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New interview with Lucy Lawless
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We Love Lucy
by Shauna Swartz, November 27, 2006

Her screen credits are many, but Lucy Lawless captured worldwide notoriety — and many a queer girl's heart — with one role in particular: her six-year stint in the title role of Xena: Warrior Princess. There is even a dwarf planet that was temporarily named for the character, with an orbiting moon named for her sidekick, Gabrielle. (Sadly, the name of the planet has since been changed to Eris.)

These days the mortal goddess best known as Xena plays a fetching cyborg on the SciFi Channel's Battlestar Galactica — an upgraded and critically lauded remake of the 1970s television series.

“I can do a million shades of psychopath, so it's not much of a stretch. I really enjoy it,” Lawless says of playing D'Anna Biers, a Cylon or virtually indestructible humanoid who can be reincarnated in another identical body if “killed.”

This season D'Anna becomes involved in a ménage a trois with fellow Cylon Number Six (Tricia Helfer) and human Gaius Baltar (James Callis), the former president of the Twelve Colonies, who D'Anna tortures. Lawless says the writers are always adding layers of complexity to her character, and the show constantly tests the range of its performers.

Much like the show itself, Lawless says, her character operates outside the norm and is a rule-breaker. Go figure.

“I'm drawn to spicy roles,” the perennial badass says. Besides playing a warrior princess, the 38-year-old actor was recently in the studio voicing the character of Wonder Woman for a Justice League DVD. “I've turned down just about every cop or journalist TV series,” Lawless admits. “I cannot chain myself to boredom.”

She believes there is a synchronicity to the characters she tends to play, and she's not talking about her apt surname. Her hometown of Mount Albert, just outside Auckland, New Zealand, gets its Maori name for a legendary gender-bender. Owairaka was a female warrior, and Lawless says the name essentially means “dress like a man.”

New Zealand was the first country in the world to give all women the right to vote, and may be the only country to have all of its highest offices simultaneously held by women. (This was from mid-2005 to mid-2006, when the sovereign ruler, aka Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the governor general, the prime minister, the chief justice and the speaker of the House of Representatives were all female.)

Lawless was schooled by nuns who, she makes a point of saying, “were not lunatics.” Strength and power are qualities associated with women where Lawless comes from.

“I really am a ball buster,” she says. “I didn't realize how scary I am, but straight men get spooked by me. It's like they're attracted to you but fear you. There's definitely a dominance issue there.”

Lawless says she had never been exposed to this until recently, after appearing on Celebrity Duets. There she found herself all decked out and interacting with more straight men than she had in a long time — being away from her friends in New Zealand, who are mostly women, gay men or friends' husbands, anyway. “People think you're more powerful than you are when you're all gussied up,” she says. “But it just reminds me what a great man my husband is.” She is married to Rob Tapert, co-creator of Xena, who is also known for producing the cult classic The Evil Dead.

Lawless did a lot of singing as a teenager but abandoned it in her 20s, once she was no longer enjoying it. “When Celebrity Duets came up, I thought: I'm not getting any younger, and this is something I'd regret my whole life if I didn't get out. I had to do it.”

And she did so against the advice of her various representatives, who were all aghast. “I said, ‘They are bombing in Beirut. I am doing this. As a human being I need to do it for me.'”

Lawless doesn't regret the decision one bit. “I am so glad and so empowered by telling everyone who is supposed to be my advisors to get out of my way and make the deal. Who works for who here?” In the end, she says, those critics have become her biggest supporters.

“It was great for me,” she says. “It's about joy; seize the day. It's your life — make it your sculpture and not what other people think looks pretty.”

And there's more singing in the future for Lawless: In January she will perform at Los Angeles' legendary Roxy. “There are going to be a lot of women in the audience,” she says, laughing. “It's great. Lesbians are my most loyal fans.”

While being asked when she first realized she was a lesbian icon, Lawless interrupts with a ready answer: “Episode 8, Season 1.” That was the episode of Xena being filmed when she and co-star Renee O'Connor first realized a Sapphic storm was brewing.

“Renee and I were standing together in a warehouse down in Auckland — and it was quite cold at that time of year — reading this faxed review about it being lesbian, and going ‘Oh, that's really funny! How did they get that?' And then we went, ‘Oh! Now, that makes perfect sense.'”

She continues: “And of course, Rob Tapert and Liz Friedman were like, ‘Aaaah, we knew it!'” Liz Friedman was a producer and writer for Xena: Warrior Princess; she has gone on to write for The O.C. (FOX), Numb3rs (CBS) and House (FOX).

“Particularly with Liz being a lesbian,” Lawless continues, “that would've been her aim. She and Rob knew the whole time. And it made perfect sense; it just hadn't occurred to us, is all.”

But Lawless says she and O'Connor were never concerned with whether their characters were gay or straight: “It doesn't make a difference how you go about your job as a warrior princess and sidekick. It's like, a female firefighter does her job regardless of her sexual orientation, and that's why it never made a damn bit of difference to us.”

That isn't to say Lawless isn't concerned with her characters' various motivations. She gushes over the way the Battlestar creative team collaborates with the actors.

“They really plumb the depths of every actor and every character, asking you questions, forcing new material from your experiences and your thought patterns,” she says. “That's why the show is so complex. They are using every single person as source material. They'll take every little quirk of your nature and incorporate it into their show so it is as great as the sum of its parts. I felt like I was totally being used, but it's a good thing.”

She says of the show: “It's got a lot of light and shade. It exposes everyone for not being wholly good. Everyone is fallible.”

One thing that enabled her to make her character so scary is the influence of a book she read during filming, The Fantasy Bond: Structure of Psychological Defenses by Robert W. Firestone. She says the chapter about the neglectful or malevolent mother was what she particularly brought to bear on her character.

“It's the scariest thing in the world to any mammal,” Lawless says. “For the most part, if a mother abandons or neglects a child — emotionally, physically or in any way — that child faces annihilation. So on a primal level, we fear that more than anything.”

Lawless is herself a mother of three. She has 4-and 7-year-old sons with Tapert and, from her first marriage, an 18-year-old daughter who is graduating from film school in New Zealand.

As for rumors of Xena hitting the big screen? Lawless hasn't heard of anything in the works, but she quips, “They'll cast some 19-year-old piece of chicken as Xena and disgust us all.”

In the meantime there's still Battlestar Galactica. At least, the 10 episodes she appears in. After that, D'Anna is a goner.

But Lawless is all right with that. “The poetry of my character's arc is so beautiful — the way I end my stint on Battlestar this year — I love it,” she says.

She's not giving up the goods, though. The only thing she will reveal is this: “I'm glad they fulfilled the promise of the character's arc. It has such elegance. I'm really excited for everyone to see it and hear what they think. It's the height of comedy to me, in a very ironical way. It's Kiwi comedy — put it that way.” We'll just have to wait, she says, and see what that means.



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Posts: 1673 | Location: everywhere, nowhere at all | Registered: 23 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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“They'll cast some 19-year-old piece of chicken as Xena and disgust us all.”

evil
 
Posts: 2723 | Location: la la land | Registered: 22 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well I guess that kinda eliminates Lucy doing a Xena movie doesnt it..??
Anyways I LIKEY 19 year old chicken...dont you..???
 
Posts: 2763 | Location: Bflo,NY USA | Registered: 28 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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not particularly, no. and especially not playing Xena...

quote:

Lawless was schooled by nuns who, she makes a point of saying, “were not lunatics.”


heh.


WHAT WOULD XENA DO?

are you sitting on the soap?

sometimes, you just have to say 'what the f...'

 
Posts: 5103 | Location: Austin Texas, baby | Registered: 22 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Br%cy:
Anyways I LIKEY 19 year old chicken...dont you..???


i'm sure some are nice to look at, but in general i likey older women (not nuns)
 
Posts: 2723 | Location: la la land | Registered: 22 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't make a habit of checking out 19 year olds. Razz



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Posts: 1673 | Location: everywhere, nowhere at all | Registered: 23 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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ouch


WHAT WOULD XENA DO?

are you sitting on the soap?

sometimes, you just have to say 'what the f...'

 
Posts: 5103 | Location: Austin Texas, baby | Registered: 22 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hmm ...Well.. next year Daisy will be 19 Maybe SHE can play Xena to your likin...

smash bonk bonk Big Grin

BtW thanx for posting this Shawn....<insert Clappin Smiley here>
 
Posts: 2763 | Location: Bflo,NY USA | Registered: 28 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by False Sense of Affection:
I don't make a habit of checking out 19 year olds. Razz


humor smash
 
Posts: 2723 | Location: la la land | Registered: 22 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Now y'all know I wasn't trying to be funny, I was being punny. Wink



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Posts: 1673 | Location: everywhere, nowhere at all | Registered: 23 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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did i mention ouch ?


WHAT WOULD XENA DO?

are you sitting on the soap?

sometimes, you just have to say 'what the f...'

 
Posts: 5103 | Location: Austin Texas, baby | Registered: 22 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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yea, i do agree lucy isn't getting any younger, so if they will make a movie they better hurry and make it before she gets to old to play the part..
Then again i wouldn''t care howe old she is as long as she is up on the screen..
 
Posts: 5 | Registered: 09 December 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Aaaaarrrggghhh! Why did she have to say "ironical" instead of "ironic"? That's my pet hate, at the moment.

Apart from that, the interview was very pleasant to read. LL shows what she thinks about a range of subjects, as usual.


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Posts: 5295 | Location: Oz | Registered: 22 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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