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Lawless Live from 'Battlestar Galactica'


1 September 2005


Lawless Live from 'Battlestar Galactica'
By Kate O'Hare

On Friday, Sept. 9, in an episode of Sci Fi Channel's space opera "Battlestar Galactica," fans are going to hear something from former "Xena: Warrior Princess" star Lucy Lawless that many have not experienced -- her own New Zealand accent.

"You haven't heard it yet, you know," says Lawless, calling in from the New Orleans set of her upcoming CBS movie "Vampire Bats" (she and the crew evacuated safely before the arrival of Hurricane Katrina), a sequel of sorts to "Locusts."

"There seems to be a spate of things where they really want me to do [the accent]," she says. "I really resisted at first -- 'Two and a Half Men' and everything -- I really didn't want to do my own. I don't know why. I just felt like it's doing a trick or something. Finally, I said OK.

"It's interesting in this case, because [my character's] a journalist, and Australians have such a reputation for having been such a major presence in the world of tabloid journalism."

In "Final Cut," written by Mark Verheiden ("Timecop," "Smallville") and directed by veteran documentarian Robert M. Young ("Children of Fate: Life and Death in a Sicilian Family," "Dominick and Eugene"), Lawless plays D'Anna Biers, a reporter for the Fleet News Service.

In the wake of shootings of civilian protestors on another ship by troops from Galactica, President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) and Capt. Adama (Edward James Olmos) grant D'Anna unlimited access to the space cruiser and its crew in hopes of improving relations between civilians and the military.

When D'Anna stumbles across a couple of hot stories, she has to decide whether she'll go along with her original plan to do a hatchet job or instead do a more balanced portrayal of life aboard the lead vessel of a ragtag space fleet of human refugees fleeing an army of mechanistic Cylons.

Asked whom she used as an inspiration for D'Anna, Lawless cites one of CNN's most visible reporters.

"I thought about Christiane Amanpour," Lawless says, "but I wanted to go a little closer to home [accent-wise]. She's got a pretty plummy accent. But I did kind of based it on her, because I wanted the performance to be visually annoying. With all respect to Christiane Amanpour, but you know how she turns her collar up? I just wanted to have things like that. I wanted her to be threatening, just in terms of fashion.

"Everybody else on Galactica is struggling. Nobody wears jewelry or anything. I thought, 'Well, people have always found ways to adorn themselves.' My character actually has some great clothes and changes of clothes. She's hooked into some black market, I don't know what.

"She's annoying in that way. I wanted her to get people's backs up from the start. My character's got all the bells and whistles and will not apologize for it, thank you very much."

Because of the character she's playing, Lawless got to work with many "Galactica" regulars.

"I was interviewing them all, so I got a real bloody good look at the cast and crew. I just adore Edward James Olmos. He's such a darling. Mary McDonnell ... legends. Some of the young crew are so impressive. They're all just bloody nice.

"I particularly liked Trisha [Helfer, who plays humanoid Cylon Number Six] and Kandyse McClure [who plays Petty Office Dualla]. I got to hang out with them more than others. They're sweet as could be and highly intelligent young women.

"You know who's the biggest surprise in all of it? Michael Hogan [who plays Col. Saul Tigh]. Oh my God, that guy is hysterical. You have no idea when you see him on screen, but he is such a goofball. I really fell in love with him."

Lawless was also thrilled to be working with Young. "He's a legend in documentaries. I so admire him. He's about 80 years old. It was such an honor for me to work with him. So all around, a great experience."

Adding a bit of cinema verite, D'Anna's news footage will be incorporated in the episode.

"I really was covering things," Lawless says. "They really were going to use the footage that I and my sidekick were taking. Sometimes he was on the camera, sometimes I had the camera, but we were really rolling video. We were making a film within a film."

Lawless has also become a "Galactica" fan. "It's really interesting, and with so many possibilities. Like with the Cylons, where are they? Do they have a soul? Are they, in fact, going to turn out to be the good guys in the end?

"The other thing that's really new about the show is the prize at the end of every episode isn't some great philosophical feel-good message -- it's pure survival. Just getting through another 12 hours is bloody victory for these people. You're rooting for them all the time, because you feel they are us."

Source: Zap2It