(Scifi.com, 2004)Actress Eliza Dushku made a big splash in the Buffy universe by playing bad-girl-turned-good-Slayer Faith. Now she'll star in her own series about a young woman who can hear a dead person's pleas for help and relive a day to save them. Tru Calling premieres on Fox Thursday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m.
Dushku's claim to fame may be her recurring role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but she also has a solid background in film. She began her film career with That Night, and has gone on to star in Bring It On, Soul Survivor, True Lies and City by the Sea with Robert De Niro. Her most recent film was Wrong Turn, which came out last spring.
Dushku chatted with Science Fiction Weekly about playing a young woman who talks to dead people, saying goodbye to Buffy and getting domestic.
What attracted you to Tru Calling?
The whole package. I'd never wanted to do television because of the long commitment. Having done film, after two, three months I could go back to school if I wanted to or do whatever. But a series commitment seemed like forever. As Buffy was ending, I was looking at life and about how maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to have a consistent job. On top of that, everyone involved with the project was just so amazing. The creator, Jon Feldman ... really put together a cool premise and a great character.
And Tru Davies is an interesting character. She's quite different from Buffy's Faith.
Yeah. Tru is something new for me and also for television. I can't think of a lot of characters that are like her that are out there on television right now. And it's an interesting age, too, because the teenage thing has been done and the 30-year-old woman thing has been done. Twenty-two is a cool age to explore, because everyone goes through there.
Tell me about Tru Calling.
It's about a girl who is just trying to get by. She has her own family and personal issues, as any other girl on the street would, but she's for the most part just a normal girl. She doesn't have any super powers and she's not really a wild child. She graduates from college, and she wants to go to medical school. Of course, her internship falls through, and her advisor tells her that there's this one other job that she might not jibe with, but she should check out. She shows up and it's the graveyard shift of the city morgue. For me, it felt real, the way it was written, in that here's a girl like me or any one of my friends, who goes up to the morgue and goes, "You've got to be joking. I can't handle this. It is insane." But she really doesn't have other options, so she goes for it.
Within her first night there she hears voices, and she starts to snoop around the morgue and is looking at the bodies and discovers they have a way of communicating with her. I think we'll figure out as the show goes on how much is supernatural and how much is her sixth sense. Basically, her day jumps back to the beginning, and she wakes up in bed and has the power to relive the day and possibly save people. I think, as the show goes on, it will turn into something where it's "What if this could happen? What if?" And now, is she supposed to play God and decide who is supposed to live and who is supposed to die? What is that, anyway? I think there are a lot of different directions it could go.
What is special about the character of Tru?
I like that once she finds out that she has this ability or this gift or curse, what have you ... it's going to seem like both at times. Of course, everyone would want to believe and assume that if that would ever happen to them they would do the right thing and be noble and go out there and save the world. And yet at the same time she's going, "Why me? Why am I supposed to do this? I want to do this, but I'm also trying to get by on my normal life, and my family's got their problems, and I've got my problems."
I think it's similar to the theme of Buffy, which is this normal girl who's got enough on her plate just dealing with life and coping with growing up and being a young woman, and then all of a sudden she's got the weight of the world on her shoulders in terms of everyone else. It just a struggle, and how she's going to react. She's not always going to be able to save people. She's going to mess up and not always do the right thing. But watching her unravel that in her brain with her personality [will be the interesting part].
What is going to be the biggest challenge in doing this series?
I think she's definitely a strong character, but I think that she's a little more apprehensive and a little more guarded and careful than Faith.
She's certainly not as cocky and doesn't have the confidence level.
Yeah. Well, you could call it confidence, or you could call Faith's cockiness 100 percent insecurity [laughs]
. I think that they're just different. People have different ways of coping with fear, and I think that's ultimately what it's about. And so here she is. I think it will be difficult to balance that mixture of being a problem solver and really going for it and being bold with her actions, and yet kind of doubting herself at the same time and wondering what's this all about. It's hard enough to figure out little decisions on a daily basis when you're 22, and now you're dealing with someone else's life and someone else's fate and someone else's life-or-death situation. I think she's constantly going to be doubting herself and figuring out what's right and what's wrong.
Are you a little bit nervous about getting into your own series, with its 16-hour days on a full-time basis?
It's almost like my friends. They go to college, and they get their summers off, and they get to run around and travel. And then, after college, you get to a certain age where it's like "OK. Well, now I need to start my career, or now I need to do something that's a little bit more full-time." Because that's the world we live in. You have to work [laughs]
. So I think that's one of the things that actually appealed to me, is the consistency. I love traveling, but at the same time, to do it in films, you never know where you're going to be. You're here one minute, gone the next. It's hard to hook up with your family, and it's hard to do other things. So I think it will be nice to be in one place and have a home. I just bought a puppy. So I'm looking to be a little bit domestic if this is to go for a few years.
What do you think will make Tru Calling stand out from the rest of the pack in the fall?
I think that a lot of the shows centered around girls. Buffy has ended and Dark Angel had a good run. But I think that there are so many stories still to be told about young women. And, obviously, young women make up a pretty large part of our society, and people want to see it, want to explore it. So there will always be an interest there, an attraction there. Because I think that girls learn a lot from watching these characters, and that's why it's important that they are portrayed as real as possible, because girls are learning from the characters they watch. Their triumphs and their mistakes. It's almost a form of therapy for some people.
Are you worried about the competition? You have a tough timeslot against Friends and Survivor.
No, in terms of this business, a long time ago I got over the whole competitive thing. I mean, I'm not going to say that there haven't been times when maybe I lusted after a role and it didn't come to fruition. But I definitely feel like there are such a small percentage of actors who get the opportunity to have something tangible and even as big as a guest-starring role on a show. I mean, how can I feel anything other than lucky? The competition is not really coming into it. Everything happens for a reason, you know. If the show finds an audience, then that's fantastic. And if not, then we try something else. We're going to dive in and just go for it.
I have confidence in the story and I have confidence that people will be able to relate to the characters. Because if people can relate to me, and people have related to characters that I've played in the past, I think that this one has a lot that we do with it. As long as I can get out with the essence of the character, then people hopefully will be interested and intrigued.
The pilot had a lot going on, and there's so many different things that they jammed into one show. I think that with this show it's something that you really feel out. It's not like a movie, where you make the movie over two months and then it's over. They cut it together. This is a living and breathing thing. It's every week. So there are going to be shows that are great, and there are going to be shows that are not, and I think the writers learn from what works and what doesn't. You never really know until you're there on the day, or you see the final show. I think it's a work in progress, and I like that. I like that as much as I don't have 100 percent creative approval or say, I think that a lot of things about me will come out in the character as we go. Art imitates life, and I feel that the show will just grow as I do, and as the audience does. I'm excited. I really am.
It looks like a really good cast for this series, too.
I think that Zach Galifianakis [Davis]
is really funny. And I think the brother-and-sister dynamics are realistic and cool.
Regarding Buffy, how do you sum up your thoughts on the series? You spent a lot of time on that show.
I've obviously been asked many times. Not to sound redundant, I have nothing but praise for the show and for the cast and for Joss Whedon and everyone involved. I think they're truly, truly some of the finest, smartest, most creative people to put a show on television. I think it will be remembered forever. The show is a phenomenon. It's not often you have a show. I mean the diversity of the fans, from 70-year-old ladies in Alabama to people in Russia and every continent on the planet. It just shook me out. But it also didn't shock me, because all the components were there. All the variables put together this awesome equation, and it worked. It was always smart, and it was always dead-on, and the people were good.
Did it surprise you where the series ended up, considering where Faith started out?
Yeah. Even when I was going to go back for the last five shows, I'd come from Angel and I asked Joss, "I feel like Faith is much softer, but I don't feel like pumping her up with toughness that isn't organic is the right way to go. I mean, you tell me." And he said, "No." The same kind of thing. "Art imitates life, and Faith's been in the clink, and she's possibly learned a thing or two. She got to mellow out. She was there trying to find redemption. So she grows and you grow. And so we play it real." And I loved how the show ended.
I remember getting the last script and, of course, everyone's thinking how is Joss going to do this? How is he to take a show [with] so much weight and cap it off in an hour? How do you do that? What's he going to do? And by the time I turned the last page of the script, I just remember thinking, "Oh, that's how you do it." You distribute the power to every girl and every potential Slayer and every Slayer wannabe out there. I just thought it was so beautiful and so perfect in terms of the times and what's been happening in the world. It's been a really emotional time for everyone. I thought it was amazing.
It must have been special being a part of that last show, considering how much time you spent on the show.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, being a part of everyone on the last shot was pretty great.
Is there a chance we might see you on Angel this year?
You never know. David Boreanaz is my brother from another mother. He's my boy. We have so much fun, and I'd work with David again and again and again. He's great. I love acting with him from a personal and professional standpoint. And that's what's the most important to me. You've got to love the people you come in contact with when at work, or else it's fun for no one and you just want to get the hell out of there. I love when it feels like it's not work and when you're hanging out with people you respect and can goof around with and trust.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I wonder if I said anything really profound [laughs]. If so, then that's great. If not, then hopefully the Buffy fans will still want to hear the words that come out of my mouth [laughs].