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Hot Celebs Magazine
(Daily Star Sunday Magazine)

2 November 2003

Xena! As you've never seen here


She was the leather-corseted warrior princess who launched a million male fantasies.
Now actress Lucy Lawless is back fronting a new TV series in search of the real-life Xenas

Hot Interview

Tall and slim, with light-brown hair, piercing blue eyes and seemingly-endless legs, Lucy Lawless barely resembles her butch alter ego. As Xena: Warrior Princess, the actress won legions of male and female fans with her muscular thighs, leather corset and her kick-ass martial arts technique. Battling evil and defending the vulnerable, while wearing a micro-miniskirt and armed with her mighty Chakram - a sort of magical frisbee - Xena and her virginal sidekick, Gabrielle, took no prisoners. Looking more beautiful in the flesh, and speaking in a surprisingly broad New Zealand twang, the actress turned stay-at-home mother would prefer to talk about real fighting princesses.

After two years out of the limelight. Lawless, 35. who divides her time between her native Auckland and LA. is making her long-awaited return to television, fronting Warrior Women, a series about real-life Xenas throughout history. "I am the ultimate current warrior woman." she jokes. "There was Buffy. but she was too busy doing Scooby Doo"

The Discovery Channel series began with the French mystic and soldier. Joan of Arc, before exploring the lives of the 15th-century Irish pirate Grace O'Malley. the Apache Indian warrior Lozen. the real-life Mulan - a Chinese warrior who inspired the Disney cartoon - and Boudica. the Iceni queen who led an uprising against Britain's Roman conquerors. A newly-fledged expert on women who fought oppression, battled invaders and outraged contemporaries, Lucy declares Grace O'Malley her favourite. "She was a real Xena. Xena was never so real to me as when I read about Grace. She became a successful pirate, and. at one point, she sailed her boat right up the Thames to Greenwich, demanded an audience with Queen Elizabeth, and got it. She was one hell of a woman."

While many viewers will admire the bravery of these female fighters, Lawless's appreciation of them springs from a different source "After wearing a leather corset for six years. I think I'm more grateful than the average human being that we wear comfortable clothes."

Since she hung up her Chakram two years ago. Lawless is relishing her new life. "I love having the freedom of choice, of getting up every day and thinking, 'What can I do today?'That never fails to thrill me. because, for so many years, I didn't have any choice a what I did. I was incredibly privileged I had such wonderful people around me. It was a great role - everything a person could want in life. It also me security and a family, and I'm so thrilled my life went off on that tangent But it's even nicer to be able to spend time with my kids."

Happily married to her second husband: Rob Tapert, executive producer of Xena: Warrior Princess. and looking after their children, Julius three, and one-year-old Judah. Lucy is reveling in her new domestic role. She is also thrilled that she can now spend more time with her 14-year-olc daughter, Daisy, from her first marriage to Garth Lawless. "I've beer offered a lot of action TV series, since that's where I have most currency," she says. "But I have three kids and they deserve to have mother around for them, not on set 12 hours a day."

Adventurous by nature, Lucy has traveled the world, picking grapes in the Rhine Valley and working for a gold-mining company in Australia After various TV roles and a small she landed the role of Xena. With her hair dyed dark-brown and her 5ft 10in form encased in her trademark leather, she sparked a camp cult. But while she was a massive hit in America and Europe, she was barely known in New Zealand, which was the last country to get the show. Now, during her longed-for break, Lucy has finally
impressed her countrymen with a surprise role - as a singing sensation.

Last Christmas she went on tour with Kiwi singer-songwriter Dave Dobbyn. singing and playing the tambourine. "We were on tour for three weeks and I was a real rock-chick." But she has no plans to desert her original trade. "I'm definitely an actress." she says. "I'm dabbling quite a lot. but I've taken time out. I've done it for my children." Lucy turned down a part in X-Men and forgot about an audition to play Galadriel in Lord Of The Rings while she was pregnant.

"You know what might happen? By the time I'm ready and want to do a multi-year contract, they won't want me. But what can I do? I've turned down great things - it's not worth it if your children are miserable."

In her spare moments. Lucy is penning her first screenplay. Anatomy Of A Marriage, which she carries everywhere, making new additions in pencil. And while she is looking for a theatre part to stretch her mind, as well as her limbs - Lucy has never exercised, she's just made that way - the good news for male fans is that she still has her Xena costume tucked away... just in case.

Warrior Women continues with Lozen on Friday, and ends with Boudica on November 12. on the Discovery Channel

*Scans by MaryD