In one of Lucy Lawless’ most recent roles, she played a detective in the Australian crime drama My Life Is Murder.
This time she is on the wrong side of the law in Three’s telefeature drama Toke where she is cast as a powerful player in the illegal drugs trade.
Lawless plays Duke, a glamorous American, who hears about a new strain of marijuana in New Zealand and wants in.
“She wants a piece of that action – not just a piece, she wants all the action,” says Lawless.
The former Xena star describes Duke as a female Mr Asia.
Toke revolves around three kiwifruit orchard workers in the Coromandel who discover a strong strain of marijuana and subsequently become embroiled in a criminal underworld.
Tatum Warren-Ngata (Ahikāroa), Tia Maipi (Born To Dance) and Troy Kingi (The Pa Boys, Mt Zion) play the orchard workers.
“They are hapless, lovable stoners who inadvertently become drug kingpins and have to deal with all the trouble that brings,” says Lawless.
And if that wasn’t enough, Lawless’ Duke has another problem.
“There is also a local villain in the community who is moving in on them, so they are caught in this terrible pincer and they and the whole community are drawn into a real fight for sovereignty for their homeland and their product.”
Other familiar faces in the cast include Roimata Fox (The Ring Inz), Josh McKenzie (Bad Mothers) and Xavier Horan (Westside).
“The show kind of reminds me of going back to New Zealand in the 80s when New Zealand had amazing action-adventure movies like Came A Hot Friday and Goodbye Pork Pie,” says Lawless. “They were just a romp. This is like that.”