TV has not been kind to Harry Lennix lately. In his last recurring role, he played the ill-fated boyfriend of the president's sister on the messy sixth season of "24." (I forget how his character, Walid, even figured into the plot after he gets beat up in prison, but it's safe to say he probably just disappeared into the "24" ether.) Before that, he was the chief of staff to Geena Davis on the short-lived ABC drama "Commander in Chief."
But for "Dollhouse," Lennix, who next stars in the star-studded political thriller "State of Play," opposite Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe, is betting once again on a TV show. He explains why:
How did you get involved with the show?
I had not been familiar with Joss’ [Whedon]work, but last year I had just finished doing "August Wilson's 20th Century" at the Kennedy Center and had about a week down time. During that week my agent sent a number of scripts, and of those scripts the most exciting one was ‘Dollhouse.’ I immediately read and felt an affinity for the character I’m playing, Boyd Langdon. That very week I got an audition to go in and met Joss and the cast of people, who were very nice. Three days later I went to a call-back, and that very day I heard they decided to go with me. It was very nice, the turnaround on that. It doesn’t always happen that way, let me tell you.
By now, we all know what the premise of "Dollhouse" is. What did you find most appealing about the project?
The possibilities for it are endless. It deals with subject matter that is eternal: What is it to be able to engineer a human being just like you want? We get into questions of eugenics, we get into questions of what is free will. Why is there a need for such a place [like the Dollhouse]? Why is something like, for example, prostitution, considered the world’s oldest profession? What is it about people that orthodoxy does not do a good job in satisfying? When you have something as unorthodox and as high-end as the Dollhouse, that is people who can afford to pay the price to do what they like and go outside of the law, there must be a reason for it. ... If someone voluntarily decided to give up a portion of their lives for a reason, for money in this case, or whatever, to escape the past, then what benefit is derived and is that benefit reciprocal?
That’s a lot of questions.
But those questions will never become old. And of course there are many variations on that theme, so the potential for ‘Dollhouse,’ as we learn where this world is, as we learn more about it, I think the potential is limitless.