Game Zone Online
20 February 2004
Xena Star Lucy Lawless Chats with GameZone Online
“I would just take Tetris for hours and hours until I was seeing a block falling every time I closed my eyes.”
Sword fights, fantasy worlds, and a warrior princess who can kick more butt than a vampire slayer – Xena: Warrior Princess is one of the most beloved action/fantasy shows on the planet. Its fan following was (and still is) in the millions. The heroes were likable and you couldn’t help but hate the villains.
The Xena: Warrior Princess saga has spawned everything from video games and replicated weaponry to action figures and animated movies. Recently the series has been making its way to DVD. Seasons I and II have been out for a while now, and Season III hit stores last Tuesday.
Reliving the memories of Xena and its wonderful past, GameZone Online took a break from playing games to chat with Xena star and fellow gamer Lucy Lawless. Lucy tells us about the show, her upcoming projects, her addiction to Tetris, and more…
The third season of Xena: Warrior Princess has been released on DVD. Tell us about the time you spent on the show, and how it feels to look back on everything.
Lucy Lawless: I look back really fondly on it. We had such a d**m good time, with Renee, Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, and everybody on our crew. They were the wildest, funniest people. And the fact that we ever got anything done is a miracle (laughs).
What is your fondest memory from the show?
LL: Oh my God it was just... Everyday was a laugh. I'll tell you what my least fond memories are. Any time when you see that we are lying in water, or when we look cold, it was so cold because we hardly wore any clothes on the show. The whole thing was about you've got to see skin, people really relate to skin. There were some times when it was unbelievably arduous.
During the course of the show, were there any scenes cut from an episode that you were attached to? Anything that you wanted to be seen but wasn't?
LL: No, they showed everything (laughs). The opposite was likely to be true; things that I wish would never see the light of day were put on international television. You know there's times when you're working that hard, and sometimes you just get off track and you go off on your own crazy tangents. Josh, Ted and I would get so wild....and do something that didn't really fit the script. Those were the moments that I wish had been cut out.
The DVD set contains "complete and uncut" episodes. What new stuff should fans expect to see?
LL: I think the new content is a V-track (video commentary). They've got me and Renee doing behind-the-scenes [interviews]. It's where you get to see laughing and inappropriate moments, and get the real scoop on what was going on. Directors, they're all better at telling those stories than I am.
Are these interviews that were shot during the show?
LL: No, they're things that we're doing now. We will be doing season four, and season five and six. It's unbelievable that there is still so much demand for a show that's been off the air. I mean it's on Oxygen [Network], but you have to have cable to get it. But it's created this vibrant community and we're still getting mail. It's unbelievable.
On average, how long did it take to film an episode of Xena? How many hours did you shoot each day?
LL: It would take eight days of main units five days of second units, so about 13 days of crew work. It depended on the episode of course. If Rob Tapert was directing then the show would just be huger and huger and more complex.
Did you train a lot before doing the fight scenes?
LL: No, I kinda got thrown in the deep end there. That was not my thing at all. I was this wheezy, kind of non-physical person, I had no interest. I still have no interest! (Laughs.) But I just got thrown in there and I had to learn it. Otherwise I just got punched (laughs). I got the crap beaten out of me for about three years before I managed to avoid the bruises, but I was covered in them for years. I wasn't quick enough [before]. Now I'm pretty good. I can react without even thinking – you know, somebody throws something and I can catch it without even looking. I can do those things unconsciously. If I tried I know I would screw up. Unco, [standing for] “uncoordinated,” that was my former nickname.
Do you think there's room for another chapter in the Xena series? Maybe a side-story or a movie of some kind?
LL: Yeah, I do, but if they don't hurry up and figure out who's got the right idea then I'll just be too old.
Are you familiar with any of the video games based on Xena: Warrior Princess?
LL: Yes, I played the first one that came out. I think there's only one, isn't there?
I think there's one on PlayStation and a different one on Nintendo 64.
LL: That's right, I think PlayStation was the one [I played]. And of course I'm into other games. But I'm one of those people that when I play video games I get really hyped up. I can't really play them because I just get into it way too much.
What other games have gotten you hyped up like that?
LL: I really do have to avoid them. I remember when I was going through my divorce with my other marriage, it was back in the days of Tetris (laughs). And I know this is ridiculous, but in order to just escape the reality of my world, I would just take Tetris for hours and hours until I was seeing a block falling every time I closed my eyes. Do you have that? What do you play?
I play everything. There's a game called Tetris Attack, which is kind of a souped-up version of Tetris for the Super NES.
LL: So when you close your eyes at night do you see it?
I actually have dreamt about video games, which is just scary.
LL: Now there's a movie!
Yeah, there's an idea for a crazy character.
LL: My husband, Robert Tapert, has this idea where a cyber character living in a cyber world doesn't know that it's also an action figure. And every time someone tries to play the game the character gets sucked out of their matrix, their real world, which is not real. And eventually the cyber character escapes the game, breaks into real life, becomes a human being. That is the role I would love to do. Kind of like Run Lola Run, that kind of pace.
Besides Xena, which character have you enjoyed playing the most?
LL: I like the bad girls. Bad, funny girls. The younger Xena, the one you only see in flashbacks, she was really fun to play. And I really liked playing [Madame] Vandersexxx in Eurotrip, which comes out next week (2-20-04).
What was it like working on Eurotrip?
LL: Fantastic. Those guys are comic geniuses, the same guys that did Old School and Road Trip. And all goes back to Stripes, and the National Lampoon era. It seems obvious, but comedies are much more fun to work on. Like every day is just a blast during comedies.
Tell us about your other upcoming movie, Boogeyman.
LL: That is me doing a cameo for my husband. I'm playing a drug-addicted mother, you only see her in flashbacks with Tim. He's played by Barry Watson, who I like a lot. He's a good guy, a real solid actor.
What are the major differences between film and TV?
LL: A lot of film producers are so d**m mighty, they're really quite high and mighty. And they often think, "Oh, we'll just go dabble in television." And they just find that they can't hack it, because with television you've got to come up with those ideas every week. So you've gotta be on a train and have incredible stamina for television. A lot of them crap out.
Movies are hard in a different way, 'cause you work five years, two years, on one movie, and you only get one weekend for it to be a hit. It's very rare occasions like American Pie where it hits and then it just keeps growing. Evidently that's a young people phenomena.
You did Broadway for a short time in 1997. Is that something you'd want to do again?
LL: I think I would actually. It depends on the material and the people you're working with, but there's nothing like it.
Some actors think it's really stressful, others enjoy doing it. How do you feel about it?
LL: I love it all. I love every aspect of performance. It's a little bit like acting if you got punched in the stomach 'cause you risk failing every time, and God knows I've had my share of that. But I don't know, I have some sort of gene in me that allows me to get back up. You risk failing but you also can succeed hugely in life. [That's important] 'cause we're not here a really long time. Somehow I'm really aware of that.
What about voice work? Was it hard to get into the role of a cartoon character?
LL: It was kind of difficult actually because it's not like acting. If you just do natural acting it doesn't come across, so you've gotta be hyped up a little bit. Basically I knew was in a whole new world so I did whatever they told me. And if they told me a particular way I outright copied them.
What do you have lined up next? What will you be doing over the next few months?
LL: I'm promoting things I've already finished. Also, I'm in negotiations about doing a...there's a couple of television shows in LA that I'm kinda up for. So we're at a pretty delegate stage at the moment. So hopefully I'll be doing one of those and working on some more great comedies. That's what I love.
That's all the questions I have. Thank you for a great interview.
LL: Thank you for good questions.
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Official Site for Xena and Hercules: http://www.xenahercules.tv/