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Lucy, Honestly

Grace Magazine
June/July 1998

page 65

Click here for high resolution scans of this photoshoot

Please note: This photoshoot took place around July 1997

Lucy Lawless in the morning. Vulnerable. Open. Taken from a collection of vivid portraits in a new book by Sally Tagg.

Lucy Lawless sits bleakly at her kitchen table in the hard morning light. No make-up. Hair tousled. A cup of tea steams in her hand. Can this be the international star who plays games of verbal chess with talk-show hosts? Is this Xena, Warrior Princess? Yes and no. This is the real Lucy Lawless, raw and vulnerable, captured for a few vivid seconds by the lens of portrait photographer Sally Tagg.

The shots appear in Tagg's new book of celebrity portraits, On Top Down Under (HarperCollins, $39.95), a collection of fresh and quirky images of well-known New Zealanders, with words by Witi Ihimaera.

Tagg admits she was skeptical about the chances of Lawless agreeing to be photographed for the book. When she said yes, Tagg was surprised and delighted.

"But due to her schedule, it had to be at 7am at her house. That was the thing. It was really early and I arrived knowing that we hadn't arranged hair or make-up or anything like that. Basically she greeted me looking as if she was about to sit down for a cup of tea and toast. She told me: 'Well, I want people to see me as I really am and this is me.'"

Tagg asked: "Well, do you want to brush your hair?"

"No," she replied. "I don't."

Says Tagg: "I thought even without that, she in fact looked gorgeous. She had absolutely no make-up on and it felt totally appropriate to put her in the kitchen because it was so early and she had the little one (daughter Daisy, 10). We just started shooting. The interesting thing about that particular day was that she was due to fly out that afternoon to Las Vegas. Really, I could tell she was exhausted and I felt really kind of ..... I felt a lot of respect for her because she was giving her time to something and she was also being very vulnerable, she was making herself very vulnerable as to how she looked. She wanted the shots to be really honest."

At one stage, Lawless found a Las Vegas headline in that day's paper, folded it into a hat and plonked it on her head. The jauntiness of that silly hat contrasts sharply with her total weariness.

The thing that stuck in my mind most of all was when she said. 'You've got to be careful what you wish for.' In some of the shots you could even see the tears in her eyes.

"I said, ' Do you want me to stop?' She said, 'Nah, just shoot it.' Really, I was near tears too. What happens with shoots like that is they are precious because they are so real and because she has the courage to share them and share that part of her and it makes her real for us."

(abbreviated - the article goes on to talk about the book)

The book is due out in July.

An exhibition of photos from the book is on at Auckland's Aotea Centre from July 11 to 23, and at Wellington's Bowen Gallery August 3 to 15.