November 24, 1995
LUCY LAWLESS OF 'XENA"
TOYS IN BABELAND
WANT TO MAKE LUCY LAWLESS mad as Hades? Just ask the star of Xena: Warrior Princess about her soon-to-be-released
action figure. "It looks like they put my head on a He-Man's body!" she huffs. "It's got these enormously muscular arms. They could shave a few bloody cubic inches off that dolly!"
Still, the leather-clad Xena is no Barbie - and neither is Lawless (yes, that is her real name). On the phone from her native New Zealand, where Xena is filmed, the six-foot actress sounds like a female Charles Barkley. "I
don't want any of this role-model nonsense," declares Lawless, 27, whose show is the highest-rated new syndicated series. "I don't want anyone copying me...don't waste your time." She waxes tough on subjects ranging from
her hair dye ("I love being a brunet. People are kind of intimidated") to the show's kung fu-style fight scenes ("I've hit plenty of people on the set, and it's great because stuntmen don't cry").
How'd the blue-eyed Kiwi get such brass? Her far-from-Hollywood upbringing probably has something to do with it. Lawless - who recently separated from her husband and lives in Auckland with her 7-year-old daughter, Daisy -
took off at 18 to go "grape picking on the Rhine," then headed for Australia to work in a gold mine. She eventually turned to acting, snagging spots on commercials down under before her breakthrough last year as the
archvillainess on Hercules.
Next came the Herculean task of turning the butchering Xena into a spin-offworthy heroine. "We're trying a 12-step program," says executive producer Rob Tapert. The actress, meanwhile, started a physical regimen. Once
nicknamed Unco (for uncoordinated), Lawless hired a personal trainer last summer and did a stint in L.A. with a martial-arts master. But perhaps her biggest challenge has been squeezing into her costume: "It makes you
crotchety to be trussed up like a chicken," she says. "I think that's why Xena's such a grump." - A.J. Jacobs