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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Calendar Girl October: Eliza Dushku



Time to catch up on our calendar girls a little and well worth catching up with is SF princess Eliza Dushku.  She is one of those actresses who is hugely well known within her genre but almost totally unknown outside it. 




She is one of those science fiction heroines that come along every now and then to hysterical acclaim within the realms of geekdom. For example, if you went into Forbidden Planet, London's huge SF shop, you could guarantee that everyone there would know who she is (especially leather clad goth chicks) but step outside onto the street and the average Londoner would have no idea.




She is one of those girls who will still have a cult following in thirty years time whatever she does in between because of her career defining role on Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire slayer, where she played bad girl slayer, Faith.  Originally only scheduled to appear in five episodes it was one of those occasions whan an actor grabs hold of a role and pushes it for all its worth.  Her character was so popular (a bad girl who beats people up dressed in black leather popular amonst SF fans, surely not?) that she stayed for the whole series and later took the role across to the spin-off series Angel.




Arguably, none of the actors in Buffy have really made a great success out of what was a hugely popular show.  Most struggled with being identified so strongly with one character for seven series (there is a reason ambitious actors don't like long-standing roles).





Of the female regulars Sarah Michelle Gellar has had years of straight to video (at best) performances. Alyson Hannigan, a good actress handicapped by not being deemed "babe" enough, appeared in the embarrassing American Pie films and has spent most of the last ten years on TV. Charisma Carpenter, who certainly was "babe" enough, has made a reasonable career on TV but isn't exactly a household name. 
 
 
 
 
Of all the actresses in regular roles on the show, you would have put money on Eliza to hit the big time but whilst she headlined two TV series (always a tough thing for an actress to do in Hollywood) both were cancelled after two seasons and she hasn't achieved the breakthrough that Roswell's, Katherine Heigl or Dark Angel's Jessica Alba managed.
 



Dushku was born nearly thirty years ago (her birthday is on December 30th) to an Albanian-descended teacher and a Mormon university professor of Danish and English extraction.  She has the title of a Mormon hymn, "Lead kindly light" tattooed on her left side. The family lived in Waterton, Massachusetts.  Dushku got her first acting role at the age of 13 in  That Night (1993).  The following year she played the teenage daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies (1994).  




She had other roles before concentrating on her school work and was intending to attend Suffolk University, Boston, when she won the role of Faith in Buffy in 1997 and decided to follow an acting career instead.  In 2000 she apppeared with Kirsten Dunst in the cheerleader comedy Bring it On.  Ironically, she was the only major member of the female cast who had not been a cheerleader at school.  But never mind as her famous car wash sequence (above) makes up for it.




When Buffy and then Angel finished she appeared in the new TV show Tru Calling (2003) where she played a mortuary worker who found that dead people spoke to her.  She would then wake up at the beginning of the previous day and have 24 hours to try to prevent them being killed.  In the second series she had to compete with someone whose job was to ensure that history wasn't changed. 


She could raise the dead...


The series had mixed reviews and the TV network didn't even show the final episode after they cancelled it.  She spent much of the series fetchingly running around downtown Vancouver, where the show was filmed.




In 2006 she was invited to visit Albania by it's president (obviously a Buffy fan too) and she got an Albanian double headed Eagle tattooed below her neck while she was out there.  Why do lovely girls keep doing this?


Eliza demonstrates her Allure


A series of largely forgettable films, TV guest appearances and unsuccessful pilots followed.  Fox Broadcasting, at least, still saw potential in her and in 2007 signed a deal with her in which they would work with her to develop new projects.  She appeared in the 2008 thriller The Alphabet Killer where she got good reviews even though the film didn't.  It also contained her first and only (extremely brief and totally gratuitous) topless scene despite her having been quoted in the past as saying: "You have a better chance of seeing God than me naked."  A recent picture in Allure Magazine (above) fortunately shows that she is having second thoughts about this (often the case in actresses approaching thirty).


Eliza delights millions of SF geeks worldwide in the Alphabet Killer


The result of her deal with Fox saw her persuading Joss Whedon to work on another TV series with her (she had turned down a Buffy spin-off Faith, to the disappointment of geeks everywhere), Dollhouse, which she co-produced.  This is about a corporation who keep a stock of people in to whom they can temporarily implant skills so that they can undertake various missions.  Exactly like the Gerry Anderson series Joe 90, really.




It lasted two series before it was cancelled, although at least they managed to tie up all the loose ends of the story.  Variety magazine said of the show that Dushku "does wonderful things to a tank top, but her grasp of this vague, personality-changing character is a bit of a muddle."


Passes the Triple P "does she look good in a vest?" test


Never mind, Dushku fans were delighted to see their heroine dressed in full fetish gear for one episode.  Dushku is currently rumoured to be attached to Ghostbusters III and was trying to develop a film about photographer Robert Mablethorpe.




So, it is make or break time for Eliza.  She really, really needs a hit in TV or film because now that she is nearly thirty Hollywood will soon move on to someone younger (if they haven't already).  Basically action actors (which she certainly is) tend to move into comedy if they want to relaunch their careers.  Both Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Garner have done this.  Her fans won't like it but maybe she needs a slushy romcom.




We have always like Eliza and wish her well as her significant birthday looms.


Shake it, Eliza shake it!

1 comment:

  1. Did you know Eliza and Katherine Heigl both had their first roles in the same movie - That Night in 1992.

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