'Dollhouse': Victor the serial killer, and the actor who plays him
Enver Gjokaj as Victor in "Dollhouse" helps make the "Bella Chose" episode one of the creepiest yet in the show's limited history. Questionably using a doll to reconstruct a serial killer, Echo taking on another sexy role, an unprecedented remote wipe of a doll and another "Battlestar Galactica" cast mate (Michael Hogan) making an appearance all make this a memorable concoction.
The episode explores yet another ethically off-kilter use of the dollhouse technology with a situation that tests the viewer's resolve. Of the technology, Enver says in a quick interview I did with him following the mini recap below: "I would hope that I would basically step on it and kill it immediately, and never look back." Yes, but if you needed to find women held hostage by a serial killer, and could imprint a doll to do just that, wouldn't you? Probably, but know that you are also creating a serial killer in the process, with (hopefully) no side effects later on down the road when he's wiped. See Echo's reaction at the end of the show? A little serial killer sneaked in, so you never know.
Col. Tigh's quick scene was a layer of icing on a many-tiered cake of pretty good acting. Liked Echo in this episode a lot as well. Eliza's ditzy yet tough yet childlike transformations are definitely showing more active signs of the burgeoning personality in Echo awakening. Eliza's good when she has to fight, even against her own psyche. And though her doll counterpart Victor is still a blank slate, Enver is far from it. We got to talk a bit to the world-traveling actor about his "Dollhouse" off-season, this particular episode, and what's up with Victor this season.
Well, my cast members think that I'm a little bit pessimistic. Rather than speculate about what was going to happen after the end of last season, I chose to leave the country and get away from it. Honestly, my speculation doesn't matter one way or the other on whether it's going to get picked up. Some big decisions by big people in a big room up in Fox somewhere.... So, that's the luxury of being an actor. I just did my best in Season One, then left the country and was pleasantly surprised that we'd be coming back for Season Two.
Have you had the opportunity to discuss what Victor will be doing this season?
That assumes a large level of participation on my part in developing plot lines, and that's not the case! I'm certain that Eliza has a big level of input, but in terms of the rest of us as actors, we're all just like the fans -- sitting around with drinks, speculating on what could happen this year.
Well, we're still operating under the assumption that Victor and Sierra aren't retaining information like Echo is... We're still operating under the fact that Victor gets fully wiped, minus the fact that he's in love with Sierra, and that they can't wipe. So, I don't think he's harboring any aggression or anything.... He was scarred up and now he isn't and it's all the same to him.
Do we get to see any real development of Victor?
You see it through the developing relationship between he and Sierra.... The writers really play with the fact that no matter what personalities you throw on these two characters, they're somehow drawn to each other.... But I can't say that there's a lot of self-realization to Victor. I can say that I think Victor's a very broken character and we explore that. Episode 4 will be exploring Sierra's back story, and then coming up we'll be exploring Victor's back story. But you'll see that both of them are very ... damaged characters.
The relationship with Sierra, when you first found out that this was going to be an ongoing storyline, what'd you think of it?
I loved it. I loved it as an idea and I love the way that it's played out. Mostly it's because we've gotten a really great reaction from fans and viewers about the relationship. I definitely think the reaction has helped increase it and we may see a lot more of it this season.
In terms of this latest episode, how do you approach being a serial killer?
I've never gotten the opportunity to play someone like that before. I was able to approach it differently this time, cause if I'm imprinted with someone you've already seen in the episode, as we did with Dominic last season, obviously I'm making their acting choices. They allowed me to establish this character, which means that they shot me first, then had the guest actor.... I guess the rest of it was the writing. There was a gentility and a bizarre self-control that was written into the character because this character feels like if he doesn't control his urges then someone could die or he could basically kill someone -- which he does.
Did you read up, maybe find a "Dummies" guide to being a serial killer pamphlet?
I did. I'm always nervous talking about the method work that I do cause then people watch the performance and say, "Oh, well, what a waste of work." But, I do tend to do stuff like that.
These people who are serial killers ... time and time again you hear others saying, 'They seemed so pleasant' or "Oh, he's such a nice young man." So, I think that was in the writing. He seems like he's from a different time and really likes pleasantries and says things like, "Oh, my dear." So I really keyed into that. If you saw this guy on the street, you probably wouldn't think anything of him. We weren't going for Jack Nicholson or a psychotic mustache-twirling villain. I think they were just trying to go for something very creepy and off.
If you, Enver, were controlling the dollhouse, how do you think you'd use it and how do you think you'd react to having the power?
The idea of it being real is so scary. There's a sanctity to our minds and being who we are, and the idea that someone could step in and mess with that is the ultimate form of control and manipulation. If I had that kind of control in my hands, I would hope that I would basically step on it and kill it immediately, and never look back.
Victor gets to do some really awesome stuff [later on]. I think you're going to see some familiar faces inside of Victor, or "a" familiar face inside of Victor, and it's very fun. That's all I can say.
Cryptic, but I like it. The actors are cool, many of the storylines are strong and getting stronger, but the ratings aren't. I'm with Maureen Ryan in thinking that this show introduces thought-provoking issues like no other on TV, and with all of the doom-and-gloom cancellation chatter out there, hopefully it can rise above it.
-- Jevon Phillips
Photos: At top, Echo (Eliza Dushku) ponders the mallet; at bottom, Enver Gjokaj portrays Victor, an active under contract to the dollhouse. Credit: Fox