Teletext - Star Talk (UK)

25 June 2004

Lucy conquers Xenaphobia

Lawless: Less action

Amazonian actress Lucy Lawless will be best remembered as Xena, Warrior Princess, the leather-clad TV character she played for six years.

The New Zealander has found that when you've had a high profile television image it can be hard to translate that into a successful film career.

Instead, the 35-year-old has had to content herself with supporting roles in the likes of Spider-Man, the upcoming Boogeyman and new release Eurotrip.

"For Eurotrip I got to go to Prague who in their right mind wouldn't go to Prague for work?" she says. She plays dominatrix Madame Vandersexxx in the teen comedy about a group of Americans on holiday in Europe.

Lawless took in the city's hardcore sex shops to prepare for her role: "They have all kinds of extreme stuff. We went to one called Rubber Land and they supplied all the stuff we needed for the movie."

And the visit led to a case of mistaken identity.

"I told them I was Lucy Lawless and they were like: 'Oh sure, come in, we know just what you want,'" she says.

Out came a wide selection of dominatrix gear, which had the down-to-earth Kiwi a little surprised: "They thought I was a famous porn star in America," she laughs.

The best part about making the youth-orientated Eurotrip was being around a lot of young people, says Lawless.

"When you're on a set like that it feels like you're a teenager yourself, it's a great feeling. You also have the best time when you're doing comedy."

She is now the mother of three children with American husband Robert Tapert (a former Xena producer) so she's put away her warrior outfit.

If there's ever a film version of Xena, she thinks it will have to star someone else.

"If they ever get around to it I might be too old. I would really hate it if they came and asked me to be the mother of Xena."

We are about to see the statuesque brunette in some more dramatic roles in the upcoming drama Boogeyman she plays a drug addict mother who gives her kids up for adoption.

But most of the work offers she receives are still action scripts: "I get a lot of scripts for sci-fi adventures and vampire movies where there's a lot of stunt work, so yes, I do feel typecast. On the other hand, I work in movies, for goodness sake."

During six years of stunt-dominated work on Xena, Lawless never suffered a serious injury, but she did break her hip falling off a horse when guesting on the Jay Leno Tonight show.

While she says she's finished playing fighting women, she does do some spots of action on the five-part television series Warrior Women on the Discovery Channel.

Her personal favourite was the Irish pirate queen Grace O'Malley during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

"She was the Demi Moore of her day," laughs Lawless. "Sexually liberated and had a young lover. The queen rather liked her."