Think Dollhouse can't get any trashier or more twisted? Eliza Dushku has some news for you. In a conference call with reporters, she talked slashers, sorority girls... and breastfeeding? And you only think you know what Dollhouse is about. Spoilers...
You don't know Dollhouse!
You think you know what Joss Whedon's show is about: Dushku plays Echo, a girl whose mind has been erased so that rich people (and occasional pro bono clients) can have her customized to be whatever, and whoever, they want. But the second season, which started last Friday, is totally different.
This time around, Echo will be dealing with all the lingering effects of having all her personalities downloaded into her. And as you saw last Friday, Echo will be experiencing a lot more "flash backs" to her other imprints. Sometimes these will be by accident, sometimes Echo will be in control of it. But Echo will be figuring out how to use this for her own advantage, as she tries to gather a new family of people she can trust around her.
Dushku says that Echo will be becoming self-aware, but as Echo, not as her "original" personality, Caroline. And in fact, as she learns more "unsavory" stuff about Caroline, or just things that are "not Echo," she'll question whether she really wants to be Caroline after all. "She is getting farther and farther away from Caroline," Dushku says of Echo. "You'll absolutely see a new Echo this season."
And that was more fun for Dushku to play, since she doesn't just alternate between the "dumbed down doll" state and whichever personality she's taking on this week. Instead, we always know there's more going on with Echo than we see on the surface, and that makes her more grounded — and more fun to play. Echo is constantly pulling from her past imprints and processing and making sense of stuff, and evolving her own ethics and morals.
When the pieces start to fall apart, and she starts to be taken over by a memory that she can't control, I think it's difficult. and there's that processing going on, and there's that authentic self that's holding on, and that's keeping her from completely losing it and completely being controlled by the personalities [she's pulling from. And that kind of] deeper work for me is sort of more interesting and more challenging to play.
We'll also learn more of the Dollhouse's backstory, discover more of the other Dollhouses around the world, and find out how some of the other Dolls came to this point.
According to Dushku, this Friday's episode is the "mommy" episode, and it was one of the hardest personalities for her to take on, since she's never been a mom. "Trying to tap into that maternal instinct was difficult, but a thrill," she says. And she hinted there will be breastfeeding involved, which sounds like it might be beyond even Topher's proven ability to create physiological as well as mental traits. "Mommy was definitely harder than serial-killer sorority girl." How does Echo wind up being imprinted as a serial killer? Dushku explains: "Episode 3, I start out as a college girl, but when the imprint goes haywire, it's more serial killer than soriority girl."
Summer Glau joins the cast:
The invincible Summer Glau has already filmed two episodes, and Dushku says they're just about to start working on episode seven. As we've mentioned, Glau plays a programmer, and Dushku mentioned she works at the Washington, DC Dollhouse. We'll learn a bit more about how things work differently at the other Dollhouses. And Glau's character has some backstory with Echo, which means Glau and Dushku have to fight. (Physically, it sounds like.) Glau "came in with her 'A' game" and they've had a great time filming together, says Dushku.
Echo Is Ophelia
We were curious to hear if Dushku felt like Dollhouse was a metaphor for the experience of being an actor in L.A., where people want you to fulfill their fantasies, and don't mind erasing you as a person in the process. She felt like the show is more like a parable of women's experiences in general:
[It] also translates to young women all over the world. And I remember my mother... I was the only girl in a family of three boys, [so] she did extensive reading. She read a book called Reviving Ophelia, about adolsecent girls, and the way young women were broken down in their early teens, [when] they're starting to get hit from all sides, from the media, and images, and the men in their life, and their peers, and everything starts to change and the spirit of young women is so fragile, and can be toyed with and broken. And my mother was really aware of that and tried to fight against that, and tried to teach me to sort of stand in my authentic self, and be comfortable in my skin, and with all of that research that she did, and applying it, it's still haunting me. And it's still, at times in my life, [people] have wounded me [and] have come close to breaking me. And so when I sat talking about that stuff to Joss... it's so extraordinary that he accented that in such a profound and intelligent way, that I can't think of anybody else that gets that, and can create an entire fantasy show that encompasses such a universal and serious thing in our society. And so yes, it's absolutely parallel to me, and I also feel, to women all over the world.
Dollhouse airs this Friday, Oct. 2, and the following Friday, Oct. 9. (And then Oct. 16, it gets preempted for a baseball game.)