Eliza Dushku was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Judith (Rasmussen), a political science professor, and Philip R. Dushku, a teacher and administrator. Her father is Albanian and her mother is American (of Danish, Irish, English, and German descent).
She was discovered at the end of a five-month search throughout the United States for the perfect girl to play the lead role of Alice opposite Juliette Lewis in the film That Night (1992). Since then, she has been in several films and has worked with actors such as Robert De Niro, Ellen Barkin, Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Reiser, and Jim Belushi. Her previous acting experience includes numerous amateur presentations at the Watertown Children's Theater where she was part of the company since she was in the first grade. In addition to acting, she is sometimes seen on stage at the Children's Theater signing for the deaf.