Dollhouse Season 2 Interviews

Dollhouse is released on October 11th, I will have a review up for season 2 this weekend.

here are some promotional  interviews with Joss Whedon and Eliza Dushku:

QUESTION: In what way is it changing this season?

JOSS WHEDON: This season we’re taking a few of the things that — you know, we looked at last season and with a fond farewell, and then we weren’t cancelled. Then we sort of basically took what we loved and then added the thing that we thought it needed.  We loved the sense of identity and the questions about identity.  We loved obviously the cast and wanted to push them as far as we could go.  The big changes are, there was a real sense that there was no family or no sort of center to the show last year and that’s something we’re addressing this season.  Alliances are being formed and Echo herself is increasing cognizance in life real quickly. That’s something that I would have dragged out for a super long time.  But it became clear last season that when people look at Eliza no matter what she is playing; they want her to be active not inactive.  And so we sort of gotten her to take further steps since the Omega event with Alpha in last season with her towards being a more active and actualized person and people have responded to that real well so far.  And we also sort of threw out some of our restrictions.  I had originally not wanted to cast any people that I was associated with because I wanted to make this show its own thing.  This year I’m like, “They’re my friends and it is a time-saving device so let’s just get them.”  And we live with less fear.  We don’t have to worry about being a hit because it ain’t going to happen.  But all we have to worry about is, is the audience compelled and are we following through on the questions we’re asking?  Because the one thing we felt ourselves last year was because some aspects of the show made some of the top brass uncomfortable, we ended up sort of sugar-coating them.  This show has to be a little bit uncompromising and now everybody’s on board with that.  If anybody saw last Friday’s episode it’s super dark.  And yet people thought there was real catharsis and strength in what is going on.  It wasn’t just dark on its own sake.

QUESTION: If you work for TV after this one will it be for FX or a small, cable network?  It must be tough for you, right?

JOSS WHEDON: It’s sort of a surprising fact that when a show does really well the network tends to get their hands in there more.  If the show is kind of veering and the network thinks it needs direction.  Our show? We found a groove.  It’s a little groove, we have our fan base, and there are some other people out there.  It’s not big enough and we hope to increase it so that we can stay on the air, but we’re also realistic about it. But, when you are down here flying under the radar the network is a little more like, “You do your thing.”  You would like more of them to respond. Whereas when they have a hit on their hands — and this isn’t about FOX, this is every network — they tend to micromanage more because they are desperate to protect it


JOSS WHEDON: As for me, you know, I came to FOX because of Eliza.  I worked with FOX Studios; it has always been a pleasure for me.  I have been with them my entire creative life practically, but working on the major network is different.  And I think there’s definitely a disconnect between what “Dollhouse” is and what the network wants.  “Dollhouse” is a show that I didn’t think of as edgy, but things changed a lot since I made “Firefly.” (Laughter.)   The thing is there’s no place that I don’t like working if you find the communication.  The restrictions of working on a show sometimes – and this was the case with “Buffy” – sometimes cause you to be more creative about saying something that’s dark and challenging and still get it in there as opposed to just being able to do whatever you want.

QUESTION: It used to be that networks would allow shows to have an incubation period and now it seems it’s much more do or die up front.  What do you think has changed that?

JOSS WHEDON: Everything has changed.  This has been — actually I feel we’re a little bit rolling back to the incubation years with some of the smarter executives because ultimately, yes, television got into an opening weekend mentality that works in the movies but it doesn’t make sense in television, but they got into it.  It’s like if something didn’t hit right away, they pull the plug on it.  Now that there’s DVD, that there’s streaming, that there’s all sort of other revenue sources and there are different ways to measure the success of something, we don’t actually know how many people watch “Dollhouse” for a couple of weeks because of the DVR numbers, stuff like that.  People are a little more careful in general I think — it got into that everything has become, “Is it a franchise?”  “Do we own all of it?”  “How can we consolidate more?”  None of that of course is good for storytellers, but in the case of “Dollhouse” we — right off the bat we’re not doing huge numbers.  We were building on the lead-in so there is something going on, but we never and, you know, we never really gave them what they expected.  I don’t really think anybody is at fault there.  But they stuck with it and even through this season where we’ve been declining.  We’re still over two million, which is very important to me so I can say, “We’re entertaining millions of people.” (Laughter.) I don’t want to say, “We are entertaining a million and hundreds of thousands of people.”  It doesn’t have the same ring to it.  So if we can stay over two million I’m happy but, again, they’ve been nurturing in this instance and I think you are going to see more of that again.

QUESTION: You use quite a bit of Brits on your shows and you work with production companies in the U.K.  What is the appeal of the British actors and production?

JOSS WHEDON: You know, I grew up wishing I was British. (Laughter.) Watching masterpiece theater, swiveling tea and thinking that was all that.  I really was reading Jane Austen, Dickens and I — it came from my mother she was a huge Anglophile and Monty Python, everything that I could get my hands on.  That was most of my childhood was the BBC. And at 15 I went to high school there for three years and screaming back to America, it was weird.  I’m a dichotomist.  But I really do love — I love — I feel very, very much at home in England and I feel very – as much as I ever do anywhere.  And I often don’t try to write towards British, but then somebody British will come in and the sides I’ve written or the scenes I’ve written and I will go, “Oh, that’s why that wasn’t working, because I wrote it for him.”  It’s very weird because I feel like I have my own sort of patois, in fact I get slammed for it sometimes.  It’s Joss Whedon writing, but then sometimes it just comes out really well if you are British.  So, you know, I just — there’s a connection there that is a part of who I am.

QUESTION: You put some Asian taste at the “Dollhouse” office, how does it come, the idea?

JOSS WHEDON: Well, partially for me and partially for my wife who lived in China for a year and a half and she also studied abroad in Japan for half a year. She and I both share a love of Asian culture and aesthetics and when I was designing the “Dollhouse,” even before I had Steward Black who was the production designer, my wife is an architect, therefore, I have license to buy all the books that I want on Interior Design and Architecture. And what I was looking for from the “Dollhouse” was a place that was very, very organic and comforting.  So I looked at spas to a large extent.  I also looked at a lot of interesting cutting edge architectural stuff that I saw was in some of my Asian books including the beds on the floor, I had found that there was a whole system of trap doors with bedroom and bathrooms in this one place that I’d found.  I’m fascinated again with “Firefly.”  I’m fascinated with vertical space with things moving differently than just sort of flat across.  I got very tired of “Buffy” Star Trek-esque caves with are all perfectly flat camera dolly-able floors on them.  And so we were looking for something that evoked in anybody’s mind a sense of peace and spas were our main sort of focus, but also just sort of the Zen moment as a thing that you can be creating anywhere in the place since these people were just an embodiment of spirit, they were just living as in the sensation.  We wanted to make sure the sensation they felt was very comforting, controlling, different messages at once but also very comforting and very natural.

QUESTION: Season 1 had a lot on the DVD; a lot of added value content especially Episode 13. Is there anything we can look forward to on Season 2 for DVD?

JOSS WHEDON: I think they are going to air them this time. (Laughter.) You know, we’re trying to pump out the shows.  We’re hoping to get some new content in there, but we haven’t really fixated on them…because the show is lower profile.  But we’d like to get some more in there.  Thank you.


QUESTION: Can you tell us about your dress?  It is very interesting.

ELIZA DUSHKU: You know, I wanted to get dressed up for the international press! Sort of an appreciation for the other places in the world.  For the U.S. press I do T-shirt and jeans.  But it is Phillip Lim so I gave a little bit of flavor.

QUESTION: It looks like you are really good at — it’s interesting because of the show as well yourself, you could have been in and out of your character.  There is almost the actress and the girl and it is almost impossible to recognize you if you are not wearing the makeup and the hair and everything; right?


QUESTION: Do you do that on purpose?

ELIZA DUSHKU: You know, I’ve sort of always — I’ve just sort of always been a mimic and deep down there’s this tomboy in me.  There’s the young woman that sort of started discovering hair and makeup and dresses and how to be girlie and feminine and that’s fun.  Then I sort of experienced the celebrity element and the red carpet and the glamour and I know how to play that role.  Once I sort of pick something up and absorb a few of the details I usually sort of chameleon in and out of different people, yeah.

QUESTION: The character was perfect for you?

ELIZA DUSHKU: Yeah, sort of came from a four-hour lunch with me.  Joss went, “You’re a lot of people.”  And I think he also noticed that more often than not I was sort of being cast as the leather pants tough girl, you know, really sort of my guard was up and that was where I came from in a way.  Coming out of high school I did “Buffy” right away and I was in that tough fiercely protective, I’ll kick anyone’s butt that tries to scrutinize me or tell me who to be or put me in a box. And as I have recovered from high school every year, I’m a little more open about playing different characters and playing vulnerable characters and playing characters that, you know, can be beat down as well as doing the beating.

QUESTION: And which of these characters are you playing on the show are you more comfortable with?  And which one are you uncomfortable with?

ELIZA DUSHKU: It depends.  It definitely depends.  I think absolutely there is a level of trust with Joss and the cast and the crew even that we’ve had with on the show both seasons because I feel comfortable going those places and going to some of the more vulnerable, raw places and when I don’t feel entirely comfortable, it’s — you’re more likely to get the bold, the strong, the resistant person.  So when I’m in my comfort zone I can be quite lovely.

QUESTION: So it seems like you have a lot of action scenes.


QUESTION: How do you prepare?

ELIZA DUSHKU: Gusto, baby.  I just step up to the line and I hate — I remember in the “Buffy” days I used to watch the fight scenes on TV after we shot them and every time my stunt double was in I thought everyone could notice that it was not me as much as I could.  So I wanted to do as much as I could so I didn’t see that wig flipping around. (Laughter.) I wanted to climb in.  And also it is so much fun, you know, it’s great stress reliever to just beat the bag out of someone on a Monday morning.  And it’s just — it’s physical.  You get your endorphins going.  I’m a competitive kid.  I did grow up with brothers, and so it beats sitting behind a desk or playing sort of the same character every day.  It switches it up.  How do I prepare?  I just show up and I take direction.

QUESTION: The girl on “Dollhouse” does every single scene all the time.  Do you think when that show is gone you will look for a “CSI” small part or something like that?

ELIZA DUSHKU:  No, I don’t think so.

QUESTION: Do you enjoy that kind of tension?

ELIZA DUSHKU: I enjoy it.  I mean, sure there are times where I’m exhausted.  There are times where I sort of miss my life and I don’t get to travel as much as I would like or be an aunty to my niece and nephew; I’m busy.  But I also am well aware after having been in this business for 18 years that, you know, that you kind of have to strike while the iron is hot and the iron feels pretty hot right now.  So work now, rest what I’m dead.

QUESTION: How is the show evolving this year?

ELIZA DUSHKU: The first season we really built up the Dollhouse.  We showed a lot of the glitz and the glamour of the engagement.  And we showed the motorcycle rides and the dancing and the laughing and the fun.  And, of course, with that, with the Dollhouse is fun; there is actually the flip side, which is the pain and the moral dilemmas.  And this year when we find Echo she’s absolutely started to absorb things from, from not just the engagement, but things in the Dollhouse and she is remembering things in the past as Caroline.  She’s is becoming — I say become — we’re  shooting the 10th Episode of the season; now she’s her own character.  And everyone around her in turn is also reacting and growing and regressing because of that. And so we’ve really sort of built up the Dollhouse in the first season.  And the cracks are starting to show and it is sort of crumbling down in a lot of ways, and we still have these different engagements.  I think this week I go into GI Jane combat mode and I infiltrate a big military group.  But when I come back to the house the relationship with Fran and with Adele and Harry and with Paul has gotten so much more layered because Echo isn’t just a dumb doll now.  Instead of people saying, I like broccoli, she is feeling and expressing and also figuring out who she can trust.  She is toying with people and everyone is sort of toying with each other. So the Dollhouse has gotten pretty frightening.

QUESTION: So is there going to be less emphasis on the engagements that she is going out on?

ELIZA DUSHKU: The engagements are still there, but her conduct in or around them is what starts to change.  The glitching takes on a whole different level because the glitching is actually, you know, each time everywhere she is going in a way she’s thinking of ways to bring down the Dollhouse which is a problem in itself for the higher-ups.

QUESTION: A lot of shows now especially ones involving Joss Whedon have two lives: There is the show and there is the DVD.


QUESTION: And do you find now that — are you doing stuff within the production of “Dollhouse” that is specifically geared towards DVD or is it all after the fact?

ELIZA DUSHKU: I don’t really know because I feel like we, of course, make the show for the viewers and the fans first and foremost.  And I think — I don’t think we’re favoring the DVD with the stuff but I think with all Joss’s shows what is so fascinating about them and what sort of feeds the fan craze is that there are nuances in every show.  And there are — you can watch the show three times and pick something up each time you watch it from the characters or from the sets or from, you know, little things that, yes, Joss probably does to get into people or get people thinking and coming, breaking off into big, giant theories about world corruption.

QUESTION: What about the relationship between Echo and FBI agent?

ELIZA DUSHKU: It is not unsexy.  It’s pretty… just wait and see.  There was a chemistry there and last season he spent the entire season trying to get into the “Dollhouse” now that he is in and he’s Echo’s handler, you have to use your imagination until you see what happens. Thank you.  Good to see you.  Take care.

GS Reporter:Kelly

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