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Eliza Dushku, Faith No More? Part One

The co-star of THE NEW GUY talks BUFFY, TRUE LIES 2... and cheerleading!

By P. MACDOUGAL     May 16, 2002


Season three of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER introduced Eliza Dushku as the rogue slayer Faith
© 1998 The WB
Eliza Dushku is perhaps best known to genre fans as that other slayer on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Dushku's slayer Faith was a counterpoint to Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy for a good part of the show's third season, a tough-fighting, hard-living, take-no-prisoners warrior. Most fans loved her, and her part on the show helped spark her currently thriving feature film career.

Eliza Dushku and DJ Qualls star in THE NEW GUY



Now appearing in the teen comedy THE NEW GUY, the young actress has played several high school age characters in the past couple of years, including a couple of turns as a cheerleader (she also appeared in the popular cheerleader tale BRING IT ON). There's more to this sort of work than just being a pom-pom girl though, and preparing physically for such roles is sometimes as tough as the fight training Dushku had to undergo while on BUFFY.

"I'm kind of a perfectionist," she says. "If I'm going to go out there, I want to learn it so I look good. And I want to do as much as I can as opposed to having stunt doubles do it. Because then I have all my friends here who will go, 'That's not you!' So, I like to be able to say, 'How do you like that? How do you like me now?' The martial arts stuff and the fight stuff is definitely more stunt doubles, because there's just stuff that I can't do. I mean, it takes years and years of training to learn that. But for this you just have to be in good, general physical shape. When I'm on a film I just try and go running and keep up like that."

So the big, bad Faith admits that she can't do everything?! This contrasts strongly with not only the public perception of Dushku's popular character on BUFFY, but also with the actress' own perceived toughness.

Eliza Dushku stars in THE NEW GUY.



"When I was back in school... I was being made fun of so much," she remembers. "In middle school I was terrified when people would make fun of me and I would cry, and my mom says my knuckles would turn white as we rounded the corner of the middle school. Because every single comment just like dug straight in, and I was so vulnerable because of it. And so I went away to private school for a year. And [when] I got back to high school, I just kind of started thinking like, 'I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't.' And so I kind of built up this really tough girl front, basically. And it got me through high school. And I did this whole really hard as nails, like big talker thing."

Interestingly enough, this "tough girl" front lead directly into Dushku's BUFFY experience.

"I actually tried out for BUFFY just after I graduated high school," remembers the actress. "And that really kind of was where I was in my life at that point. I was living it, you know. And I started using it in my entire life. And now... I mean 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. So it's nice... because everyone's like, 'Oh, you're the bad girl.' But, I mean, I'm not."

TRUE LIES



Though she doesn't admit it, there's also the possibility that Dushku gained just a tiny bit of that toughness from working with her co-star in TRUE LIESa fellow named Arnold Schwarzenegger. She co-starred in the 1994 James Cameron film as Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis' daughter, though she says she has no idea whether or not she'll asked back for the often-discussed sequel to the popular picture.

"I've heard a lot [about it] but I sure haven't gotten any phone calls," she laughs. "Yeah, I've heard the rumors, and I don't know. I don't know if they are even planning on [doing it]. I know Arnold and Tom [Arnold] and Jamie are all signed up. God, I loved making the movie. I'd sign up in a second if they put the sheet in front of me. It would be awesome. It would be a lot of fun."

Be sure to check back for part two of our Eliza Dushku interview.

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