Eliza Dushku was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, to an Albanian father and Danish mother, and raised in the LDS Church, the faith of her mother (though she is not actively practicing). She has three brothers, Aaron, Ben, and Nate, the latter of whom is also an actor. Eliza lives in the Los Angeles area with Nate, the oldest of her three brothers, whom she calls her "partner in crime."
Eliza came to the attention of casting agents when she was 10. Along with her brother, she went to a commercial audition where she tripped on the stairs, got a blood nose, and became an instant drama queen. At 12, she was chosen at the end of a five month search throughout the United States for the lead role of Alice, opposite Juliette Lewis in the film That Night. In 1993, Eliza landed a role as Pearl alongside Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy's Life, a role that she said opened a lot of doors. Eliza says that Dicaprio taught her how to deal with bullies and other high school dangers, for which she is grateful.
The following year, she played the teenage daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies. She also had parts as Paul Reiser's daughter in Bye Bye, Love, as Cindy Johnson with Halle Berry and Jim Belushi in Race the Sun, as well as roles in a television movie and a short film.
Eliza took some time off from acting to finish her junior and senior years of high school. She was accepted to the George Washington and Suffolk Universities in Boston.
After completing high school, Eliza returned to acting with the role of Faith, a Slayer much more troubled than the main character Buffy. Though initially planned as a five episode role, the character became so popular that she stayed on for the entirety of the third season. She has also made guest appearances in Buffy's spin-off, Angel.
Because of her convincing role as a sociopath, she became an icon to many criminals. She was inundated with piles of fan mail from legions of prisoners.
In 2000, she starred with Kirsten Dunst in the cheerleader comedy Bring It On, which was a surprising success at the box office that spawned a sequel. Kevin Smith invited her to be a part of his final adventure for his two characters, Jay and Silent Bob, in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, where Eliza co-starred with Shannon Elizabeth, Ali Larter, Ben Affleck, and others. After this, Eliza starred in Soul Survivors, opposite Ben Affleck's brother Casey, followed by a role in The New Guy.
Eliza then returned to work with Robert De Niro and director Michael Caton-Jones in City by the Sea, playing James Franco's junkie girlfriend and mother of his child. The film garnered attention from a wider adult audience and several good reviews.
2003 saw the release of Wrong Turn, a horror film in which Eliza had the starring role, and The Kiss, an independent comedy-drama. Starting that same year, she also starred in a new Fox TV series, Tru Calling, where she played the main character, Tru Davies.
On October 1, 2005, she announced at Wizard World Boston that shooting had begun for Nobel Son (to be released in 2006), in which she will star with Alan Rickman, Danny DeVito, Bill Pullman, and Peter Boyle. Eliza also announced that she would appear in a Broadway production entitled "Dog Sees God" in December of 2005.