Eliza Dushku Teases 'Wild' White Collar Romp, Giving Buffy Fans a Little More Faith

This Tuesday on White Collar (USA Network, 9/8c), Neal’s pursuit of a recurring nemesis leads him to a crazy-sexy Egyptologist played by Whedonverse alumna Eliza Dushku. Given that TV’s most eligible con man (Matt Bomer) is currently on the outs with Sara, how can sparks not fly? Rest assured that they do – and then some – as former Tru Calling costars Bomer and Dushku reunite for a frothy escapade. Dushku spoke with TVLine about rousing Neal’s naughty side, her and Bomer’s Tru recallings, and how she’d love to slay again.

TVLINE | Welcome to the red-hot White Collar.
It is red-hot — and this week it’s even hotter.

TVLINE | How have you been describing your character?
Her name is Raquel LaRoque, which is a great name. Seriously, that sort of cinched it right there. She’s an Egyptologist that Neal needs to get acquainted with in order to lead him closer to Keller (played by Ross McCall). Obviously Neal has a lot of ladies in his life — in various episodes, you have a guest star come in and he uses his charm to get what he wants — but he doesn’t always have a meaningful, personal connection to those people. So basically, I wanted her to be somebody that was Neal’s equal – someone who is just as ambitious and devoted to her job, intelligent, quick, manipulative if she has to be, and uses her sexuality if she has to.

TVLINE | She seems to have this old-style Hollywood glamor thing going on.
She does have this sort of ’40s femme fatale look and vibe, and I loved that. We had this one beautiful shot in a park, and there were these gas lamps behind us… Everything about it felt like a ’40s picture. I didn’t necessarily expect that going into such a contemporary and fresh show.

TVLINE | Would you say that Raquel is bit more from Neal’s world that Sara (Hilarie Burton) is? Is that why they click?
I don’t know if it’s that she’s more or less of something than Sara is — it was almost coincidental that in this episode they’ve maybe run their course — but it definitely was maybe time to add a little spice – not that Sara wasn’t spicy! But for Neal and the world he lives in, having a monogamous relationship doesn’t lend itself to the possibilities of a wild romp with a woman that sort of shares his makeup. I think also there was talk about fans feeling like in the second season maybe he had started to become a Fed through and through, and yet he has this naughty con man side — sometimes who you travel with can affect how you behave. So I think Raquel is brought in at a good time to promote some misbehaving!

TVLINE | Will Neal’s experience with Raquel be the ruin or the salvation of his romance with Sara?
That remains to be seen…. [His time spent with Raquel] is poignant, and it makes him think, and it makes him wonder. But I’m not sure what goes on next.

TVLINE | Are Neal and Raquel sincerely interested in each other, or might one of them be playing the other?
That’s always the question. Neal may think he has it all figured out, but Raquel definitely has more to do – and people will definitely scream for that after Tuesday night!

TVLINE | So, they get physical? I mean, he looks like Matt Bomer, you look like you….
[Chuckles] We get physical, yeah…. Matt and I know each other of course from back in the day, so it as easier to step in and just cut to the chase and really make the characters connect and make some steam happen. With these Egyptian artifacts and antiquities, I was like, “Matt, we’re going to sexualize these scarabs.” After some of the takes, Matt would run over and go, “Oh my gosh, Eliza did you feel that? Something was happening there!” I was like, “Well, I meant to get you a little excited.” [Laughs]

TVLINE | Tell me about reuniting with Matt. Were there any jokes or topics from your Tru Calling days that came up?
There’s one big joke that’s constant, and that was Zach Galifianakis [who played Tru’s friend/morgue supervisor Davis]. When we were making our show, not that many people knew who Zach was. He was just that castmate who is so ridiculously hilarious even when he’s not trying. But now that Zach has really blown out of the water and everybody knows him from The Hangover and everything else, Matt and I would sit around and remember all of that insanity. [During Tru Calling] Matt and Zach were like Dad and Drunk-and-Angry Stoner Stepdad to my one-year-old golden retriever. I remember my dog riding off in the basket of Zach’s orange bike, with a plume of smoke following him. [Laughs] Then Matt would take him for a less chaotic weekend.

TVLINE | If you were able to choose a past character to play for a bit longer of a stretch, which would you choose? Faith, Tru, Dollhouse‘s Echo…?
Oh, I don’t know…. I’ve always had a lot of questions about Faith, and why there wasn’t a spin-off. It was a conversation right as Buffy was coming to an end, but because Buffy was ending so strong and Angel was already on, it didn’t feel like that was the “leap of Faith” to take. I ended up choosing to do Tru Calling, but I do miss [Faith]. Her effect is so powerful, globally, how could I not? People to this day tell me the impression she made on them personally, so of course I want to give them some more of her at some point, if I ever can.