Eliza Dushku pulls back the curtain to Fox's Dollhouse

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Eliza Dushku, who stars in Joss Whedon's upcoming SF Fox series Dollhouse, says it's been challenging playing the role of a woman who takes on different personas every week.

Speaking in an exclusive interview last week in Los Angeles, Dushku added that she can't wait for fans—and potential critics—to see the show, which hits the airwaves on Feb. 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Dollhouse tells the story of a group of people, called "dolls," whose minds have been wiped and who are implanted with artificial personalities--memories, skills, even physical abilities and infirmities--in order to perform tasks for hire by a secret organization: escort service, assassination, kidnap negotiation, etc. The show stars Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast member Dushku, former Battlestar Galactica cast member Tahmoh Penikett, Olivia Williams, Harry Lennix and former Angel star Amy Acker. It will air Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT, after Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Following is an edited excerpt of Dushku's interview with SCI FI Wire.

Tell me about some of the crazier stuff you've gotten to do.

Dushku: You mean dunking me in the National Sequoia Park river, like rolling me on the street in a motorcycle crash. They have me in a six-page ... fight scene with Tahmoh [Penikett], who, yeah, we're about the same size, so it was an even match, but we had a big fight scene ...

You kicked his ass, right?

Dushku: Yeah, totally. And then ... Joss puts me in these up-dos that really throw me for a loop. ... He's like, "I can throw you off a building, I can run you over with a car, and like, you know, while you're getting your ass kicked by like eight guys, and me putting you in an up-do is the one thing that takes you out of your comfort zone. There's something wrong with that." It's true! I'm just such, I don't know, I just grew up such a tomboy that having my hair, like, up and prim and proper just feels so foreign. Those are the weirdest days for me. Go figure.

You play different characters.

Dushku: Multiple. Every week, yes.

How's that?

Dushku: Good times. It's really good times. You never get bored. Yeah, boredom is not an option. ... I walk into my trailer, and there's 15 ... skirts and pants and tops for me to try on for the next episode, and I walk in, and there's like ... horse-riding gear or ... sky-diving gear. ... Every time I walk into my trailer and see the new wardrobe, I ... get an idea what the next episode is going to involve, and it's always exciting.

It's kind of a challenge, because you're playing different characters, but you've got to be Echo in there somewhere, right?

Dushku: Echo is ... the name ... that they've given me [in the] Dollhouse. So Caroline ... may be who I really am, but I'm also Echo. But I'm also each person I'm imprinted to be.

Are any of those people Eliza?

Dushku: I think all of them have a little bit of Eliza in them. It's about gauging and playing chemist. Yeah. Because I myself have multiple personalities. That's part of the reason Joss sat down and thought, "I know the perfect show to write for you. ... I've known you for 10 years, and I have no idea who [or] what you are, so ... let's just video it."

But no, it's awesome, it's the coolest, most humbling, and you know, truly great opportunity, experience. Because some parts are more like me, and I can kind of roll out of bed and roll into the outfit and churn them out. And other times, I mean, I've had some serious, ... challenging roles. Like the blind woman. ... They implant cameras into my eyeballs and send me into a cult as a blind woman, like [a] religious cult follower. But I believe that I'm that woman. And so there have been a number of different parts I've played that I've had to do some serious last-minute research on, and it's so fun, you know? ... It makes it all that much more interesting to go in every day and be wild.

What's the funnest thing you've had to do?

Dushku: I loved the fierce assassin that I was when I kicked Tahmoh's ass. She ... was a good egg. She was just ... highly intelligent, ... kind of quiet, but steely. Just, just kind of fierce, yeah.

You've probably read some of the reviews and heard the buzz, positive and negative, about the show. Does any of that come through, or do you try to screen it out?

Dushku: I'm proud of what we're doing, and we ... are doing what we wanted to do and telling the stories we wanted to tell. ... There's been pressure since the day we announced it, and there's been naysayers since the day we announced it, and, at this point, ... I just can't wait for the show to get on the air and for people to see it. ... Regardless of ... the hype and what people are saying, why don't people see it, and then they can decide what they feel? But I feel confident, ... because it's on the page, recorded on the stage, ... and it's working. And we're having a great time. ... Each episode is more and more intricate, and the story's unfolding. ...

I brought the first episodes home to my family to watch over the holidays, and you know what? They were freaking out. ... They were more proud and more psyched about this than most anything that [I've done]. ...