also appeared in many feature films. 'Bring It On' where she played opposite Kirsten Dunst was at the top of the US Box Office for three weeks and was liked by critics and the general populus. The highly popular among fans director, Kevin Smith, invited Eliza to be a part of his final adventure for his two characters, Jay and Silent Bob, in 'Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back', where Eliza co-starred with the likes of Shannen Elizabeth, Ali Larter, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck and many more.
Following this, the dud teen horror movie 'Soul Survivors' ("I think it's clear that the film just didn't quite come together") which garnered dislike from almost everyone came as the actresses first wrong move since her return. 'The New Guy' pursued which was accepted as a decent effort in the teen movie genre, however nothing spectacular. She then returned to work with former co-star Robert DeNiro and director Michael Caton-Jones in 'City by the Sea', teaming her up with James Franco, playing his junkie girlfriend and mother of his child. This role showed the diverse nature of her talent and gave her more attention from an adult audience as opposed to teens.
Her latest feature film was 'Wrong Turn' which opened to mixed reviews in mid-2003. The movie is said to be a throw back to the 70's genre of horror and gore - a different type of teen thriller. Eliza heads the cast as Jessie, with co-stars such as Jeremy Sisto ('Six Feet Under') and Desmond Harrington ('Ghost Ship').
Having worked with some of Hollywood's biggest names, both as a child actress and at present, Eliza has bombarded the scene with both raw talent and a refreshing non-Hollywood attitude ("My brothers were definitely there to tell me to shut the fuck up.") Looking up to Jamie Lee Curtis for her humble nature ("She’s so amazing and down-to-earth and smart and strong. Even my mother at the time when I was 12 years old said "you watch this woman. This is how you should be a famous actress with dignity and respect for every person you come in contact with." She was my role model I think."), Eliza has demonstrated time and time again that she adopts a very similar attitude according to many fans who have had the fantastic opportunity to meet her.
Next up for Eliza (following 'Tru Calling') is the independent film, 'The Kiss' in post-production for director Gorman Bechard and co-starring Billy Zane and Terence Stamp. There are also two movies in which Eliza is "In Talks" to star in. 'The Tourist' (by Daniel Pyne of 'The Sum of all Fears' and 'The Firm' big-screen adaptations) which is about a murder occuring in a small country town and everyone turning towards the new and mysterious tourist as the lead suspect.
'Annika' will have Eliza as the lead (Annika), a young woman assisting the FBI to track down her mobster father. This movie is written and will be directed by Peter Kelley who worked with Eliza as a dialogue-coach for many of her roles ('That Night', 'This Boy's Life', 'True Lies', 'Bring It On').
Eliza Patricia Dushku was born in the dawn of 1980 on December 30th of that year to a Mormon family in Boston, Massachusetts. Her parents are both college professors and she has three older brothers, whom she says used to terrorize her and taught her to become a tomboy, but she must have forgiven them as she still lives with her oldest brother Nate today.
At the age of twelve she already proved herself better than every waiter in Los Angeles when she made her way onto the silver screen in the 1992 film, That Night. The film wasn't a box-office smash, but it did lead to a role alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in 1993's This Boy's Life. Eliza recalls how she is "forever grateful" to DiCaprio, a former child actor himself, for teaching her to deal with bullies and petty jealousy from fellow classmates.
Eliza took a few years off from acting in order to bring up her grades and finish her junior and senior years at Watertown High School. But only a few months after graduation in 1998, she landed back in fictional high school as Faith in the cult hit, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Originally introduced in the third episode of the third season, Faith was never meant to become a permanent member of the show, but an overwhelming response from Buffy fans convinced the producers to sign Eliza on for the rest of the season, and eventually evolved Faith into a full-time character.
She has even found time on the Buffy spin-off, Angel. As a side note, Eliza legally separated from her parents in order to surpass child labor laws, which dictate the number of hours that actors who aren't yet eighteen can work. Since then, the sexy brunette has become an important star in the teen world, with roles in last year's cheerleader blockbuster Bring it On (waving those pompoms with Kirsten Dunst); Kevin Smith's irreverent hit Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; and the horror flick Soul Survivors.
As for relationships, she is involved with a Ralph Lauren model named Colby, who's probably much better looking than all of us. Maybe once she breaks up with him, Eliza will be looking for smart guys like us who can spell her last name properly (Dushku!). In the meantime, we can rejoice in the fact that the future is holding some big things for Eliza Dushku in her burgeoning film career. Whether you're lounging around watching TV or going to the movies, you'll be sure to catch more of this rising star.
Eliza Dushku: I was ''tomboy''
You might have first seen petite, brown-eyed Eliza Dushku as Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter in True Lies or opposite Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On. She was evil and hot as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer'"s nemesis Faith for two seasons and suffered through the supernatural in Soul Survivors. Now, she plays D.J. Qualles' cheerleader love interest in the new high school comedy The New Guy (PG-13). The actress told us that she was a grade "A" tomboy and toughie as a kid but when we spoke to her, she was very "femme" in a lacy, pink and beige blouse. She told us what she wants in a guy and hopes her string of bad girl roles is over.
AGW: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Eliza: My mother. She's like Mother Theresa or something yet she's so feisty and so opinionated. She's a teacher. It was her 60th birthday recently and someone got up and said 'she's been teaching since 1960 and this is the amount of students that have gone through so Judy has had a profound impact on this many people'. She's so kind and smart. She's about to take off to be the Dean of a program in Senegal with my stepfather for six months. She loves the people of the world. We always traveled growing up. She's a feminist and yet she's Mormon so she has these good values but she's also 'don't step on me. I'm woman, hear me roar'. She raised four kids, a single mom. She's awesome. She and I did a trip to South Africa just recently.
AGW: Were you the cheerleader or the blossoming nerd in high school?
Eliza: In middle school I was just a nerd who couldn't do anything right, who wore all the wrong clothes. I got tortured so in high school it was what can I do to make the teasing stop so I got tough and started wearing the Army-Navy jacket and going in and giving everybody crazy eyes trying to defend myself. I started working this tough thing pretty well I guess because the people on "Buffy" saw that and asked me to come on. But it was a defense. I started getting a string of bad girl roles. I kind of lost that tough girl front and am a much nicer person but everyone is 'you're the bad girl'. It's nice to have the role in The New Guy. I'm just more comfortable with myself.
AGW: What was your first movie? How did you break in?
Eliza: The first movie was That Night and I was 10 years old and I sort of fell into it. My brother had always wanted to act and had been going on commercial auditions and I tagged along. I tripped on the stairs going to his audition and got a bloody nose and turned into instant drama queen and everyone was like 'who is the kid?' and my brother was, 'hey, over here'.
AGW: How do you think movies have changed since you were 10?
Eliza: People want it and they want it now. They want control. We want to see this, this and this. If we don't see it, we think the movie sucks. It's kind of hard to keep up with how the audience has changed. People are less interested in seeing something fresh and new and because of that a lot of movies that come out aren't fresh and new. People are always trying to duplicate what was a hit.
AGW: Why did you want to be in The New Guy?
Eliza: I loved that it had this universal message and timeless theme that everyone can relate to. Everyone's been in high school. Everyone knows what it was like whether you were in the popular crew or not. Every single person has had that day of going in and being so terrified of being rejected. Then being rejected or trying to be someone you're not, trying to fit in and trying so hard to be cool. You can't fake it, you are who you are.
AGW: A lot of people describe Hollywood as just being another version of high school.
Eliza: It's like a big popularity contest. Even just in terms of people's physical appearance, the whole struggle for actresses to be thin, be a hundred pounds and it's really hard. I have a lot of friends who say 'I love my body the way I am'. They do and they look great. I happen to be a bony, skinny kid. I don't know why. My brothers too. They always wanted to be big and buff. The Dushkus eat like it's going out of style. We chow. We eat so much and are still bony. It sucks that there is only this one thing everyone is looking for. It is like high school. People are rejecting you because you aren't what they think is right or their opinion of cool or beautiful.
AGW: What would be an ideal date for you?
Eliza: I'm very into doing outdoorsy things lately. I just got scuba diving certified. Also, I would love for a guy to find out what I like but not through me. I think that would be very romantic for a guy to like call one of my brothers or my friends and go like 'what's her thing? Tell me'. Then he could pick me up and I could say 'Wow, we have so much in common'.
AGW: D.J. isn't exactly the typical leading man. What do you think makes him hot?
Eliza: He so genuine and you can just feel him. Even though he has this dishonest thing he does in the movie, he's so not a malicious person. He's trying to please. The nice guys always get the girl. Girls may go through stages where they have a bad boy obsession but in the end who wants to marry a bad boy? I guess we know we're going to be with a nice guy some day so we have to try on the other shoe first. The bad boys usually give off that vibe of 'you don't completely have me yet' so what are you fighting for if they're like 'I'm yours. Let me cook you breakfast'.
AGW: You are really outspoken. Has that gotten you in trouble?
Eliza: (laughs) My family is very open and I think that I scare a lot of men because I sort of talk all the time. My mother, brothers and I talk about everything. I've got to have a talker who is honest about their feelings. Good looking isn't bad. I guess I go for the tall, dark and handsome personally, with smarts. I'm from a family of teachers and college professors. I definitely like a guy who can sit at our kitchen table in Boston and keep up with the conversation.
AGW: Do you like to have some input into your characters on set?
Eliza: The way I like to work is I read the character that I'm to be and kind of prepare but don't over prepare my work. I go in and learn my lines on the day of because if I do a line 30 times it gets stale and is not spontaneous and doesn't sound real when I say it. I like to go in and say 'let's do one' and I'll show you the way I interpreted the scene and if you want anything changed, do it. And my favorite thing to do is take direction. 'Tell me what to do. More of this? Got it'. Then I'll completely change what I do. It's a collaborative process.
AGW: Do you feel stuck in the teen movie genre?
Eliza: No. I'm a few years off from being a teen but I might as well play the young girl while I can. The older, serious roles are coming. I change with every year and learn things about myself.
AGW: Who are your acting heroes?
Eliza: Jamie Lee Curtis who I worked with when I was so young (True Lies) had a great impact on me. She's so amazing and down-to-earth and smart and strong. Even my mother at the time when I was 12 years old said 'you watch this woman. This is how you should be a famous actress with dignity and respect for every person you come in contact with'. She was my role model I think.
AGW: What kind of music are you into?
Eliza: I grew up with brothers and they all had different tastes in music. One brother was very alternative rock and good ole rock and roll and then my middle brother was very Bob Marley, Reggae, hip hop and rap. At home I have Beastie Boys to Bob Marley to Mary J. Blige and Madonna.
AGW: Star Wars is coming out. Did it have any impact on your life?
Eliza: I had the action figures when I was a kid and I had the Darth Vader carrying case for all my action figures and I would hold it up and talk behind it and do the whole voice thing. I think I was just doing it because they were action figure guys with guns. I guess R2D2, maybe but I don't feel the whole phenomenon come rushing back to me.
AGW: So you played more with action figures than dolls?
Eliza: Oh yeah. My mother was terrified. All I wanted to wear were hand-me-downs. I thought I was a boy till I was 10 years old. I used to wear my hair cut like a boy. I used to beg my mom to let me get a crew cut but she wouldn't let me. My brothers were my best friends. They were really protective.
AGW: So you were a total tomboy?
Eliza: I WAS a boy. People would tell my mom. 'You have four handsome young boys' and my mom would say 'that one's a girl!' Because she'd give me Barbies and I'd cut the hair off and rip their heads off and feed them to my dog. I had that guy thing. It changed maybe my first movie when they put make-up on me and I was so not into it but there were these twin boys in the movie and I thought they were so cute and they were really into the other two girls on the shoot and I was wondering why. One day they put me in this pretty dress and curled my hair and I thought that the curls were so pretty. So, I started to feel more feminine. I'm still not very graceful. Usually, I have cuts and bruises.
AGW: Are you going to take on any more projects this summer?
Eliza: I'm just looking for something that really effects me. There are kind of slim pickings at times. I haven't been in a rush to make the first script that comes across my desk. I want something I really love to be next.
In September there's a film called City by the Sea with Robert DeNiro. I play his son's girlfriend, his son is James Franco and is the lead suspect in a murder. It's a powerful, intense drama.
Eliza Dushku is a babe with a big power
"I love leather and it's great to be a bad girl at times. But there is a time and place for everything. When I'm with Grandma it's flowers, and when I'm out on the town scoping guys, you know..."
says Eliza Dushku.
Many actresses couldn't say a line like "I can't believe how much I'm gonna kill you" and still make you want to tear your pants off, but then there are very few actresses as multifaceted as Eliza Dushku -- America's version of Olivier, really. But even Sir Laurence was never able to pull off looking this good in a pair of tight pants and a revealing halter-top (try as he did).
Eliza is far more than the sum of her curving and bouncing assets; she has held her own working with big-name movie directors like James "Titanic" Cameron and was still able to shine bright whilst sharing the screen with stars like Robert De Niro.
Before her days of celebrity and notoriety, when young starlets are expected to take part in token charity work, Eliza sang for deaf children in the community theater circuit, where she taught young deaf boys to be extra thankful for their gift of vision.
She makes us think bad thoughts when watching her handle that big long wooden stake, along with Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Apparently the same naughty thoughts were bouncing around in the minds of heavyweight producers when they picked this new face (among other body parts) out from out of the blue sky of anonymity to perform in their multimillion-dollar blockbusters.
They know a female with the power to cause men to empty their pockets to make room for other things when they see one. It's fortunate that Eliza has come along at a time when the teenage demographic drives television, Hollywood, print, and Internet... magazines. So even an actress on an arse-backwards network like the WB is given the driving force to become the next big thing.
You can see her signature choir-girl/Slayer charm in two films, with Shannon Elizabeth and Kevin Smith in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and no one worth mentioning in Soul Survivors.
Scientists can clone sheep and describe the smallest elementary particles of the atomic world to the most minute detail, but those nerdy bastards still can't one-up God in the allure of full, pouty lips, the instinctual appeal of those dark eyes, and of course, the texture of her perfect, shiny, brunette do.
I am sure that in years to come, Eliza will gallop down the well-trodden road of many a young actress and share her body with the masses via the pages of Play..boy, and then God and all his loyal disciples can gather and rejoice in the beauty and awe of his creation.
Probably no more than a few years ago, she was wearing those baggy jeans and jackets that were so popular with the kids. Thank God she found her unique vision of tight clothes and no underwear. It makes you sit back and be thankful that we live in this great nation where women are able to wear whatever revealing clothes they desire.
Eliza Dushku plays in the romantic comedy ''The New Guy''
Eliza Dushku began her big screen acting career co-starring with Juliette Lewis in the 1992 film, "That Night." Since then, she's been working steady in both films and on television. In 1998, Eliza increased her fan base with her very popular recurring role as 'Faith' on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
In "The New Guy," Eliza Dushku stars as Danielle, the beautiful head cheerleader and love interest of DJ Qualls' character, Diz. Before leaving on a cross-country tour to promote "The New Guy," Eliza sat down with the media in Los Angeles to discuss her career, her role in this romantic comedy, and the hardships of life in high school.
Was "Can't Buy Me Love" a big influence on the people making this movie?
I would imagine so but I don't know in particular. I mean, it seems to me that it's very 'on the same page.' Especially when he disses his friends. That's like the moment when everyone is like, "Dude, you did it. You crossed the line." You just feel for him, even though he is such a shit. My heart breaks. I remember throwing a Popsicle stick in my now-best friend's hair because all the cool girls in school were like, "Throw this Popsicle stick in her hair." I was like, "I can't, she was my friend." I just didn't know what to do. All the cool girls were like, "Do it, do it, do it." I did it and to this day it makes me want to cry. To this day I'm like, "Allison, I'm so, so sorry I did that to you in the lunchroom in 7th grade." But it was like the moment where I was just…It's high school, man. They compare it to prison in the movie.
That's one of the reasons why I really did like the movie and respond to the script. I thought it would be interesting to be on the other side because I definitely know the world, to be playing that character.
What makes you so tough in the roles you play?
It's interesting because I was thinking about this recently. When I was back in school and I was being made fun of so much - in middle school I was terrified when people would make fun of me and I would cry. My mom said my knuckles would turn white. Every single comment dug straight in and I was so vulnerable because of it. So then, I went away to private school for a year and I wanted to go back to high school. I started thinking like, "I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't." I kind of like built up this really tough girl front basically and it got me through high school. I did this whole 'hard as nails,' big talker thing, and then I actually tried out for "Buffy" just after I graduated high school and that really kind of was where I was in my life at that point. I was living it, you know? I started using it in my entire life. Now, I'm 21 years old and I've kind of grown into myself and I feel like I've become even a little bit softer because I don't have to have that defense mechanism anymore. It's nice. It's like "You're the bad girl," but I mean, that's not so much where I am now. Do you know what I'm saying? So it's like they say, art imitates life and I really feel like that's one of the things - like having your life documented on film - a lot of the characters that I played were really realistic for the times that I was in. I don't know what I'm going to play next but everyone is like, "It's such a stretch for you, playing the nice girl." I'm like, "Not real. I'm actually a lot nicer."
Did your three brothers make you tough?
Yeah, they toughened me up but at the same time, my parents were divorced when I was a baby so my brothers were very loving and fatherly to me. I used to say my brothers beat me up but when I think about it, they were like my fathers growing up. They really treated me like a princess in so many ways, to compensate for my father or whatever. When you were tortured that much - like I was ostracized in middle school - you remember it. It was so bad and it made me so insecure and so messed up.
Is that why you did this picture?
Part of the reason, for sure. You see this movie, it's almost like every body has gone through it, I don't care who you are. Even if you were in the popular cliché, everyone has had rejection in high school that makes you feel like you want to die, and feel like you want to be somebody else, feel like just 'be cool or die.' And what is cool? It's also that everyone ends up learning the lesson, because we all go through it, which is like you have to just be yourself and be authentic, treat other people how you want to be treated.
You had to do a bathing suit modeling scene in this film. Did that embarrass you?
Oh yeah, totally, especially when I'm half-naked. It was a lot of fun and it was really relaxed and comfortable. Ed's (director Ed Decter) great. Everyone in the cast and crew was great. I know that people say that, but we really did have a good time on the movie. It was a really smooth, fun atmosphere.
There's a lot of pressure in this town to have a tiny body. Have you ever had to worry about keeping in shape?
I've always just been really little. My three brothers, they've always hated it because they're guys and they've always wanted to be real beefy and butch, but we're all just very skinny. I think it's my dad, he's just very little. We eat, like all of our friends think we are nuts. The Dushkus eat like it's going out of style. We chow; we'll eat a lot. People ask where it's going. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snacks everyday, all day.
You've never had an issue with your body image?
No. Going running makes me feel emotionally better and emotionally healthy. It's so important to me, and just doing yoga.
Does it feel empowering?
Yes, it does. Yeah, absolutely. I do it for the emotional and psychological benefits of it. I'll get depressed if I don't go to the gym for a week, or if I don't do something. You just get slumpy and headaches and tired. That just started happening in the past couple of years. I'm only 21 so when I was young it wasn't a problem, but now, I definitely have to like keep active.
You have "City by the Sea" next?
Right, it comes out in September.
Are you playing James Franco's girlfriend?
Yeah, and we're kind of recovering. I think he's using drugs. We have a baby together in the movie. We shot that at the same time I was shooting this movie so I would go away for a week and go to New York. I'm going from playing the bubbly cheerleader girl to being a junkie living in Jersey with a kid, working at a Burger King drive-thru window. The director, I'd show up and have like a manicure and everything, and he's like, "Would you get some dirt under your nails and grow a zit? We're trying to make a movie here." I'm like, "Sorry, I'm sorry!" In my brain it was always bizarre going back and forth. I had to prepare for the role on the airplane. That's what makes this job so exciting, I guess.
You did a screen-test for "Spider-Man." What did you have to do?
It was Tobey's screen-test actually. I worked with Tobey on "This Boy's Life" and he called me up and was like, "I'm doing this screen-test. I really, really want this role and I need somebody to read with me." He's like, "Will you come in? It'll be fun. It's supposed to be the biggest screentest of all time. There's going to be some stunt stuff. Would you be down to come in and do that?" I was like, "Absolutely." So I went in. It wasn't really about me so I never really...We just went in and we did a couple of scenes and they had him hanging from a rope and doing all this stuff. That was pretty much it.
Is that done often where you help with a screen-test for something that you're not going out for?
If it's for a friend, yeah, totally, definitely.
''Tru Calling'' starring Eliza Dushku on DVD now
DVDs are popular holiday gifts. Many science-fiction fans have DVD players and a compulsion to own every episode of their favorite shows. Thus, it's not surprising to see many science-fiction TV-to-DVD releases coming out this time of year. Here are some new and recent DVD sets that may appeal to the sci-fi fan on your shopping list:
Tru Calling (Fox Home Entertainment): Eliza Dushku left behind a flashy role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, where she played bad girl Faith, for this entertaining but fairly generic action series. She plays Tru Davies, a morgue worker who travels back in time to save people whose corpses have turned up on her slabs. In the early episodes, saving those people involves a lot of running around in tank tops; in later episodes, the stories become more intricate.
The DVD set includes commentaries, deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes documentaries.
Eliza Dushku was around corpses at a very young age
Working in a morgue could be creepy for some. Not Eliza Dushku.
Dushku's character in the new Fox drama "Tru Calling" lands a gig on the midnight shift at the city morgue, where she hears a murder victim asking for help. Dushku, it seems, was around corpses at a very early age - long before she was around network suits.
"My best friend in elementary school, her father owned a funeral home in Watertown (Mass.), the MacDonald Funeral Home, and we were these kind of crazy, high-energy 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds," Dushku said. "Every day after school we would go there because her grandmother lived upstairs." Never would she have dreamed that a decade later she would be starring in a series in which dead people - and soon-to-be dead people - make up a key component.
"Bernadette MacDonald, she introduced me to my first morguish experience," Dushku said. The twist in the show is that after hearing the cry for help from the dead folks, Dushku's character, Tru, wakes up 12 hours earlier. Knowing what's ahead, she sets out to prevent tragedies.
"Tru Calling," which launches Oct. 30 at 8 p.m., is Dushku's first outing as a lead in a prime-time series. But she's no stranger to television viewers or moviegoers. Dushku played Faith on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," and has appeared in the big-screen films "Bring it On" and "City By the Sea." Dushku said she immediately identified with the young woman at the heart of "Tru Calling."
"It was kind of surprising, yet comforting," Dushku said. "I felt if I get the opportunity, and they want to get this to me, we do have so many similarities."
After Fox scheduled the show, the cast and crew went back to reshoot parts of the pilot. The original got generally weak buzz from critics who saw it, and even Dushku agrees the new version is better. "In the pilot, you don't know if you're picked up yet - you're trying to give as many story lines as possible," she said. "There was too much going on in the first one. I think it lost some of the initial direction. The second one was much more clear and concise."
Being the lead means Dushku is also carrying a heavier load than she had in the past. - "In other shows, I used to get to hang out with the Teamsters and kick back," she said. She also wouldn't mind getting a shot at a guest part on "Angel," either. She said she loves the world that series creator Joss Whedon has made and never wants to be out of it.
Last spring, Dushku reprised her role of Faith in a multi-episode arc on WB's "Angel" and UPN's "Buffy." Even though she's now the star of a series on a rival network, Dushku has not closed the door on future appearances as television's second favorite vampire slayer.
"I would love to go back. I love David (Boreanaz, star of 'Angel'). David is one of my favorite people to work with ever. I would love to go back because I love that world," she said. "Like I never want to completely fall out of the 'Buffy' . . . universe because I think it's unlike anything I've ever experienced."
Eliza Dushku's first true calling wasn't as an actress
The Boston native, best known for playing Faith on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," vividly remembers helping her brother deliver the Boston Herald. "I thought the world was going to change if I didn't fold the paper exactly right," Dushku said in a recent conference call with reporters. "I thought it was the most important job ever."
Now as Tru Davies, her character on the Fox drama "Tru Calling", she does get to change the world. When the college graduate takes a job working the night shift at the city morgue, dead people start talking to her. Tru discovers she has the ability to relive the previous day - and perhaps save the lives of the recently deceased.
"She almost has to be, not a con woman, but when you're trying to figure these things out and trying to get the information about these people, she almost turns into a private investigator," Dushku said. "It's very 'Alias' sometimes." Like her character, Dushku is 22 years old. Despite the series' sci-fi nature, she identifies with Tru's plight. "Being 22 years old, you already feel like you're kind of carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders," she said. "How would someone react and act if they all of a sudden really were carrying the weight on their shoulders. It's kind of a small, dramatic, concentrated way to show situations that life puts us in where our actions or failures to act makes all the difference."
Dushku has had to adjust to the pressure of carrying a series. "It's a lot of work, that's for sure," she said. "On other shows, you get to hang out with the Teamsters, chatting people up and just kind of kicking it. Now it's a different story. You barely leave the set.
"But at the same time, I love it because I love going to work everyday. It's 16- to 18-hour days sometimes. You don't get much sleep, and you don't have much of a social life anymore, but if you love what you're doing, it's a gift."
Since its initial screening for critics, the pilot has undergone some major revisions - some characters were dropped, others were recast, and Tru has a brand-new apartment. Does Dushku think the show is going in the right direction?
"It's hard, because I'm like my best friend and my own worst enemy," she said. "When it comes to watching the show, I can't watch the dailies. I've only seen the two versions of the pilot. I definitely was drawn to the second version more . . . In the pilot, it's hard because you don't even know if you're picked up yet. So I think that they want to give as many options for story lines as possible to show that kind of diversity. Yet there was just too much going on in the first one, in my opinion. There were just so many story lines, and so many things happening that it just kind of got jumbled, and I felt like it lost the initial direction and main focus. I just hope that for the second time around, it felt more clear, concise and heroic."