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Feature: Buffy and Angel

Bad Girl Does Good

Slway away…

We celebrate the return of Faith, Buffy’s rogue Slayer who has been off our screens for too long, and look at the work of actress Eliza Dushku, who plays her.

There’s no mistaking her – the huge, soulful eyes, the streetwise attitude, the husky drawl peppered with her own darkly sarcastic wit, the wicked way with a crossbow – it could only be the second most-beloved Vampire Slayer in the world – Faith. In the Buffy universe, we know that no one is altogether good, no one is altogether bad, and no one – even vampires who impale people on railway spikes – is irredeemable. No one represents this better than Faith. From her very introduction she was a cause of worry – a New Slayer thrown up in the turmoil after Buffy’s first ‘death’ – an almost impossibly-skilled fighter who couldn’t quite control her powers and took a human life. This act affected Faith badly, and seeking answers, she eventually turned completely rogue and fell in with Sunnydale’s monstrous Mayor Wilkins in his insane plot for demonic immortality. I think Joss Whedon must have an exceedingly special place in his heart for Faith, and her protracted absence from the Buffy and Angel storylines has little to do with the viability of the character and everything to do with the success of actress Eliza Dushku who has played her since Buffy’s third season.

So mature was her performance that it’s incredible to believe that Dushku was only 18 when she started Buffy. “When I tried out for Buffy after graduating from school, that was where I was in my life then. I did this hard-as-nails big talker thing,” she says. A Boston native of Albanian and Danish parents (both are College professors) Dushku grew up in a strict Mormon household and consequently suffered at the hands of bullies. “I don’t care who you are, everyone has been through it – that feeling where you’d like to be someone else,” she says. “High school, with all those girls trying to be cool – they compare it to prison and I’m with them all the way.” Dushku played a cheerleader in Bring It On with Kirsten Dunst, but although she had studied jazz, tap and ballet, had difficulty getting through the complex dance moves. “I grew up playing football with my brothers so I’m not the most graceful person, and I had to work with the choreographer on the cheerleader routines,” she laughs. “I had to have special ‘Eliza days’ when all the other girls had gotten it weeks before.”

The actress has constantly been trying to take time out to complete her education, but her efforts are frustrated by a series of worthwhile, high-profile film roles with the most acclaimed up-and-coming young stars and some of Hollywood royalty. “Each year, I say I’m going to go to school next year,” the actress told E Online. “It’s inevitable that I’ll end up getting my education. But I love working – I’m a worker bee at heart. It’s such a stimulus. When I’m not doing anything, that’s when I’m freaking out. I get neurotic and analytical and like, ‘I need a shrink!’ I’m trying to figure it out.”

by Martin Ellis

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May 2003
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