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Q&A: Eliza Dushku

The actress on getting into fighting shape (literally) for Banshee

The dark, action-packed Cinemax series Banshee is now in its final season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any surprises left. For its final episodes, the show recruited actress Eliza Dushku (of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer series and Dollhouse)to join in the expertly choreographed, delightfully dangerous fun. Here, Dushku discusses taking a break from college to joinBanshee and explains the decidedly non-Hollywood direction in which she’s headed.

You’ve been in college in Boston, what made you decide to take on the additional work of a TV series?

I am a lucky woman. I was called personally by [Banshee creator] Jonathan Tropper, who said that he had a character for whom he had me in mind. He told me about her, and I got very excited. Then he sent me some scenes that he had written for her and I got even more excited. She’s amazing; her name is Veronica Dawson and she’s an FBI profiler and violent crimes agent. She comes to Banshee to investigate a serial killer, but no one comes to Banshee without some serious skeletons in their closet. She’s got them, and they slowly come out.

Banshee is known for its insane fight scenes. Do you get to be part of that action, and if you do is it absolutely terrifying?

Yes! And over my career, I feel like I’ve had enough training that I’m pretty confident that I’m going to be kicking some ass.

Good, I’m sure you’ll be totally deadly.

Well, when I started, I had my freshman 15. I was not in my fighting shape, but they had an amazing group of trainers built into the show, so all you had to do as schedule a time and show up. And the stunt coordinator Marcus Young was one of the first vampires I staked on Buffy back in the day apparently. 

Has it whet your appetite to try to do more of this sort of thing? What you can fit in between classes?

I liked the schedule of cable’s summer schedule. I was done just in time to get back and start fall classes. Everyone was sort of asking me, “Are you quitting acting,” and I was not quitting, but I’d been wanting to go to school. I have other interests and I’ve always wanted to explore them, but my career kind of took me in a different direction. It’s a priority for me to really get into school, and it’s hard to do both.  People might think [acting is] a good reason to miss school, but my teachers don’t. My teachers are like, “Yeah that’s great, but you want that A don’t you?”

What’s the dream gig after graduation?

I’m interested in addiction and recovery work. There’s just such an epidemic—a pandemic, really—going on with drug- and alcohol-related deaths and I see it everywhere. I see it in my own communities in Los Angeles and in Boston. It’s devastating. I want to be more qualified to do work in that field.