By L. A. Vess
We recently caught up with former "Xena" star Lucy Lawless making the pilot season rounds in Los Angeles, what she calls "the roller coaster of hell." The public hasn't seen much of Lawless since her brief guest role on "The X-Files" and her animated appearance on "The Simpsons" (oh yeah, and that tiny walk-on in Spiderman), but now she's back and ready for action. With two new film appearances under her belt, possible "negotiations" in the works for a TV show, and the new Xena Season Three DVD set on the shelves - she's one busy lady, and loving every crazy minute of it.
Lucy Lawless may have missed out on appearing in The Lord of the Rings trilogy because she was pregnant at the time, but she's still got plenty of pans in the fire. For one thing, gay fans may not have realized it, but she recently narrated VH1's "Totally Gayer," a documentary about sexuality in the 21st Century.
Lawless also has what she calls a "big" cameo in Eurotrip, a raunchy film about a guy who travels to Europe with his pals to meet his online dream girl and finds more adventures than he bargained for. Eurotrip was recently released in theaters and DVDs for the movie are on presale.
Lawless plays Madame Vandersexxx in the film, a sadistic Dutch brothel keeper. Lawless' costume for the movie was recently auctioned off to raise money for The Trevor Project, a nonprofit endeavor establish to promote tolerance for gay and questioning teenages, and to aid in suicide prevention among that group.
The Boogeyman, produced by Lawless' husband Rob Tapert, features her as the drug-addicted mother of a disturbed boy who reluctantly returns home as an adult to face his fears of a monstrous entity. The Boogeyman is currently in post-production.
Lawless also narrated "Warrior Women," a Discovery Channel five-part documentary series about famous female warriors throughout history. The series has been shown in the UK and several other countries, but has not yet aired in the U.S. Lawless will also be performing at the Broadway..and All That Jazz benefit concert in August to raise money for northern California AIDS organizations.
In the midst of promotional appearances, filming, networking and charity fundraisers, Lawless still finds time to squeeze in time to re-connect with the fans of the show that launched her to stardom. The enormous sales of DVDs, videos, CDs and merchandise from "Xena" continue to prove that the legacy of the Warrior Princess will live on indefinately. Season 3 of the hit show just came out on DVD and Season 4 is on the way. And of course, there is Xena apparel, Xena jewelry, Xena toys, Xena weapons, Xena travel gear -- practically Xena-anything you could wish for still finding its way into fans' homes day after day. So it is no wonder that Lawless never seems to mind stopping for a chat about the series that has made her a household name.
Interviewing Lucy Lawless is an interesting experience, you just never know quite what she's going to say or where the conversation will go. So I wasn't alltogether suprised when she started out the exchange by greeting me with my (secret) pet name and proceeding to interview me for a solid three minutes.
We never did quite establish how she knew my girlfriend's pet name for me, but I think I really don't want to know. She seemed impressed that I was calling her from Charleston, SC, which she called "a legendary place" - and I call "rather boring" - but couldn't quite understand why I wasn't in Los Angeles slaving away in the Lesbianation main offices. This lead to a discussion about my propensity for traveling constantly, moving to random places every three years, and my glorius plans to make lesbian-friendly Seattle my next port of call. Finally, after establishing that I was actually supposed to be interviewing her, and not the other way around, we got down to the business at hand.
Lesbianation: So how are you doing today Lucy?
Lucy Lawless: Stormin' man, stormin'!
LL: Ya, I'm feeling good, feeling good.
LN: Fabulous, so what are you up to these days?
LL: I'm on the roller coaster of hell, the pilot season in L. A. But its really exciting, one day you've got everything in the world at your feet, and the next day you've got shit... I don't know, I couldn't be happier.
LN: Well, let me start off asking you a little bit about the Xena Season Four DVD set that just came out.
LL: Season Four?
LN: Arrghh. Sorry, Season Three. I swear, I get so confused.
LL: Me too, and don't ask me specifics about episodes cause I'm like... I'm the world's most live in the moment human being, I can't even remember yesterday, I really really can't. Quite often I don't even know what day it is or sometimes I have to ask what month it is. It's a little embarrasing, but that's me.
LN: Well there is one episode I'm sure you do remember, 'The Bittersuite.' You can't forget that one.
LL: (Laughs) Yeah, I can't forget that one.
LN: Were you worried at the time about what people would think of a big Xena musical?
LL: No, why would I be worried about that?
LN: It was kind of an innovative idea for the show, a little unusual.
LL: Yeah, no, god no. I was always just like running to keep up with the demands of my job, I never stopped to question what the wider world would think of anything. You just try to make every day as good as you can and have as much fun as you can while you're doing it. So, for the most part we really succeeded. And you know, some of that was just genius, you know all of that stuff in the beginning with the Tarot and Hudson popping up. That was just fantastic work and really a lot of that credit has to go to Rob (Tapert) and the writers.
LN: When I talked to Renee (O'Connor) a few months ago, she said she loved doing the commentary for the DVD sets because she got to hang out with you. Was it a lot of fun for you too, or was it kind of like just another day at the job?
LL: No, 'cause when do I ever hang out and talk about Xena? Never. Renee and I talk on the phone and she was supposed to come over and stay the night the other day, but her little boy got sick and so they didn't come. Yeah, I spent six years of my life side by side with her, you know, so she's really a sister to me and we miss each other. We grew together. We are very different people and we have very different brains and the way we look at life is almost diametrically opposed, but because we were... I'll finish it with "forged in the heat of battle" that's all I can say.
LN: You've got two movies coming out that you're appearing in - Eurotrip and The Boogeyman. What can you tell me about your roles in those projects?
LL: Well, I'm going on Jimmy Kimmel and they tried to find some clips from Eurotrip of my stuff and they realized that the standards and broadcasting authority, whatever its called here, would never allow any of it.
LN: Oh my.
LL: Yeah, Because it's an R movie, you know, its a little grown up and also my role, I'm playing Madame Vandersexxx, a dutch brothel keeper. One of the boys falls into her clutches and she proceeds to show him a good time, in her very own special way... it is quite racy and I think that's only going to help cement this rauncy image people have of me. What are you gonna do?
LN: Now, in The Boogeyman, you're playing a completely different kind of character.
LL: Right, I'm playing a drug-addicted mother who gives up custody of her son cause she just can't leave her addiction along and that causes him problems in later in life, of course, its always the mother's fault.
LN: So what are the other projects you have coming up?
LL: Oh, I'm in very delicate negotiations about television shows... and that's kind of killing me. And I'll either end up with everything or nothing, like I said before. I'm having some great meetings, I met with Mike Judge yesterday on something he's doing. It was funny, they sent me the script, which is just the scenes you'll be auditioning for, and at 10AM in the morning I said: "Yes I'm going to drive right down there now and meet this guy... I want to make sure this happens today." So I went down there and finished reading the script while I was sitting outside. And I said: "oh this is great, Mike Judge wants to meet me, they finally found out that I'm a comedic genius." And then I read down the screen directions and it says 'huge Chyna-like woman' - -- "oh my god they only want me because they think I look like Chyna!" No offense Chyna, but its nice to be known for what you do, rather than who you look like, you know.
LN: You'd think your comedic genius would be established by now, you had the best roles on Xena doing such great bits.
LL: You know, people don't know that though, the show was more known than it was watched. So they don't know it was a comedy show. They think it was a serious, kung-fu stupid drama, they don't realize that it was all... how do you describe it, cause it was dramatic in places, but it was also incredibly kitsch and tongue in cheek and we never pretended to be serious anything. We were just serious about making a kooky show.
LN: The drama was wonderful, but it was the comedy that really got the fans engaged; the people who watched it all the time.
LL: And the friendship. It worked on a lot of levels other shows don't, and I guess that's why the show has such legs. The demand for things like the DVDs, and the cyber community that still exists in the name of the show, they just continue and its still pulling in new fans - it's quite amazing.
LN: I know your family is very important to you, do you find it hard to maintain a balance between your work and your family sometimes?
LL: Well, its been all family for a long time, and now I've just seriously gotten back... I've gotten hungry again, let's put it that way. I can only cross that bridge when I come to it. So far we're doing okay.
LN: You're known for being rather adventurous sometimes. What do you like to do best when you're not having to work, when you're on holiday?
LL: You know, I can't stand being on holiday, I cannot stand it. Don't want it.
LN: That's unusual.
LL: Yeah, I just want to hang out with my friends; eat and drink. I just discovered skiing this past Christmas, we went up to Canada, that's something new for me. I like to have short holidays and pack a lot in, and then I want to get back to work because my hobby is performance. Well, not just my hobby, it's my work, but it's also what I love to do and I can't stand to be away from it for too long.
LN: There speaks a true performer.
LL: (Laughs) Yeah.
LN: Is there anything you always wish people would ask you about, but never do?
LL: No, you just get sick of talking about yourself. I wish they would ask me more would you come and do my comedy movie. Would you come and work with Martin Scorsese?
For more information on the Xena Season Three DVD set, or to check out other Xena goodies, visit Davis-Anderson Merchandising.
© 2004 Laura Vess; All Rights Reserved.