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Willow

Eliza Dushku  ('Wrong Turn') Eliza Dushku ('Wrong Turn')
Eliza Dushku was born on December 30, 1980 in Massachusetts and she has been working steady in films since her first role in 1992's 'That Night.' She gained a new group of admirers after her portrayal of the other vampire slayer, Faith, in the WBs 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar, but has also chalked up big screen roles in such films as 'True Lies,' 'Bring It On,' 'The New Guy' and her latest role in 'Wrong Turn'.

Chatting to her now on the set of 'Wrong Turn,' I first wondered that with all the roles she'd played, it seemed that the tough-girl role was the one she was more comfortable with! So, was this a true observation on the whole? "It's interesting because I was thinking about this recently. When I was back in school and I was being made fun of so much it hurt, but I never fought back. In middle school I was terrified when people would make fun of me and I would cry. My mom said my knuckles would turn white. Every single comment dug straight in and I was so vulnerable because of it. So then, I went away to private school for a year and I wanted to go back to high school!"

So, you were caught between a rock and a hard place?! "Yeah, I started thinking like, "I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't." I kind of like built up this really tough girl front basically and it got me through high school. I did this whole 'hard as nails,' big talker thing, and then I actually tried out for "Buffy" just after I graduated high school and that really kind of was where I was in my life at that point. I was living it, you know? I started using it in my entire life!"

Have things changed now that you're older? "Well, now I'm 24 years-old and I've kind of grown into myself and I feel like I've become even a little bit softer because I don't have to have that defense mechanism anymore. It's nice. It's like "You're the bad girl," but I mean, that's not so much where I am now. Do you know what I'm saying?"

So, many of your prior roles have been close-to-home, true-to-life experiences for you then?! "It's like they say, art imitates life and I really feel like that's one of the things - like having your life documented on film - a lot of the characters that I played were really realistic for the times that I was in. I don't know what I'm going to play next but everyone is like, "It's such a stretch for you, playing the nice girl." I'm like, "Not really. I'm actually a lot nicer!"

Did your three brothers make you tough? "Yeah, they toughened me up but at the same time, my parents were divorced when I was a baby so my brothers were very loving and fatherly to me. I used to say my brothers beat me up but when I think about it, they were like my fathers growing up. They really treated me like a princess in so many ways, to compensate for my father or whatever. When you were tortured that much - like I was ostracized in middle school - you remember it. It was so bad and it made me so insecure and so messed up."

Is that why you did this picture, 'Wrong Turn'? "Part of the reason, for sure. You see this movie, it's almost like every body has gone through it, I don't care who you are. I mean, the ostracized elements, the out-on-your-own elements! No neccesarily the being staked by psychos elements!"

Refecting back to your bathing suit modeling scene in the film 'The New Guy,' I was wondering if this embarrassed you at all?! "Oh yeah, totally, especially when I'm half-naked. It was a lot of fun and it was really relaxed and comfortable. Ed's (director Ed Decter) great. Everyone in the cast and crew was great. I know that people say that, but we really did have a good time on the movie. It was a really smooth, fun atmosphere."

Did you have to get into shape for it or where you already there?! "I've always just been really little. My three brothers, they've always hated it because they're guys and they've always wanted to be real beefy and butch, but we're all just very skinny. I think it's my dad, he's just very little. We eat, like all of our friends think we are nuts. The Dushkus eat like it's going out of style. We chow and we'll eat a lot! People ask where it's going. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snacks everyday, all day."

So, you've never had an issue with your body image? "No. Going running makes me feel emotionally better and emotionally healthy. It's so important to me, and just doing yoga."

Does it feel empowering? "Yes, it does. Yeah, absolutely. I do it for the emotional and psychological benefits of it. I'll get depressed if I don't go to the gym for a week, or if I don't do something. You just get slumpy and headaches and tired. That just started happening in the past couple of years. I'm only 24 so when I was young it wasn't a problem, but now, I definitely have to like keep active."

Word has it you had a screen test for 'Spider-Man'! True or false?! "A bit of both actually! It was Tobey's screen-test actually. I worked with Tobey on 'This Boy's Life' and he called me up and was like, "I'm doing this screen-test. I really, really want this role and I need somebody to read with me." He's like, "Will you come in? It'll be fun. It's supposed to be the biggest screen-test of all time. There's going to be some stunt stuff. Would you be down to come in and do that?" I was like, "Absolutely." So I went in. It wasn't really about me so I never really took it all too seriusly on my part. We just went in and we did a couple of scenes and they had him hanging from a rope and doing all this stuff. That was pretty much it."

Is that done often where you help with a screen-test for something that you're not going out for? "If it's for a friend, yeah, totally, definitely."

Interviewed by Frank Mitchell

To read our DVD Review of 'Wrong Turn' just click here and be whisked away !

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