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Eliza's Acting

RachM

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Okay, so I know that acting can be subjective and this is one area where people definitely see things differently, but whenever I watch Dollhouse (currently doing a rewatch) I often find myself disappointed by Eliza's acting and realizing that she doesn't really have a lot of versatility. I'm not trying to hate on Eliza here, I think she has great emotional range as an actress and I love her in roles like Faith and Tru Davies, but in Dollhouse, which requires her to become dozens of entirely different personalities, she falls flat.

The other Dolls, for example, tend to alter their mannerisms and voices, tone, cadence of speech etc. You often hear Dichen Lachman using an American accent, but she will drop or raise the pitch, stretch out her vowels and use different intonations for the different personas. Enver Gjokaj does this too, as well as absolutely nailing other characters' voices (when he's imprinted with Dominic and especially when he's imprinted with Topher). Even Miracle Laurie makes choices which provide a clear distinction between the different personalities. But Eliza just ... doesn't do this. I mean, she does sometimes manage to nail a personality, but (I find personally) that many of her supposedly difference personalities have a sameness about them. She feels like she's acting a personality out as opposed to organically becoming that persona in the way the other Dolls do, and this lessens my enjoyment of the show and of Echo as a character.

Personally, I think they should have gone with Amy Acker as the lead. Amy is a very versatile actress and can pull off the organic switch between personas, as seen with her portrayal of Illyria in AtS. Even when Illyria is pretending to be Fred, you can see instantly when she turns off "Fred" mode and switches back, even when she still physically looks like Fred.

What do you guys think?
 
Spanky
Spanky
I never thought she had great emotional range at all. She always seemed one dimensional to me.
Anyanka Bunny Slayer
Anyanka Bunny Slayer
So true about the Fred/Illyria thing! I was VERY impressed with that...Amy is quite talented..

Name the Stars

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I'm kind of with you there. I adore Eliza, especially as Faith, but I think that she has an acting type, and is better at playing that sort of type rather than having to switch constantly. Granted, I believe that playing a doll would be too much for many talented actors. Amy Acker might have been a good choice.
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

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Eliza may not be the most versatile actor on the show, but she is the only one who could have done Echo.

The thing about Eliza is that the things she does well, she does really well. And there's a fair amount of things she can do. She can be commanding, she can be sexy, she can affect that relaxed confidence that is hers alone and she can be sensitive. What she lacks is I guess that nuance that make Amy so special. Echo requires power and strength of personality more than nuance.

And Eliza is simply one of the best female action actors of all time. Look at "The Target." She is amazing in that. Don't tell me Amy could have done a better job. Eliza can do fear, desperation and pure savagery like no one else.

But yeah, I agree she can be a little boring and stiff in certain scenes.
 
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Dora

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Never watched Dolls house but loved Eliza as faith in Buffy , and I can't say I have seen her in anything else , I find it difficult when actors seem the same people whether working or not, I can't say that about Sarah michelle gellar , lots of the time I hear her speak she talks so fast and with a accent I never understand a lot ...... Sarah can be so different as playing the twins in Ringer or for instants when Buffy entered spikes crib after Glory had beaten him playing the Buffybot, little things she does enables you to tell between each character , David Boreanaz playing Angel , Angelus , or in Bones for instants not so with James Marsters never really seen him much different , unsouled / Souled in Buffy or even in Superman...still Spike although...... not so in your face
 

RachM

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The thing about Eliza is that the things she does well, she does really well. And there's a fair amount of things she can do. She can be commanding, she can be sexy, she can affect that relaxed confidence that is hers alone and she can be sensitive. What she lacks is I guess that nuance that make Amy so special. Echo requires power and strength of personality more than nuance.
I agree with most of this. And I agree that Echo as a character requires power and a strong personality, not nuance. But Eliza had to sell more than just Echo as a character, and that's where (for me) she falls short. I'm supposed to buy into all her other personas but I just don't.

Also, I don't particularly like Echo as a character and I think some of that comes down to the fact that she has the sameness of all of the imprints put into her, which makes it hard (for me personally) to get a good read on her character unless I go back to her roots as Caroline, which the show repeatedly tells me not to do (even though they're essentially the same person).

And Eliza is simply one of the best female action actors of all time. Look at "The Target." She is amazing in that. Don't tell me Amy could have done a better job. Eliza can do fear, desperation and pure savagery like no one else.
Yes, agreed. Like I said, Eliza has great emotional range. She just isn't great at versatility, which is a big part of the role of Echo.
 

Buffy Summers

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Never watched Dolls house but loved Eliza as faith in Buffy , and I can't say I have seen her in anything else , I find it difficult when actors seem the same people whether working or not, I can't say that about Sarah michelle gellar , lots of the time I hear her speak she talks so fast and with a accent I never understand a lot ...... Sarah can be so different as playing the twins in Ringer or for instants when Buffy entered spikes crib after Glory had beaten him playing the Buffybot, little things she does enables you to tell between each character , David Boreanaz playing Angel , Angelus , or in Bones for instants not so with James Marsters never really seen him much different , unsouled / Souled in Buffy or even in Superman...still Spike although...... not so in your face
Let’s keep it on topic please.

:)
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

Guest
unless I go back to her roots as Caroline, which the show repeatedly tells me not to do (even though they're essentially the same person).
My read is that Echo (and Alpha) had certain qualities that the Dollhouse could not erase, which is why Echo plays the hero time and again.

Still, I do agree with you in that Eliza falls short in a number of ways. It makes me wonder how SMG would have done, because Buffy is also a role that requires the actor to do everything.
 
RachM
RachM
Sarah is a more versatile actress than Eliza but I'm not sure I can picture her as Echo ... I don't think I'll be swayed from wanting Amy in the role. Dichen could have been a good choice too, she impresses the hell out of me as Priya/Sierra.

KatrinaL

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What about Tru Calling? Have you watched it? It also feels that she fell flat in her acting as Tru. I totally love her as Faith, tho. But doesn't really convince me neither in Dollhouse nor in Tru Calling.
 
RachM
RachM
I mentioned in my original post that I like her in Tru Calling, I thought she did a good job with that role

Willow Tara

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Well I loved Eliza as Faith, a lot. And as Echo too and I really don´t mind the same-ness, though I actually never thought about it before, so maybe I´ll mind/notice it more on my next rewatch. Who knows?
Okay, so I know that acting can be subjective and this is one area where people definitely see things differently, but whenever I watch Dollhouse (currently doing a rewatch) I often find myself disappointed by Eliza's acting and realizing that she doesn't really have a lot of versatility. I'm not trying to hate on Eliza here, I think she has great emotional range as an actress and I love her in roles like Faith and Tru Davies, but in Dollhouse, which requires her to become dozens of entirely different personalities, she falls flat.

The other Dolls, for example, tend to alter their mannerisms and voices, tone, cadence of speech etc. You often hear Dichen Lachman using an American accent, but she will drop or raise the pitch, stretch out her vowels and use different intonations for the different personas. Enver Gjokaj does this too, as well as absolutely nailing other characters' voices (when he's imprinted with Dominic and especially when he's imprinted with Topher). Even Miracle Laurie makes choices which provide a clear distinction between the different personalities. But Eliza just ... doesn't do this. I mean, she does sometimes manage to nail a personality, but (I find personally) that many of her supposedly difference personalities have a sameness about them. She feels like she's acting a personality out as opposed to organically becoming that persona in the way the other Dolls do, and this lessens my enjoyment of the show and of Echo as a character.
I agree with a lot of this now that I think about it! She really has that same-ness and the other dolls do the change between the personalities better, to show more difference. But it never really botherd me. (Btw I love when Topher is imprinted in Victor, just really AMAZING acting!)
Eliza may not be the most versatile actor on the show...

The thing about Eliza is that the things she does well, she does really well. And there's a fair amount of things she can do. She can be commanding, she can be sexy, she can affect that relaxed confidence that is hers alone and she can be sensitive. What she lacks is I guess that nuance that make Amy so special. Echo requires power and strength of personality more than nuance.

And Eliza is simply one of the best female action actors of all time. Look at "The Target." She is amazing in that.

But yeah, I agree she can be a little boring and stiff in certain scenes.
That´s true. Eliza is amazing in "The Target" for example. And I really love her as Echo, it´s hard for me to imagine someone else as Echo.

Personally, I think they should have gone with Amy Acker as the lead. Amy is a very versatile actress and can pull off the organic switch between personas, as seen with her portrayal of Illyria in AtS. Even when Illyria is pretending to be Fred, you can see instantly when she turns off "Fred" mode and switches back, even when she still physically looks like Fred.
Oh my god yeeesss!!! Love Amy so much! It is so true what you said about Illyria and Fred Imo. I really agree with that. Amy is a really taleneted actress! As Alexis once said (in an interview for Much Ado About Nothing) "Amy is one of those actors where whatever she does you watch and think: "You are perfect for this" and then she does something completely different and you think: "You are perfect for this""
So yeah, I think she would be perfectly capable of playing Echo and she would do it great! But I can´t imagine anyone else than Eliza as Echo until I have seen it, yeah I lack of fantasy I guess.
But I´d love a TV Show with Amy as the lead. Especially if she got to show so much range and switch between personalities/characters. Great! Now I want a show focused on Whiskey!
 
RachM
RachM
Oooh, yes, I would *love* a series based around Whiskey (or even just a few more episodes of Dollhouse centered on her)

Willow Tara

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Oooh, yes, I would *love* a series based around Whiskey (or even just a few more episodes of Dollhouse centered on her)
@RachM Yes! I love Whiskey/Claire Saunders! I even ship Claire/Topher and am writing one of my first fanfics about them :) (my very first was of course about Willow/Tara and I think then Fred/Willow and Fred/Wesley and some others, but the Topher/Claire fic is the first one I actually type on my computer, the others were handwritten when I was around the age of 9/10 plus a Willow/Tara comic fanfiction ;))
Amy Acker is such a great actress, I wish she would get her own show as Whiskey :D Love her as Fred, Illyria; Claire/Whiskey, Beatrice and am currently watching Person Of Interest just because she´s in it and I love her as Root! Wanna watch Cabin in the Woods soon too, will see how she´s in that. (Well of course she´ll be awesome in it... Duh! It´s Amy!)
 
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thetopher

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I'm of the opinion that Eliza isn't very good in Tru Calling but is actually pretty good in Dollhouse.
I mean, if we're talking intensity and believably instead of 'impersonating a character' (I agree that she's not the best at that) she she holds up well against all of the rest of the cast. It helps that I think Faith and Echo are great characters to invest in, Tru just isn't.

Most of the other 'dolls' on Dollhouse have a bit more versatility but aren't as good as Eliza with their intense emotional scenes. But when Eliza is good she is really good in a given episode.
To me the best actors in Dollhouse are Olivia Williams (Adele) and Fran Kratz (Topher), because when it comes to their big emotional moments, they nail them completely and absolutely, just like Eliza.

After all there are plenty of great actors who don't really have a lot of range in terms of character but they're the best at playing certain types.
 
RachM
RachM
I think Dichen does the emotional scenes well, all of Belonging is just wrenching.

Octavia

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sameness about them
I thought that was sort of the point though - she wasn't as deeply imprinted as the other dolls were, always holding on to a touch of awareness.

I do agree she's not the best actor in the whedonverse but maybe part of the issue was directing. Look how different Dichen Lachman is compared with her early days (hehehe). Now shes even better on Altered Carbon. Has that big star feel about her now. Enver Gjokaj is way underrated. Eliza was amongst some extremely good actors, so its not a surprise she doesn't measure up. Many actors in the whedonverse are average at best but enough really good ones carry it.
 

Bluebird

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I don't think Eliza is as good an actor as Amy or SMG but she has a very charasmatic screen presence I'm more drawn to, like early Ats Cordelia.

I think the best actor on TV at the moment is Iain De Caestecker.
 

Willow Tara

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I'm of the opinion that Eliza isn't very good in Tru Calling but is actually pretty good in Dollhouse.
I mean, if we're talking intensity and believably instead of 'impersonating a character' (I agree that she's not the best at that) she she holds up well against all of the rest of the cast. It helps that I think Faith and Echo are great characters to invest in, Tru just isn't.
Okay I haven´t seen Tru Calling, but I love Faith and Echo and feel very invested in them. 😍
When Eliza is good she is really good in a given episode.
I have to agree there! When Eliza has found a way to make the character/situation fit her and she is good, then she is amazing!!! Just as she is as Faith and Echo (not necessarily meaning all her imprints, but Echo herself, she does very very good Imo)!
To me the best actors in Dollhouse are Olivia Williams (Adele) and Fran Kratz (Topher), because when it comes to their big emotional moments, they nail them completely and absolutely, just like Eliza.
Yes! So true!!! Yeay! Some Fran/Topher love! :D Tophers break down in Epitaphs makes me cry everytime!!! 😭 And true about Olivia tooo!!!!
(Btw @thetopher I was wondering for some time now... Is your screen name "thetopher" because of Topher from Dollhouse?)
Most of the other 'dolls' on Dollhouse have a bit more versatility but aren't as good as Eliza with their intense emotional scenes.
I always thought Dichen did well with emotional scenes. But yeah Eliza did those great! :D



I thought that was sort of the point though - she wasn't as deeply imprinted as the other dolls were, always holding on to a touch of awareness.
Yeah, was wondering about that too when I read here in this thread. I think she really did have that sameness, but not sure if it was her acting or if she was supposed to, because of the story. That some part of Echo came through in all her imprints and so she had that aspect which made them similar. If that´s the case, then Eliza is even more of a great actress than I always thought! That she intentionally gave them this sameness to her imprints. WOW! Now that I see it that way... That is SO great!!!!!! And the other actors did an amazing job showing that the other dolls really were different personalities. :D
 
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thetopher

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(Btw @thetopher I was wondering for some time now... Is your screen name "thetopher" because of Topher from Dollhouse?)
Partly. I do love the character. But it's also part of the second name. So, both personal and Whedon-y. :)

I always thought Dichen did well with emotional scenes. But yeah Eliza did those great!
Yeah, I love Dichen in Dollhouse but I've seen her in many things since then (Torchwood, The Last Ship, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D) and she's pretty underwhelming.
I love it when Victor impersonates Topher though; that was brilliant. :D
 

Willow Tara

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Partly. I do love the character. But it's also part of the second name. So, both personal and Whedon-y. :)



Yeah, I love Dichen in Dollhouse but I've seen her in many things since then (Torchwood, The Last Ship, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D) and she's pretty underwhelming.
I love it when Victor impersonates Topher though; that was brilliant. :D
Cool! I love Topher! Love Dichen too!
And absolutely YES!!! To Victor as Topher, that is so hilariouse and amazing!!! I love that!!! He like really is Topher!
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Dora

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Probably told off again, but I don't think she Eliza has the acting depth, of SMG for example , take Sarah's last two short lived TV series Ringer and The crazy ones , Sarah play's two completely different types of Characters , and she is three completely different people
That being said I have only watched Eliza in Buffy,which I liked and clips of other things that she has done , I am always disappointed when Actors are so very little different , in interviews, voice , etc , than in the work they have done , Eliza falls into this category for me
 

Willow Tara

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Elizas acting as Faith from the bad to the good slayer, her awesome character arc and development was so amazing! She acted really well Imo. On Buffy and Angel!

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RachM
RachM
I agree she was great in the Buffyverse, she's the main reason I love Faith so much. But, like I said in the original post, her acting as Echo fell short for me.
thetopher
thetopher
I agree that Faith was Eliza's strongest role to date, partly because the writing for her was so good.

FaithLehane16

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I just think it was a different type of acting in a different setting. I did enjoy Dollhouse, but I need to do a rewatch.
 

Blaze

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Her acting fits the bill for her character in my opinion. She is meant to be different than other dolls, I think the bleeding of personalities into each other makes sense. And I actually think she does a fine job because I ended up really liking Echo but at the same time I really disliked Caroline, so I think she was versatile enough for what the role demanded.

Was there stronger actors on the show? Yes definitely, Enver is probably the strongest here. But for what the character of Echo demanded, Eliza was a good fit.
 
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