Lucy Lawless is Back  - Xena turns to comedy in Eurotrip

About.com Interview

February 2004


Been a while since weíve seen Lucy Lawless. She did an X-Files role near that showís end, but thatís already a couple years ago. If you looked closely, you caught her in Spider-Man. But if you missed those, it wonít be too much of a shock to see Lucy Lawless in Eurotrip. Sheís wearing another leather outfit, this time playing a dominatrix, which is only a stretch from Xena in the moral sense. Xena used her power to whip bad guys. The dominatrix uses it on men who pay her. In this case, it is a hapless American tourist whoís expecting a different kind of sex house.

Lawless is totally playful about the role, and feisty. She responded to several of the touchiest questions with more questions, sarcastically challenging me to really prod about the filmís sex comedy overtones. But itís all in good fun. Lawless has a sense of humor about her cameo (itís one scene) and itís hopefully a step towards establishing her as a comedic presence. But there will always be the Xena memories. Certain fans, especially the ones having plastic surgery to look more like her, wonít let her forget that.

Youíre used to tight leather outfits, right?

Yeah. What of it? Something wrong with that?

How did the dominatrix compare to Xena?

When I saw this role, I thought, ďOh, here we go, just another bondage outfit.Ē

Do you understand dominatrix fantasy?

Hmm, why are you asking? I think the appeal of the dominatrix, is it not, that a lot of powerful men Ė judges, lawyers, whatever Ė donít want to have to make choices anymore or something. That seems to be the clientele of the dominatrix, is it not? Itís a stress reliever, I don't know. I would guess that [Cooper] is not the typical recipient of that kind of behavior.

Why did you decide to do a small cameo?

Big cameo, baby, big cameo. Because I love these people and it was an extreme character filming in Prague. What kind of a nut would I be not to want to have that life experience?

Do you consider yourself funny?

Usually? I donít even consider myself usually. Soccer mom, thatís what I consider myself. Yeah, I think Iím a funny person. I started out in comedy. You know I remember the moment I realized the value of comedy is when I was eight years old and I was sitting in class and I realized that if I just acted really stupid, I could get away with a lot of stuff. And it would diffuse a lot of tension and the teachers would focus on you. I just found out the value of being a funny dunce at times.

Was that your first acting experience?

No, I really was a dunce.

How old are your kids?

One, four and a 15-year-old girl. Two little boys.

What will they say when they see this role?

You look hot, mom! No. The two little guys wonít see this role until theyíre old enough to be embarrassed by me, and my daughter is so laisez faire about it all. She really likes horror and sort of sex humor or whatever doesnít really interest her much, at least not when sheís around me.

Whatís been the strangest Xena reaction?

Because we had such a large lesbian following, I find that when I meet lesbians, because I have two friends who are a couple, and when I meet their friends, their friends are really standoffish to me. At first I just think oh, they think Iím really boring or whatever. And then two weeks later, they kind of go oh, no, weíre fine with you now. We were just having trouble with the whole Xena quotient. The armor, what I wear, I don't know.

Have you met the woman who thinks she is Xena?

Yeah, the one thatís had 27 surgeries? Yeah, sheís fabulous. She looks more like Xena than I do. Thereís lots of them out there actually. And that guy with Xena tattooed all over his body.

Could there ever be a Xena movie?

I think the horse mightíve bolted on that one. I feel that by the time they get around to making one, Iíll be too old for it. And whoís going to want to see a 50-year-old woman?

Who should play her then?

No, still me. I want to see me. Glad you asked. Iíd be pissed off if they come back and ask me to play her mother or something.

The Xena typecast and Eurotrip accent
Have you been typecast by that role?

The warrior princess roles just donít stop coming. Thatís a bit of a lie actually. But they do want me to do action for sure. They want me to be in outer space, they want me to be killing vampires and I just had to say recently look, Iím sorry, Iím just done with the gods and monsters. What I want to do is comedy and thatís what I love. Thatís what I hope is next for me.

Is it hard to get people to see youíre funny?

Slowly itís starting to happen. The thing for me really was I took so many years off to have kids when I perhaps careerwise couldíve been building on what Iíd done before and I didnít but Iím not sorry.

But Xena had humor. Do people get that?

They do have a little trouble, like sometimes- - no, I had the opposite experience the other day where I got this call and itís Mike Judge wants to see you at five oíclock today. I go oh my god, that clashes with the other thing, but Iím going to drive down to Venice right now. Iím not going to miss out meeting Mike Judge for this role in a movie. I didnít even know what, so I drive down there, and I sit there frantically reading the thing. When I get to my bit, itís like enormous woman stuffed into tights like Chyna on a bad hair day. I thought he had discovered I was a comic genius or something. No, he only wants me because he thinks I look like Chyna. So I don't think I got that job.

Loved your Simpsons appearance.

I was stunning in that, I know.

So are you stuck on that role because youíre so identified with that character?

Well, as an actor, you should be so lucky to have that problem. I donít feel too hamstrung by it really because I never thought I was Xena and I was never confused about it. So, and I had so much more to do and whatever background. Itís just going to take a little time I think. I don't know how much time I have. Everybodyís got to be 18 these days to have a future, but I don't know, Iím having a good time.

Are you good with accents?

Usually, but I can slip. Youíve got to keep practicing.

What are the easiest to do?

For me, a southern accentís much easier than a standard American accent. Itís quite hard for us, and I did it for a lot of years, but now Iím out of practice again, so Iíve got to brush up.

The hardest?

Regular American can be quite hard to do perfectly, and Scots. Itís only because I havenít heard them very much. I don't know how hard they really are to do. Itís just a matter of getting your hearing I think.

Did you base the dominatrix accent on anyone?

I wanted her to be a real Dutch woman because of Xavier Hollander. But I really based it on Hans, who is the doorman at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin. I needed to find an authentic Dutch accent and I couldnít find a Dutchman anywhere in Western Europe without actually going to Holland and it wasnít on my flight path so I managed to find a Dutchman in Dublin.

Did you make a backstory for this character?

No.

Did you work with most of the cast or just Jacob Pitt?

No, I didnít. I got to work with obviously Jacob, and I hung out a bit with Travis. I don't know why, but his scenes were placed around mine, and Scott and Michelleís stories were elsewhere at that time. I was only filming a couple of days. So I was only around a week including costume fittings and stuff.

Was anything in your scene cut and might appear on the DVD?

I don't know. I havenít seen the final product so I don't know exactly what they used. I think you pretty much see everything. Thereís just different versions of what youíve already got because all that stuff had to be cut a certain way to maximize its funniness. A lot of comedy is in the editing and timing and everything, so I don't know that my scenes would be better if you made them longer. Itís gotta be just right, only the right length for each gag.

Nothing racy?

Certainly not in my scene, no.

Travel tips
What are the biggest tourist mistakes?

Youíve got to know your currency. Thatís really important. You  really have to understand the exchange right because you get terribly ripped off in certain places. Once I wrote them down when I was doing a lot of traveling, and Iíve lost touch with that book.

Are you a responsible tourist?

Yeah. Traveler, not a tourist. I prefer to be a traveler. I find tourism ugly. You go to places that have no business being- - they just seem contrived. You can go to resorts in Hawaii that are six star resorts if that were possible, and you just think this has no business being here. The ecology canít support it and it depresses me.

What are your favorite places to travel?

Well, New Zealand is a big one of course. And I really enjoy going up to Canada. I really love the northern part of America and Canada. Iíve never been to South America. Iíd love to do that. And Asia rocks. Asia is mind blowing.

Iíve always wanted to see Hong Kong. Hong Kong is so cool. Youíve got to go there. Itís just amazing because you get the old and the new right next to each other and you go on the old streets and people are still selling [weird things]. You can find crucified lizards on sticks and things that people put in their soups. You just see a way of life that lived on the street because thereís so little space, a way of life that you donít see anywhere in our countries.

Were you already in Europe when the Eurotrip producers called you?

They asked me to do it before I went to Europe. It was coincidental that I happened to be in Europe for about a month prior to this. That was for a documentary series on ancient warrior women for Discovery Channel. It was so interesting, went to China, went all over Europe. Then I went to Prague and then I went to the southwest of America, New Mexico.

Youíre the host?

Mm-hmm. Itís five documentaries, really good, each with a different subject. Such great fun making those.

Are they out?

Theyíve been out everywhere but not here yet. At the end of March theyíre going to be in Asia and New Zealand. Itís been bought here. I just donít know when it will screen.

What is your role in Boogey Man?

Drug addicted mother gives up custody of her son who then grows up. You see me in flashbacks only and in his nightmares so I wear a lot of prosthetics.

What is it about?

Boogey Man is about a young man who is troubled by this apparition, the Boogey Man. You see my character only in flashbacks as the mother who when addicted to drugs gave up custody with him. She gave up custody and then appears later on in his nightmares.

Since your husband is producing, does it have a Sam Raimi sensibility?

I don't know, I havenít seen it. In movies, it really has the stamp of the director. DGA rules are that a director doesnít even have to show any of his material until heís made a cut. So itís not like producers in television who have their hand on the wheel every step of the way. So I would think it has the directorís flavor.

Are you a horror fan?

Yeah, I grew up on them. I donít watch them so much anymore because Iíve gotten a bit soft with motherhood. Iím a sucker for Court TV.

At home, are you the regular mother, cooking dinner and everything?

Iím a terrible cook of all foods. I have no interest. Iím really good at cooking 20 minute meals that are really nutritious, pretty darn tasty and only using one pot because I donít like cleaning up. My husbandís a chef and he makes unbelievable, ungodly mess and he doesnít like cleaning up either. You know when you first get married, you strike some dumb deals where you go oh, Iíll cook and you clean, you go okay, that sounds fair and then you just regret it forever. Iíve renegged on that bet actually.

Who cleans up?

I guess I do. My one year old last night, about three oíclock in the morning I could hear [clanking] and I get up and my child has gone from upstairs, heís come all the way down, gone into the kitchen, pushed a kitchen chair to the barstool, from the bar stool to the bar. And heís got the swinging hanging lamp and heís smashing against the range. We removed the knifes and we justÖ Weíre going to take the knobs off the stove.

Your husbandís a chef? Did he quit producing?

Well, an amateur chef. Heís a cook. Heís a producer, but he loves to cook.

Youíre such a jokester, do you take this business seriously?

I donít take business seriously, I take acting seriously. I take my job really seriously, but a lot of the job is not about acting, but I donít take business seriously.

What do you take seriously?

My kids, acting, I do.

Would you want them to act?

I donít mind what they want to do. Whatever they want to do is good by me.



~ Fred Topel