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Sunday Telegraph TV Guide

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What Xena Did Next - Lucy Lawless Battles Her Alter Ego

Lucy Fights Back

by Jeanette L. Gibbs

Scans & Transcript by MaryD

Once a warrior princess, always a warrior princess. Just ask Lucy Lawless.

Lucy LawlessOff-screen, Lucy Lawless is regarded as a modern-day Xena: feminist role model for legions of pre-teens and pin-up material for her older sisterhood.

The persona of the role she left behind in late 2000 is so strong her fans forget Lawless is an actor, not a warrior princess. In Los Angeles to discuss future career moves, the mother of three is forever hounded by fans asking whether Xena will return from the dead ... again.

"It's a great role, that's the truth, and if you're an actress who wants to play fascinating characters, you can't do greater than Xena, because she's very tormented and strong and yet vulnerable in all of the wrong places," she says at the end of a long day of interviews.

"There's talk of a movie, which I would consider, although no-one is sure who owns the rights. There was some sort of glitch back in the beginning and now it would be a matter of litigation.

"Meanwhile, I'd love to play the lead role in a film," she laughs. "But who wouldn't?"

The crossover between Xena and Lawless isn't helped by a recent UK study of more than 2000 people in which at least one per cent believed Xena was a real historical figure. Even while waiting for her next screen role, Lawless finds it difficult to shake the warrior princess tag.
Her most recent project is hosting a five-part series, Warrior Women. In what is a heady mix of historical sleuthing and provocative reconstruction, the series brings to life history's most charismatic female warriors. Among them is the 19-year-old French crusader Joan of Arc, who led the French to victory over the British, only to be martyred and burnt at the stake; Boadicea, a red-haired queen who brought the Roman Empire to its knees in Britain; Chinese
heroine Hua Mulan who challenged the emperor of China in search of justice; the Irish pirate Grace O'Malley, who mastered sail and sword and won the respect of Queen Elizabeth I; and Apache warrior Lozen, the powerful shamaness and wife of Geronimo, who used her psychic abilities to lead her people to Mexico and safety. When asked if she sees herself in any of these women Lawless takes just a moment to contemplate: "I have some of their attributes. I think we all have a little bit of them within us.

"Personally, I'd compare myself mostly with Grace O'Malley from Ireland. My ancestry is from the same area, so I understand her culture."

While Lawless missed out on joining the cast of The Lord of the Rings trilogy because she was pregnant at the time, not all her work has been based on strong feminine roles. In her most recent movie, Lawless starred as a drug-addicted mother in The Boogeyman, which was produced by her husband Rob Tapert.

Later, Lawless had what she refers to as a "big" cameo in Eurotrip as a Dutch brothel keeper, Madame Vandersexxx.
And her status as a gay icon was given a boost by a little publicised job narrating Totally Gayer, a documentary about sexuality in the 21st century.

Yet it is the Warrior Women series that Lawless is most excited about. She says that apart from telling the stories of these remarkable women, the series carries a message: "The triumph of the human spirit. To endeavour. The need to be true to one's self and your goal and your purpose in life.

"Many of us tend to think this is a new phenomenon, but, in fact, women have always been leaders of men, it's simply that it was written out of history."
Having played leather-clad Xena for six seasons, Lawless says viewers will relate to these warriors of old. And just as Xena had a message of hope and strength to viewers, Lawless has these words of encouragement: "Be as courageous as possible. Go hard and live a rich life. That's the only chance you have of reaching your goals."
Like the loincloth before it, the codpiece has disappeared from our screens. The fashion accessory, formerly favoured by Xena, Hercules and Conan, has been replaced by the steel-capped work boot - care of the recent infatuation with renovations. It's now only found resting upside down on kitchen tables filled with fruit, or at bad costume parties in aid of forgotten charities. The codpiece is dead. Long live the codpiece.
Warrior Women is on Mon to Fri, from May 3 at 9:30 pm on Discovery


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