Eliza Dusku on 'Jane Wants a Boyfriend,' 'Buffy' and Going Back to College

Photo Credit: FilmBuff
March 25th, 2016


Eliza Dushku has been a beautiful and talented actress ever since her career started 25 years ago with films like True Lies and Bring it On. Even more impressive is the TV shows she has been apart of including the huge Joss Whedon hit, Buffy, where she starred as Faith. Her new film, Jane Wants a Boyfriend, is a touching drama that centers around a young woman with Asperger's Syndrome who struggles to find love. Eliza plays Jane’s sister, Bianca, who must teeter back and forth between following her dreams and protecting her sister. Eliza was kind enough to sit down with TheMovieNetwork.com to tell us all about her new film that comes out March 25th in theaters on On Demand.


Nick Leyland from TMN: Well, I got to see your new film Jane Wants a Boyfriend and it goes a lot deeper than just a 20 something year old girl who wants a boyfriend, that's for sure.

Eliza Dushku: Indeed. Indeed, I think so too.

TMN: Were you nervous at all about doing a film about someone with a condition like Asperger's, making sure that it was done the right way and it wasn't offensive in any way? 

Eliza Dushku: Oh. Absolutely. Of course, because if you don't do it right, you run the risk of offending not just someone, a number of people and that was certainly the farthest thing from what we were wanting to do so we... The casting process was pretty elaborate and it was a really fast indie shoot but I'm really proud of what we came out with, and Louisa Krause is just, I think extraordinary and brave to do that role. It's really incredible to hear the response from people who have family members on the autism spectrum or with Asperger's saying, "We really feel you made us a really honest representation."

FilmBuff

(Eliza Dushku and Louisa Krause in Jane Wants a Boyfriend)

TMN: Were you pretty knowledgeable about this condition before you took the role? Did you become a lot more aware of what these people go through on a daily basis? 

Eliza Dushku: Yes, I was knowledgeable about it. I have a number of people that are really close to me that have this neurodevelopmental disorder. But I still think that after doing the project I learned a lot, you know.

We had a consultant on the film, a gentlemen that works at Autism Speaks, Kerry Magro, and we just were exposed to a lot more of the autism awareness movement. April 2nd is coming up which is Autism Awareness Day. We're all taking part in the social media Light it up Blue initiative. And so yeah, it's a really great thing, we get to make our art and also, hopefully, positively affect these people that deserve to have this light shine on them in a positive way.

TMN: What were some of the scenes in the film that you really liked?

Eliza Dushku: There were so many things. [chuckle] I loved the story between these two sisters. I grew up with three brothers. I've never had a sister but Louisa was the best actress to play opposite in this role and I felt like we really were able to establish this genuine trust early on. And so we both found ourselves in, as you can see in the movie, some really raw and vulnerable scenes. And even for me as an actress that's a different kind of role for me that I'm not playing the super tough girl but playing this raw and vulnerable young woman. I loved the love story between Jane and Jack. And I am Gabriel Ebert's, I would say I'm his biggest fan but I know that he's just cruising through this business at this point. This is his first time acting on film.

Eliza Dushku: He was formerly just a theater actor. He was shooting our movie and starring in Matilda on Broadway, which he won a Tony for at the same time, and he's just he's so incredible. And I loved how he brought Jack to life, and that dynamic between the two of them is just so beautiful. Amir, I thought, had a difficult role of sort of representing some... The reality is he represents some of the audience, I'm sure. And a reality for people in his not knowing the right thing to say, not knowing how to feel, wanting to support everyone and love everyone, and he gets jabbed at by everyone. The dynamics in the movie were so... And the script by Jarret Kerr was just really remarkable, and then we all, I thought, brought the characters to a really special place together.

TMN: Yeah. I really did, I liked the characters, and I liked your character because you were almost this loving antagonist character. I can't really describe it. Because both characters, you and Jane, you sympathize with both, with both sides. Usually, in most movies that I see you end up hating somebody, but in this movie, that's not the case.

Eliza Dushku: Yeah. No. I agree with you actually. And when I first saw the script, actually, there was a part of me that felt like I just hated Bianca. I just thought she was mean, and impatient, and just this horrible controlling sister and it was important to me that we found that balance with her, that she really has this arc of starting and having her be loving in the beginning as well, but seeing really why she acts the way she does and then what changes in her that makes her come to accept and respect Jane. And in the end, I just loved that moment where she says, "Now my new husband is leaving, and I would really love it if you would come stay with me." Not to spoil the movie, but basically, when she asks for her help by the end when for so long she's been the helper and the caretaker. Everyone needs taking care of in a way, sometimes.

TMN: And plus, you got to be an actor playing an actor, so it was probably like doing two movies at the same time, right? 

Eliza Dushku: That was crazy 'cause I have never done Shakespeare. Joss (Whedon), we used to do these like Shakespeare nights at his house when we were shooting Buffy, and I think I went to one night and I was like, "Yeah, nah. I can't do this."

[laughter]

Eliza Dushku: He used to make fun of me for that. And lo and behold, here I was playing Titania in Midsummer Night's Dream, and it was terrifying but wonderful too. And again, something I've never done on film. So that actually made me feel perhaps even more vulnerable at times than the gut wrenching scene.

[laughter]

TMN: Well, what style of film do you love acting in the best in? Drama, action, sci-fi? Is there one that you feel most comfortable with? 

Eliza Dushku: Oh my gosh. It's just hard to pick favorites. I'm so ridiculously grateful for the last 25 years. Yes, it's been 25 years since my first film. And I look back at all the different roles, and it's hard to pick a favorite. But this one is absolutely really so special to me.

TMN: Speaking of your whole career, you've done so many awesome shows, Angel, Buffy, all these shows. If you could bring one back to start up again, which one would you bring back do you think? 

Eliza Dushku: Someone asked me today if Joss ever wanted to bring back the Faith in Buffy world, would you do it? And I said, "If it was Joss, I've said before, and I'll say it again. I'd follow that man anywhere if he invited me." He's been so good to me, and God, I'm so appreciative of him and appreciate him for everything, all the opportunities he's given me.

TMN: Well, my last question for you is, just because I'm curious, if you weren't an actress, what do you think you would be? 

Eliza: Well, funny you should ask. I'm back in school right now. The last year and a half, I've been back in university in Boston, and I'm studying sociology, so I'm looking to get into integrative therapy and likely addiction and recovery work.

TMN: Wow. Good for you. What sparked that? 

Eliza Dushku: I never wanted to be an actor, truth be told. I tripped and fell at my brother's audition when I was nine. I've loved, and as I say, I can't say it enough, been so grateful for all these opportunities. And of course, there's a huge part of me that really loves it, and loves the work, and loves the creative process, and yet, my mother was a college professor for almost five decades, and I always wanted to go to college. And I was enrolled in school when I was hired to do, Buffy and it was supposed to be three episodes and it turned into... They asked me to stay for the season, so I withdrew from school, and moved out to LA. And it took me 15 years, but I decided now is as good a time as any to get back to Boston and go to school. And I had a 4.0 from my freshman year, so I'm feeling strong.

[laughter]

Eliza Dushku: Between school and acting and feeling the Bern, and a few other plates I have spinning in the air keep me really busy and it's just been a really good time. I love this movie. I really hope people get out in the 10 cities where it's being released, and see the film or watch them VOD, and have a little slice of awareness maybe they didn't have before seeing it.