The Straits Times

MAY 6, 2004
Women of substance

She was the female hero in Xena: Warrior Princess, butas TV host in Warrior Women, Lucy Lawless lays down her sword to look at brave women in history

By Sherwin Loh

SHE carved her TV career by playing the heroine in Xena: Warrior Princess.

Now, Lucy Lawless gets to talk about the historical female figures that were very likely the inspiration behind her fictional TV character.

Lawless, 36, is hosting Warrior Women, a five-part documentary on the Discovery Channel which delves into the lives of great females over the last 2,000 years.

They include French martyr Joan of Arc, Irish pirate Grace O'Malley, English Queen Boudica and Apache Indian Lozen.

'Who else were they going to call?' the New Zealand actress quipped with a laugh when recalling how she had said yes when the producers contacted her to host the show.

The documentary not only chronicles the lives of the women but also analyses them, she said.

'In the case of Joan of Arc, we put forward the question of her vanity. Did she have a personality disorder? Was she a troubled youth?'

Although not involved in the creative aspect of the documentary, such themes are not new to Lawless, who examined violence, angst, love and wit in her portrayal of Xena from 1995 to 2001.

Created by director Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert, Xena was a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of female power as Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor) travelled the world battling evil. The show generated legions of female fans around the world.

Speaking from Los Angeles last month, where she was discussing other projects, Lawless admitted that being Xena was still a big part of her life.

After all, she met her husband, Tapert, 49, during the filming of TV's Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, where he served as producer and she was a guest actress.

Xena's character first appeared in the Hercules series starring Kevin Sorbo, after which she starred in the spin-off series.

'Xena's all over my house. That's my husband's favourite show, so really, it's just part of my day. I've got a couple of Xena bobble heads on my fridge,' said Lawless, who was born Lucille Frances Ryan.

She lives in Auckland with her husband and their three children - Daisy, 15, Julius, five, and Judah, two.

But as passionate as she is about Xena, don't expect to see the return of the leather-clad heroine anytime soon.

She rules out a big screen version because of the series' ownership issues.

One of her regrets is missing out on being a part of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, which was produced in New Zealand.

'I don't regret not trying out for a role because I was having a baby. Nevertheless, I think every actor and actress would regret not being part of something that made film history, that was so beautifully executed.'


  • Warrior Women airs nightly this week on Discovery Channel (StarHub Ch 12) at 10pm, with a repeat telecast at 6am and 2pm.
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