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(Total Movie And Entertainment, September, 2002)
  City by the Sea star Eliza Dushku talks about De Niro, Maguire and the time she clocked Sarah Michelle Gellar.
As a little girl growing up on movie sets, Eliza Dushku would sneak away from her tutors and roam the backlot in search of adventure. "They'd usually find me hanging out with the Teamsters and causing trouble," she laughs. "I was a total menance." Ten years later, nothing's changed. Check out Dushku's hell-raising performances as Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which she laid claim to the title of primetime's toughest chick, or her surpassingly nasty turn as Missy, the cynical cheerleader in Bring it On, and there's no denying that Dushku is extremely good at being very, very bad. What's the secret of her excess? "I'm self-confident and not afraid to speak my mind," says the 21-year-old actress. "I think that comes from being raised in Boston by three older brothers and a very strong and empowering single mom."
Dushku's Mormon grandmother is no pushover either. A few years ago, grandma caught an episode of "Buffy" in which Eliza's character tears off her shirt and makes hot monkey love to the nebbish Xander (Nicholas Brendon.) Incensed, granny phoned Dushku's agent, Mike Ovitz, and screamed "My granddaughter is naked on TV and she's only 17! You better do something about it!" laughs Eliza. "She completely freaked everyone out. Now I tell her not to watch - especially if I'm doing something rated R. I told her that R stands from Repels Mormons."
Which is a shame, because it means that Grandma will miss Eliza's gritty performance in the new Warner Bros film City by the Sea. A true story based on an article penned by late Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Mike McAlary, the film stars Robert De Niro as Vincent LaMarca, a new York detective who uncovers evidence linking his estranged son Joey (James Franco) to a murder case. Dushku, who recently starred in The New Guy, Soul Survivors and Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back, plays Joey's junkie girlfriend Gina, a struggling-to-stay sober teen mother. "I smoked a lot of cigarettes and tried to get ratty for the role," she says. "They'd tell me 'Don't wash your hair, get some zits.' It was like I had to become a crackhead without doing crack."
The film reunites Dushku with De Niro and director Michael Caton-Jones, whom she worked with on 1993's This Boy's Life. "I haven't seen De Niro since I was 11," says Dushku. "Back then I was a little brat running around kicking him in the shins. So when he saw me this time, he was like (imitating De Niro), 'Oh now, she's back and she's bigger."

Did working with De Niro feel different this time around?
Oh yeah. The intimidation factor was much higher. There's this powerful presence when he's in the room. To be honest, it can be kind of nerve-wracking. You don't want to mess up your lines when you're around him (laughs.) He played my father in 'This Boy's Life' and he still had those paternal instincts, which was kind of funny.

Did he give you any fatherly advice?
At Christmas time, I was dating a somewhat older man, who sent me a bunch of books as a gift. So I turned to De Niro and Caton-Jones and said, "Look at this. He's a real man, not an immature kid. He sent me books - isn't that fabulous?" And they were like, "Whatever. Tell us what books he sent you." So I said, "Well, he sent me 'The Portrait of Dorian Gray', and De Niro said, (imitating him) 'What's that about?'" And I said, "He also sent me 'The Sun Also Rises', and De Niro goes "Oh please.'" And then I said, "He also sent me 'The Agony and the Ecstasy,'" and De Niro said, "Yeah, he fuckin' wishes."


Is it true that you didn't know who De Niro was when you first met?
I had no idea and neither did my mother.


How is that possible?
We weren't exactly a family of film buffs. She's a political science professor at Suffolk University in Boston and was never really into movies. Growing up, we only went to the theater twice - once to see 'Amadeus' and the other to see 'The Gods Must be Crazy'. We didn't have a TV in the living room and all my friends thought we were kind of weird. When they'd come over, my mom wanted to talk to them about current events and they were always like, "Dude, your mom is so... different."

Did that embarrass you?
Not at all. My parents split when I was born and my mother raised four kids by herself. Because of her, we got to experience the world firsthand. She would take groups of students to different countries and always brought one of us along, so by the time I was 10 years old, my brothers and I had each been to Russia, China, Nicaragua and several other countries. I've always had so much respect for my mother and the things that she does and how she's helped so many people. She's just the smartest, coolest, most knowledgeable person I know. I so want to be like her.

Have you thought about a life beyond acting?
Definitely. I really want to go back to school at some point. Hollywood really overpays actors (laughs), and I'm not gonna argue about it, but eventually I want to cash in and use that money to do some good stuff.

Speaking of big paydays, your pal Tobey Maguire made a killing with 'Spider-Man.' But not too many people know that you actually help him land the part. Tell us what happened.
He called me up and said, "I'm dying to do this project, but I don't know if they see me as an action hero. They're planning to do, like the biggest screen test of all time, and I would really appreciate it if you'd come down and read the part of Mary Jane.

When did you two become so buddy-buddy?
We met while filming 'This Boy's Life' and we've run into each other a few times over the years. He's a friend.

What was the screen test like?
They had this huge stage and guys on bungee cords flying around the room. It was pretty intense. You could tell from the excitement that they were gonna go big with it. (Pause) To be honest, I haven't even seen the film yet. Tobey, if you're reading this, I apologize.

Is that because you can't bring yourself to watch it?
(Laughs) No, I really want to. A few family members called me after seeing it and were like, "Dude, the movie was so dope! Why weren't you in it?" I was like (dejected) "I dunno, guys." (Laughs)

Are you kicking yourself for not trying to impress the film's director, Sam Raimi?
No, because it wasn't about me. It was Tobey's thing and I really wanted to be respectful of that. I was just there to be a voice. If they wanted me to come back and read for myself, I would have. But it was his day, not mine. Besides, I don't know if I scream "action hero" in my little five-foot-five frame and string bean arms.

The millions of "Buffy" fans who watched you kick butt on a weekly basis would beg to differ. Were there any scary moments during the show's many fight scenes?
I remember hitting Sarah Michelle Gellar with a right hook during my first week on the job. It was awful. They usually pair actors with stunt doubles to avoid things like that. But apparently, they thought I was coordinated (laughs.) She came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder and I was supposed to whip around and just miss cold-clocking her. But one of us overstepped our mark (laughs) and I made contact. I was wearing these big silver rings and I just punched her right in the face. The funny thing is, nobody said "cut." So I'm looking down at Sarah and she's looking up at me with this incredulous look on her face and I didn't know whether to go on with the scene. I felt so guilty and was like "Ohmigod, I'm so sorry." She got me back a week later by tossing me down on the gravel.

Who'd win in a real fight, you or Sarah?
Um, I don't want to start any battles, but c'mon dude, you saw the show. I look bigger than her and I'm not even that big (laughs.)

What about a fight between you and 'Alias' star Jennifer Garner?
She looks pretty fierce (laughs). I wouldn't go there. She looks like she's got some skills.

Did you have to learn how to fight or did the East Coast instincts kick in automatically?
I can street fight, but in terms of precision and martial arts fighting, they have a very specific style on that show, and they definitely taught me a thing or two, that's for sure. My brothers weren't too happy though, when I came home and thought I was a big toughie and would try and start with them. They were like, "Listen, don't bring any of that 'Buffy' bullshit into this house, 'cause we'll knock you on your ass." And I was like (meekly), "Got it, point taken."

What was it like growing up with three older brothers?
It was awesome. They treated me like one of the guys. I was the kid who used to run around with my shirt off before I couldn't anymore (laughs.) I was always such a tomboy and unaware of my body.


Your brothers must have been pretty rough on your dates.
Actually, by the time I hit high school, my oldest brother had joined the Peace Corps and spent four years in Ecuador. So he wasn't around when I "became a girl." When he came back and saw a couple of things I've done in the business, like Maxim and wearing a catsuit in 'Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back' he was like, "Will you please put some clothes on? We don't want our friends looking at you like that!" (laughs) One of my brothers recently said to me, "Eliza, when are you going to do something serious? When are you gonna get a real job? This little fun thing of yours has gone on too long. You need to get out there and follow in the family footsteps. It's time for you to get involved in some social or political or ecological issues." But I'm having kind of a lucky streak right now and I want to keep riding it. It's funny, I never sat down and mapped out this career of mine. I've always kind of flown by the seat of my pants. But somehow, it's all worked out.


Ecrit par pretty31 

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