New Strait Times
(Malay Mail Online)

27 March 2004

"I Love Lucy"

Cover Story:
I Love Lucy

HOW does one go about interviewing a warrior princess? The answer is, with caution.

Thus, it was an awkward first few minutes for yours truly, during the phone interview with Lucy Lawless a.k.a. Xena, The Warrior Princess.

After all, one must be careful not to step (accidentally or otherwise) on her toes for fear of getting a kick in the ass. This is Xena we're talking about.

Fortunately, that tough persona is only for show, as the real Lucy Lawless, born Lucille Francis Ryan, is a down-to-earth talkative lady.

Lucy exuded warmth and answered each question confidently, even prodding ones about her regrets of not appearing in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy! Yup, Lucy revealed much exclusive stuff to Buzz for all the readers hungry to know if she'll get back her chakram (Xena's deadly weapon that works like a boomerang) and revive the cultist TV series.


Lucy was in Los Angeles when the interview was set. She was in the process of making another splash in both TV and films.

It was definitely not an easy task convincing producers to offer her roles that will make people forget about Xena.

"At the moment, my agent and I are negotiating with several parties and hopefully, I can share the good news in the next couple of months," said Lucy.

Her acting career after Xena has been a bumpy one.

Xena Warrior Princess was axed after six seasons when the series was at its peak.

The character was decapitated in the final episode, making it almost impossible for Xena to return to the world of the living.

Yeah, she did return from the dead many times during the series' six seasons but even the warrior princess can't win hands-down when the producers pulled the plug on the series.

The break after Xena was a long one as she focussed more on her family.

Lucy has three children – Daisy,14, Julius, five and Judah, just a year and a half old.

Her daughter, Daisy, is from her first marriage to Garth Lawless in 1988, while the two boys are from her second marriage to Xena's executive producer, Robert G. Tapert in 1995.

When she decided to work again, a few interesting offers came her way including a stint in another cult show, The X-Files.

In The X-Files, Lucy played Shannon McMahon, a tough agent with a mysterious agenda.

"I'm very honoured to be part of another cult TV series," she said.

Still tagged as the warrior princess, Lucy then landed her most ambitious hosting job in The Discovery Channel.

Entitled Warrior Women, the six-episode documentary features six real life warrior women, whose courage and spirit turned them into legends.

"I got a call from my agent one day and I said yes. It was a great opportunity to be part of this incredible series," she said of Warrior Women.

Lucy turned down several TV offers to focus on the series.

"It was a great experience as I got to travel to many exotic locations and explore the background of these strong women," she said.

The six real-life warrior women featured in the show are religious French icon Joan of Arc, Irish pirate queen Grace O'Malley, the real Mulan Wang Cong'er, the apache warrior Lozen and the red-headed queen Boudica who brought the Roman Empire in Britain to its knees.

"The most challenging thing about doing this series was to keep up with the fast pace of the shoot," she said.

And of course, the elements were also a challenge since there were times when she had to shoot during unpredictable weather.

"But it was fun and exciting to learn about these brave women and I hope viewers will enjoy watching it," she said.

Asked which of the real-life warriors she can relate to most, Lucy said: "The pirate queen. She was married with three children when she started her career in the high seas, commandeering three pirate ships."


Lucy's involvement in Xena was pure luck.

Unlike other actresses who had to do many forgettable series before getting a big break, Lucy made it on her second try.

After appearing in a New Zealand TV comedy series, Funny Business, she got the opportunity to star in Hercules and The Amazon Woman.

That breakthrough role of Lysia opened the door for her to audition for Hercules The Legendary Journey.

At that time, the producers were looking for an actress to play the character of Xena, who was to appear in three episodes.

Lucy, who at that time had brown hair, was rejected by the producers.

Not willing to give up, she dyed her light hair dark brown and tried again. She landed the job! Her Xena character received good feedback from viewers, thus, the spin-off series, Xena Warrior Princess.

"It was a great show. We had a brilliant team who helped turned the series into what it was," she said.

However, Lucy admitted the character wasn't easy to play.

"Xena is a tough woman who is tormented by the sins of her past. The physical demands of shooting the series also left me exhausted," she said.

But it paid off when the series became a hit. In fact, it has fanatic followers who call themselves ‘Xenites'.

Just like other cult series, Xena became a world phenomenon. Xena conventions are held annually (just like a Star Trek convention) and it spawned numerous tie-in products from comic books to mugs to even Xena figurine.

When the show was cancelled, fanatics throughout the world started a drive to get the series back on air. Unfortunately, the producers didn't budge from their decision.

"Xena crossed boundaries due to its theme about good versus evil and friendship," Lucy said.

The bond between Xena and her side-kick Gabrielle generated much speculation among fans but of course, the one message that the series is trying to say is that friendship is forever.

Lucy said she still keeps in touch with her co-stars and had a great time talking about the series.

Thus, the next question posed to Lucy was the fate of the series.

"I've no idea but I don't think there's any possibility of Xena being revived," she said.

She said the main reason was due to the rights to the series which had not been resolved.

"Until this issue is settled, I don't think there'll be a new series," she said.

However, she admitted there had been talks about bringing Xena to the big screen.

"It'll be great to see her on the big screen and yes! I'll do it if the project is on," she said.


Talking about feature films, Lucy has two films showing this year.

The first is Eurotrip, which was released recently in the States, and The Boogeyman, coming out soon.

"I just play small roles in both films," she said.

In Eurotrip, she plays a character named Madame Vandersexxx! "It was fun working with that cast. It's a fun movie targeted at teenagers," she said.

Oh, by the way, she did appear in Spiderman as a punk rock girl! Which one? Well, you'll have to watch closely to find out.

Spiderman was a huge success and made stars out of Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and also started what is expected to be a successful franchise. Spiderman 2 is slotted for release in July.

But Spiderman is not the only blockbuster Lucy had a go at.

"I was asked to read for a female part in The Lord of the Rings," she admitted.

Unfortunately, the offer didn't come at the right time.

"I was pregnant at that time. And I was also in the midst of shooting Xena," she said.

She said it was a tough period for her and she just didn't have enough energy to go for the audition.

Asked which part she was supposed to read for, Lucy replied: "I'm not sure but there were only two or three female roles in that film," she said.

Now that the Lord of the Rings trilogy turned out to be a huge success, does she regret not trying out for the role? "No. But of course, it would have been great if I was part of this success. But truthfully, it did break my heart not being part of the film," she said.


Lucy's last work on TV is Tarzan, in which she plays the character of Kathleen Clayton. Touted as the next Smallville, Tarzan, which featured Calvin Klein underwear model Travis Fimmel, only lasted eight episodes before it was cancelled due to poor ratings.

"I have no comment about Tarzan except that the character of Kathleen Clayton is a much different role compared to those I played before," she said.

On strong roles for women, Lucy said it was about time that women be given the same opportunity as their male peers.

Lucy said she would like to work with creative directors like Peter Jackson, Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese, among others, in her future projects.

İNew Straits Times (M) Berhad