June 13, 2012

Your favourite Sci-Fi stars in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse

It's always nice to see your favourite stars turn up time and time again in your favourite shows, and if you pay any attention to Joss Whedon's series' at all, you'll have noticed he has favourites too. Actors he enjoys working with turn up in many of his projects, and Dollhouse is no exception. It's a pretty good reason to watch the show. But it's not even just Buffyverse, Firefly and The Cabin in the Woods I'm going to be focusing on here. There will be special guests from other sci-fi projects as well. I've been keeping my eyes open for them!

Eliza Dushku as Echo

We first got to know her as Faith, another slayer and badass foil to Buffy, and part of what made the show worth watching. Now Dushku plays Echo, or Caroline, a lost girl whose memories and self have been removed by the Dollhouse and replaced by whatever they want to program her with. It's kind of like in the Matrix when Neo downloads kung-fu skills into his brain. The question is how Caroline came to be a doll, or as the company calls her an "active", or programmable empty zombie-like adorably clueless being that fulfills... desires. And solves mysteries. And pulls off heists. And pretty much anything else you pay her to do. It's a nice bonus that she's pretty. You can also check her out on an episode of season 4 of Big Bang Theory. Let me know in a comment if you've seen her in any of your other favourite sci-fis.

Tahmon Pinkett (Helo!) as Agent Ballard

It completely kills me to see Helo from Battlestar Gallactica in every episode of Dollhouse. And you will hear me refer to him primarily as Helo, because that's who he is. Remember his, "Frack, I'm sleeping with a cylon" face? You're going to see it again. He's just so good at it, why let that talent go to waste? Adorable. He's been on Stargate SG-1 and Dark Angel as well. Less to the point, I noticed he was on Castle with Nathan Fillion, another Whedon fave, so kind of a cool co-incidence.

Amy Acker as Doctor Saunders

This pretty peppy girl you've come to know as Winifred Burkle on Angel (a Joss Whedon production) is barely recognizable as Doctor Saunders, a sad and scarred employee of the dollhouse who is tormented by her loyalty to the corporation, and by whatever mangled her face. She's conflicted, and a little grouchy. You'll also see her in an episode of Alias, one of Supernatural, and in Whedon's The Cabin the Woods next to this man:

Fran Kranz as Topher Brink

He might be relatively new among Whedon's favourites, but the character isn't new at all. He's your young, nerdy, hillarious genius a la Warren or Andrew from Buffy. But now he's in Dollhouse and Cabin in the Woods. Fun fact: He and Amy Acker are also in a newly slated Whedon Shakespeare adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing that's going to have lots of these favourites casted. And he was what IMDB lists as a "passenger" in Donnie Darko which could just mean an extra on a bus or the airplane, but knowing Donnie Darko, that could be code for some freaky time-travel thing.

Harry Lennix as Boyd Langton

If you've seen this face before, it's because you've seen the sequels to The Matrix; he plays Lock in Reloaded and Revolutions. Okay Harry Lennix has been in a lot of things but we're focusing on the sci-fi! On Dollhouse he plays Boyd, Echoe's handler, which means it's his job to protect her, and to control her. He prefers to do the former. He becomes very attached to the doll and shows devotion to her almost before the dollhouse aka his employer. Again, very adorable, once you see how docile and childlike Echo can be with her mind wiped and how Boyd treats her like his daughter when he should treat her like a bomb about to go off.

Alexis Denisof as Senator Daniel Perrin

Okay, I actually haven't seen him yet as I'm not into Season 2, but this is Angel's Wesley Windam-Price we're talking about, and I have some fun-facts about him. You could say he's a Whedon favourite based on his place in Buffy and Angel, but he hasn't done a lot else in Hollywood. But did you know that he's married to Allyson Hannigan, who played Willow on Buffy, and that he plays Sandy Rivers on How I Met Your Mother with her? Not impressed? Well here's another fun fact: You know the opening lines of The Avengers? "The Tesseract has awakened" blah blah blah "And the humans, what can they do but burn?" Guess who voiced that character, known only as "The Other". That's right, Whedon favourite Alexis Denisof! Crazy. And he'll be playing Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. So worth a mention at the least!

Alan Tudyk as Stephen Kepler

Take Wash from Firely and add some pot and an obsession with the environment, and you will get the essence of Whedon's favourites. One beloved role and cast member evolves into an even more hilarious one. Seeing Wash show up in Dollhouse was what drove me to write this post, because seeing him in a verbal battle with Helo from Battlestar Galactica was just too much for me, and I knew I couldn't be the only fan of niche nerdy things whose mind would explode after looking at this exhaustive list of crossovers. I live to search IMDB to see who has worked with whom, so you don't have to!

A couple more name-drops. Enver Gjokaj, who plays the active Victor, made it into The Avengers as a cop. Summer Glau from Firely and Felicia Day from Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog also deserve a mention, if only to pile excessively onto my point that this show is full of your favourite sci-fi cast members!

Of course, let me know in a comment if I missed anyone or anything. I would definitely like to make this list exhaustive and include all of the roles that connect one actor to another in a giant network of nerd fandom!

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