Eliza Dushku On Her Albanian Passion Project: I Have An Emotional Connection To This Country (EXCLUSIVE Q&A)
The 31-year-old actress is trying to raise money for the editing and delivery of her documentary, and Celebuzz just talked to Dushku about her passion project.
Dushku discusses the importance of this documentary in our exclusive Q&A:
Celebuzz: Why is this film so important to make? Eliza Dushku: I've been in the business since I was 10 years old. I've had my ups and downs in the business, but there’s a real difference with this Albanian connection that I have... its very surreal and emotional. My father and his family were Albanian immigrants that literally came by boats and raised their family in the South End of Boston. Albania is filled with such love-- they even granted me my citizenship while I was in the country shooting this documentary. It was the most surreal and magical experience.
CB: How did you know this was the right time to do this? Why now? ED: There were my own personal reasons. We were invited Albania a couple years ago. This Albanian photographer contacted me, he tracked me down in New York while I was doing an off Broadway play. It was over 5 years ago and he said, “Albania is calling for you, and you have to come home and you have to come and meet these people." So we went on the trip and had the experience, and we thought, we have to come back here and document this at some point.
Then I was on Dollhouse for 2 years. When you’re on a TV show it’s really hard to take off for a few weeks to another country with your own team! So, as we started with my production company-- my brother is my producing partner-- the stars just aligned last summer. It just so happens it’s the 100th anniversary of Albania’s independence this year, and last year Albania was named the number one travel destination in the world by Lonely Planet. So then we said we just had to do it. So we began shooting; me, my brother, my boyfriend came half way through, and everybody just got involved and the country just completely welcomed us.
Celebuzz: If you had to choose one thing you hope viewers get from this documentary, what would it be and why? ED: Just that Albania exists and that it is one of the most untouched and incredibly beautiful places physically, and the people are just so extraordinary. Growing up, people did not know that Albania was a country. When we grew up in Massachusetts, it was such a huge Armenian community, and we had numerous Armenian friends. Our teachers back in the '80s asked, "Where are you from?" And we would say Albania. And they would say, "Oh no sweetie you mean Armenia." And we would say, "No, Albania! It’s a tiny country."
They have these beautiful coasts and beautiful people. The people are so generous. Everybody I know who’s ever been there say they are the most generous, extraordinary people.
CB: You experienced different customs while traveling in Albania, is there one that you’re really fond of? ED: The food was to die for, and it was prepared with unbelievable TLC. You would go somewhere and people would give you every last thing in their cupboard. Everywhere we went would just be a food extravaganza! Also the dancing we experienced. When we went into the mountains, the Albanian Alps the dancing was just so moving and so stunning.
CB: Did your boyfriend, Rick Fox, bust out any Dancing With the Stars moves? ED: He kept up for the most part! Tony Dovolani was also there to give us some pointers. It was a lot of fun.
CB: Would you ever do Dancing With the Stars? ED: Probably not. I have so much stage freight its insane. I’m more of a free-stlyer! I had so much fun going to watch and support Rick though.
CB: Besides this fabulous documentary, what else is up for you? ED: We are deep in our producing space. My brother and I are developing, and we’ve been working on our Robert Mapplethorpe project, a biopic, for a couple years now. We're still in the midst of that.
We're also developing another screenplay, it's Boston based, that I will produce and also star in! I will get the chance to play a true Boston girl, which I have experience with. We’re excited about it, but we can’t talk much about it yet because it's being written right now.
We’re also developing a graphic novel for a cable television space, that I may or may not also play an important role in. So, the documentary and I’ve been doing a lot of work with my mother for the last couple of years, she started a NGO in Northern Uganda, and we have a huge fundraiser coming up in July in San Francisco. We’re relaunching our NGO -- it's a trauma healing and reflection center for former child soldiers and victims of war and trauma from the Uganda war.