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The Xena Files

NZ Woman's Weekly

1 December 2001

Scanned by Roger / Transcribed by MaryD

Lucy Lawless reveals the naked truth about her new role in The X-Files - and how she manages to look so good in those sexy swimming scenes.

These are happy times for the woman best known as Xena, Warrior Princess. Lucy Lawless is happily married, pregnant with her third child and she's recently discovered "the truth is out there". Yes, the Kiwi actress has landed a starring role in The X-Files.

Lucy joins the show for the first two episodes of its ninth season - and possibly more as it turns out her character has a history with Agent Doggett (Robert Patrick).

"Oh yes, The Xena Files," teases Lucy. "You didn't know what it stood for all those years, did you? But the show's producer has just been leading up to this moment where he could finally get the eponymous character in and, here in the ninth season, they've managed to carve away half of their budget to secure me for their opening couple of shows. So here I am!"

So The X-Files has been The Xena Files all this time then?

"Don't tell anybody," she jokes. "Yeah, it's a conspiracy, a big cover-up, you see. But now it's out in the open."
The truth is, Lucy was thrilled to land a guest role on the show, playing a character called Shannon McMahon, who she describes as "a loose cannon".

Since the final episode of Xena wrapped, she's been enjoying having time to spend with her husband, RobTapert, and children, Daisy (12) and Julius (two). But she was ready for a new challenge.

Lucy wasn't entirely a stranger to X-Files producer Chris Carter.

"Some years ago, he was very nice to me when he didn't need to be - this was purely in a social setting," she explains.

"So when he rang me up and asked me to be in their season opener, I said, 'I'd love to be on your show.' It was really a personal thank you to him because he had been very gracious to me and to my co-star on Xena, Renee O'Connor.

"Actually, I was on holiday in Hawaii and Chris phoned and said, 'Would you come and do our opening couple of episodes?' I said, 'I'd love to do that for you, Chris'. "And he said, 'Well, there is one thing - you've got to spend half your time buck-naked.'

Buck-naked? "Yes. I keep thinking it's butt-naked but it's not, is it? It's buck-naked. My character swans around in water - it's always water scenes. Naked water sports with strategically placed bubbles and a really awesome stunt butt.

"Not that there's anything wrong with mine! But, you know, you just want one of those women with kick-ass bodies who spend hours at the gym every day. And I ain't one of those. But I love the women who are. So I got this wonderful woman to double for me. It's The X-Rated Files," she smiles. "We decided we had to spice it up this year!"

Lucy was already more than familiar with the show, thanks to her daughter Daisy. "The X-Files is a must-see at my house," she admits. "Daisy's seen every single episode she possibly could. According to Daisy, I was finally cool when I got a part on The X- Files."

The high kicks and Xena yelps that have become Lucy's trademarks weren't much use to her on the set of The X-Files. She had to focus on a much more understated style of acting.

"The first day, I was totally confused because they'd say to me, 'Now, can you walk 10 metres in those high heels and then the shot is over'. I'm going, 'Don't you want me to slug someone or kick them in the head?'" she laughs.

"To me, it was so ludicrously easy physically that I felt really under-utilised. But the acting was hard. It was a challenge because it was a whole different style and I had to dive into this ultra-naturalistic, buttoned-up style of acting. I really enjoyed it."

Working with actors like Robert Patrick, Gillian Anderson and Annabeth Gish was also a great experience but Lucy admits she found the serious mood on the set very different to the light-hearted atmosphere she enjoyed while working on Xena here in New Zealand.

"At first, I found it very serious and I'd get the giggles because I come from a set where no one took anything seriously, ever. It was a rule. So I just looked like this naughty kid, guffawing away in the corner to myself," she admits.

While she's keen to continue flexing her acting muscles, Lucy admits her priorities have shifted now so she'll be picking and choosing roles carefully. "I've got children who need me and maybe I'm looking for a different type of life," she explains.

"But they have a way of luring you back in with great parts and great scenes and The X-Files has been a great adventure for me."

Her family brings Lucy joy - and just a little bit of stress. "I've got this beautiful daughter who's 13 and experiencing all the joys and horrors of being in those early teen years and I have a boy who's a terrible two-year-old.

"He's so funny and cute that I don't get horribly angry with him but he's so naughty. He's like a tank. I should have called him Sherman instead of Julius. I rue the day I called him something imperial like Julius because he's like, Julius, Destroyer of Nations: 'This nice vase - bang!' He just makes me laugh because what do I care about antiques? But yeah, Destroyer of Antiques."

With another baby on the way, Lucy's going to have her hands full. She probably wouldn't have time to return to a show like Xena - which meant long days on location - even if she wanted to. So will the warrior princess ever be reincarnated?

Lucy shakes her head. "I'm really proud to have been part of a show like Xena but I think she existed in a moment in time and, if we brought it back, it would be overwrought. Renee and I are certainly not the young girls we were when it started. So I don't see that as being a possibility.

"My dream is to do two movies a year and raise my kids. I'm doing everything I can to help myself. I'm having a good life. By the time I'm 80 or 90 - God willing I live that long - I think I'll look back and go, 'I really went for it. I didn't let myself down. I wasn't afraid to try and fail'." Kenneth Hubbard