Joss Whedon: “Echo’s Kind of a Life Coach”

by admin on December 11, 2008

Total Sci Fi have an interview with Dollhouse creator, Joss Whedon, where he talks about the origins of the show, how the series will strive to reflect the human condition, the writing process and building an ensemble around Eliza Dushku’s “Echo”. May contain very mild spoilers depending upon your disposition:

What’s Dollhouse about?

It’s about a girl trying to figure out who she is, while she’s imprinted with every personality you can imagine. It’s about acting, living, being a woman, being everything. Let me put it this way – when I thought it up and launched it at Eliza [Dushku, who executive produces with Whedon and plays main character Echo], the first thing she said was, “Oh, my God, it’s my life!” And she meant mostly as an actress, but then we realized it didn’t just mean that.

It’s a metaphor for everybody. If it isn’t, you’re missing something. The idea is, we all have certain assumptions about who we are, based on what we were told when we were little and what we think we’re supposed to do. And we have a lot of assumptions about what is good, and what about us is not good, and what’s sinful and what’s saintly, and we’re often wrong about all of them. Dollhouse is basically about breaking all that down and exploring it and finding out what it really means to be a human being.

How did Dollhouse come into being?

To me, Eliza is like watching a meteor shower. I’m just amazed. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I’ve known her for 10 years. She’s always been a star. But being a star and being a human being are two very different things. And over the 10 years, we’ve spent time becoming friends, but I’ve also watched her deliberately and painfully take control of her career and the way in which it’s going, the things she is portraying, and you don’t see that a lot.

I see it with Felicia Day doing The Guild on the internet, saying, “Nobody’s going to make my way, so I’ll make my own way,” and Felicia is smart enough to pull that off. The two of them share that. Eliza – when I first sat her down, years ago, to say, “Stop making bad movies!” she said, “We don’t set out to make them bad – I don’t know what to tell you.” But we talked about her agency, her choices. And it was a bleak landscape.

I seem to be the guy who spends his life saying how hard it is for beautiful young women – but it ishard to be an ingénue in this town. We got together a few years later, [but the people around her] insisted she do the big-budget thing, so nobody wanted to know what Eliza thought, except Eliza.

And when we got together for lunch this time, she was like, “I’ve made a deal, I don’t expect to write or control a show, but I do need to control the quality of what I’m doing and the image of what I am, and I want to make meaningful, decent, political, feminist, real, fun, sexy, interesting TV.” Those were all on her list. And I said, “There’s only one man for that job!” [laughs]

In the course of the conversation, the idea of Echo came to me from that exact thing. The story of Dollhouse is the story of somebody trying to figure out who she is while everybody tells her what they want her to be. That is the story of Eliza Dushku, and watching Eliza do that has been one of the great joys of my career. She’s always been an intellectual equal. She’s always been a seeker. I’m still trying to figure myself out.

That’s another point of the show, is that the people who control the Actives, the dolls, are just as much in need of understanding what they are as the dolls.

Read entire interview here.

Nice interview, even if it seems like I’ve read the same thing 1000 times already. Maybe it’s just me, but whilst Whedon seems to be doing the right thing in lowering expectations for the show (in general), he continues to ‘talk up’ the talents of Eliza Dushku (and has done for as a long as I’ve been running this blog). Whilst I’m sure she’s a fine actress, it might be a good idea to start directing some of the focus towards the rest of the cast, especially in the current climate of doom and gloom? You know, spread the pressure out a lil’ bit? That said, I’m looking forward to watching her portrayal of Echo – if Whedon’s right, she should be well worth watching.

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