BBC Radio Interview Up All Night Interviews Lucy Lawless 15 June 2012
Posted on: 15th June 2012
We hear from Lucy Lawless, who plays Xena the Warrior Princess. She’s admitted taking part in a Greenpeace protest on board an oil-drilling ship as it was trying to leave a port in New Zealand. She could face up to three years in jail, but says she’s just a normal middle class person who has to fight like a tiger to protect the future for her kids.
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW
Transcript by Barbara Davies
R5: Now the TV actress Lucy Lawless (or Xena: Warrior Princess to you and I) has admitted taking part in a Greenpeace protest on board an oil drilling ship as it was trying to leave a port in New Zealand. She was 1 of 8 activists who climbed onto the Noble Explorer in February to stop it from leaving for Alaska. Well Lucy could face up to 3 years in jail. She joins us now.
Lucy, really appreciate you talking to us. First of all, why did you take part in this protest?
Lucy: Er, cos I feel that companies like Shell don't care about my kids. They don't care about my kids living in a clean and healthy planet. They're just making bucks pumping gas to an apathetic public. And as one of those public I'm waking up.
R5: But why this specific protest? Why did you target this oil drilling ship?
Lucy: Er. Cos it was there. Yeah. I guess it was heading up to the Arctic and we believe that they're leading a charge to drill the Arctic without any contingency plans for cleaning up, you know for oil spill recovery. There's no way to do it known to man. Plus the Arctic is so under threat already, so imperilled, that we cannot be raining more fossil fuel consumption down upon it and upon our children for the next 200 years.
R5: 'Cos it was there' - remember another famous New Zealander saying that when he was about to climb Everest. Or after he climbed Everest, of course.
Lucy: <laughs> I know. My paltry 250 feet compared to Everest but ... it was there.
R5: Well no. The comparisons are there. You clearly were political before you became a famous actress -
Lucy: No, I'm not though.
R5: No? You're not?
Lucy: I'm not. I'm middle middle class New Zealand. I'm not even upper or lower middle class, I'm bang in the middle blancmange New Zealand. But as a parent I feel that I've got to fight like a tiger for my children and their children's right to a long life and a prosperous planet.
R5: But middle class blancmange New Zealanders don't face 3 years in jail. How are you facing that prospect?
Lucy: Well. I guess they do. The tide is turning.
R5: How are you facing that prospect though? What are you being charged with.?
Lucy: Oh. No. Honestly, the court system in New Zealand is really um it's very transparent and there are precedents for this kind of thing. So I think the likelihood of me getting 3 years in jail for what really amounts to trespass is, um, it's a bit of a stretch. I don't really expect any jail time whatsoever. Um. But we'll just see how it all plays out.
R5: But I s'pose you're being part of this has brought attention to the issue in New Zealand and elsewhere around the world.
Lucy: Yeah. There have been subsequent protests by Greenpeace and the Yes Men, you'll see online. They've helped spearhead this movement and 475,000 people have sent letters of protest to Shell. And you'd better believe that corporations hate nothing more than having their inboxes jammed by protest letters from consumers. But the complaints are earnest and they're right, and they need to pay attention to their public.
R5: What specifically does Shell do that no other oil company does?
Lucy: Well. The very special thing that they're doing is leading the charge. They're leading the charge. And this is a game changer. Make no mistake about it. They're very hot to trot to be the first in the Arctic. See. This is frontier drilling. Cos all the easy oil has gone. There's great reserves of it but perhaps it's in the hands of people that, you know... they're going to have to buy it. They might feel that perhaps the Arabs have us over a barrel, so to speak. So they want oil that we can control and they're going to deeper depths to drill it. They're going to more remote places. And colder places. So they don't care that they cannot clean up an oil spill they're just going to make money while they can. There's only 3 years' supply down there, you know that? They're endangering the Arctic for what amounts to 3 years' supply. So we have to transition sooner or later. Let's make it sooner while there's still an Arctic to save.
R5: With all due respect, Lucy, I'm from Nigeria and Shell's had its issues there, and I just wonder, they've essentially destroyed a lot of my birthplace through the drilling of oil and I just think that, well, better off in the Arctic than where people actually live.
Lucy: People do live there and they have a right to their traditional way of life. And I agree with you about Nigeria. There is nothing that we're saying that negates from their responsibilities to the devastation around their wells and for the communities in Nigeria. Clearly I cannot know anything about it as compared to you, but what they're doing in the Arctic is going to affect all of us and those massive snow storms you're having they're all part of that pendulum swinging. Bigger and bigger swings of more extreme weather events. So look for more on that front. We gotta stop this runaway climate change now.
R5: Doesn't sound like your protests are over.
Lucy: <laughs> It'll be over when climate change is ... when we've backed away from the tipping point. But yeah you're right, this is going to be a lifelong fight for me.
R5: Appreciate you talking to us, Lucy. Thank you.
Lucy: Thank you for having me.
See more on the AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Save The Arctic Support Page for more news, photos, video and other multimedia