NZ Woman's Day
27 August 2001
Lucy's Truth Is Out There
When Lucy Ryan was just a wee lass, her Uncle Brian asked her, "What are you gonna be when you grow up?" She turned, looked him square in the eye and said, "Famous." Lucy Lawless doesn't remember that particular family anecdote, but has no reason to doubt it. Having finished the sixth and final year of production on Xena: Warrior Princess - the fantasy action series that earned her fame in 115 countries - Lucy is now preparing for her next dose of fame, with a role in The X-Files. "As a kid, I always planned to be famous," says the 33-year old actress, sprawled in an easy chair at her spacious villa, perched on a manicured hill in Los angeles overlooking the San Fernando Valley's major movie studios. "I remember thinking, 'Imagaine what it's be loke to be Tom Cruise. Whoa!" Now I think, 'Whoa, imagine being me!' But I have a different perception of it as an adult. You learn very fast you're not famous in your living room."
Although highly motivated to gain a measure of fame, Lucy doesn't think it was the driving force in her life. Family always comes first, with her husband, Xena producer Rob Tapert, and two children on top of the pyramid. "My daughter, Daisy, is 13 and I don't want to be 80 to hear her say, 'Yes, you were a strong, independent woman who took the world by the tail, but you were a rotten mother who wasn't there for me'. That would be the greatest regret for me. Ideally, I'd like to keep working and to have more chilren. To have it all, I also have to have a happy, healthy home life."
Lucy is very close to achieving nirvana as she plays mother to her nearly two-year-old son, Julius, provides stability and security for Daisy, mulls over a slew of film and television offers and prepares to travel the world as soon as her physically depleted body can handle massive air travel. It's a particularly "delicate balancing act" as Daisy divides time between her mother and her faither, Lucy's ex-husband, Garth Lawless. Although she would have preferred to kick back for a few months longer, Lucy started production on the two-part season premiere of The X-Files. The mystery-shrouded episodes debut in the US on November 4. The storyline and her character are under such tight wraps that studio publicists have yet to read the first script. It's not known if her character is good or bard or if it will be a recurring role. And Lucy is keeping mum.
Toddler Julius, a healthy, happy kid with an affinity for Hercules action figures, does not leave her sight - except when he makes a dash for the door and falls face first into the garden. The little tough guy returns, bright-eyed and none the worse for wear, and picks up the toys where he left off. "Ju-ju is amazing, just a bulldozer of a boy," she laughs. Lucy, the fifth of seven chilren born to Julie and Frank Ryan in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert has seen it all when it comes to sibling interaction. So, she wasn't surprised when it took Daisy a while to adjust to her new brother. "At first the older kids are suspicious that the new kid will get all the love and attention," she says. "But eventually, the new child becomes just too irresistible. It helps that Julius worships her," says Lucy. "And now, I think that (Daisy) sees her baby brother as a great fashion accessory. There are kids at her school who love him and wish they had a little guy at home too."
Lucy has it all; it came at a price, but she was willing to pay. "I worked up to the eighth month of my pregnancy and came back fours weeks after Julius was born," she explains. "The first thing I did was a fight scene, which was very difficult because my body was way too delicate at the time. I didn't feel up to it physically, but the job had to be done." The most positive aspect of the exhausting experience was Julius being with her on the Xena set, plus a nanny, friends and relatives for support. "When you work on a TV series a long time, you learn how to surrender to a killer schedule and never have a social life outside the show. The cast and crew get very close when they share marriages, babies, divorces and deaths." Lucy thinks Xena could have survived a seventh season but is happy the plug was pulled after six. Xena and Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) were left heading off to Japan to take on a swarm of bloodthirsty samurai warriors. No other Xena shows - episodes or telefilms - are in the works. "It really is the way I wanted Xena to end," says Lucy. "The show was an awesome, amazing education for me, but I think we would have ended up hating each other if there had been a seventh season.
Story: Eirik Knutzen.