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We Love Lucy

Australian Lesbian Magazine

February 2007

Scans and Transcript by MaryD

After Xena, Lucy Lawless seemed to disappear. Now she's back with a new look and she's swapped sword swinging for singing. Merryn johns catches up with Lucy Lawless on the eve of her rock concert debut in Hollywood

For some of us you seem to have dropped off the map since Xena.

I kind of did drop off the map. I wanted to have a couple of extra kids and that means that my focus was really not so much on career. To come back and reintroduce yourself takes a lot of doing and I've had lots of opportunities to be more famous than I am and I turned them down for my own reasons. I'm not sorry that I'm not doing network television in the States. It's always about being offered this seven-year contract. Being a single lead means you work really super-long hours. To do seventy, eighty hour weeks is standard. I think you have to have a crushing need for attention to want to cultivate that sort of career. Celebrity seems to be its own currency, or else how could you explain somebody like Paris Hilton? But because I had chosen to have kids I wanted them to have a real mother. If my kids are miserable, I'm miserable. I guess I don't value other people's opinions of me more than I do my own. It doesn't help your career to go away but I'm not sorry. I just knew that it was important to me to have kids. I didn't want to wait too long. My daughter was already eleven by the time my second child was born. I knew I had to knock it off quickly and just let the chips fall where they may. Having kids was something I'd regret not doing. Whatever I'm doing seems like the best thing I've ever done to me. The TV critics have always been fond of me and didn't like me doing the crassly named Vampire Bats (2005). But I was so attracted to living in Louisiana I just had to take the gig. It was fantastic. I got to see New Orleans at its best right up until the time of the hurricane. I just see it all as part of a rich life.

Perhaps your major comeback appearance has been on the US reality TV show Celebrity Duets. Not many people know you can sing. How did you get the gig?

They rang my agent who said, 'No, Lucy doesn't do reality TV, she can't stand it, don't even bother coming back.' I didn't hear about it till my friend rang me and I said, 'Are you kidding? I would totally be interested at the chance to sing with someone like Smokey Robinson, the greats of Motown...'. My agents and lawyers were giving me such a hard time saying, 'Don't do it, no-one will ever take you seriously.' And I said, 'I don't care! Just make the deal.' For me it was a really life affirming choice and the chance to challenge a phobia of singing. I'd sung as a teenager and then stopped for a very long time. I did play Rizzo in Grease which was more like play acting to me. This was a chance to get through that. I didn't think I had any time to waste being neurotic. That was the impetus to do it. I'm so glad I did.

You got to sing with Dionne Warwick and Bonnie Tyler.

Bonnie Tyler - oh my god!!! How's that! Didn't we all do that at thirteen - sing along to Bonnie Tyler! It was a childhood dream!

Would your Xena fans in Australia be shocked at your physical transformation?

You know what: I don't know about appearance. I never judge other people on their appearance. I just assume it's all showbiz. But the one thing I'm a little disappointed in myself about, and I think this is something that Xena fans could rightly chide me about, is that I didn't tell Marie Osmond to f*** off. (Laughs) After you've performed in front of an audience with Smokey Robinson, for example, you're on such a high you can't even hear what the judges are saying. But because Marie would always speak first, I could see her mouth moving but I didn't know what she was saying. When I saw the footage, she was kind of snide about me. She had a growing problem with me. I wish at the end I'd said, "Look Marie, you had your chance sweetheart, just go back to Utah and do what you do there." If I'd been a little bit more bolshie I probably would have won. But I was being a good guest, which is to be a gracious person.

The crowd seemed to love you.

There were a lot of Xena fans in the audience. Iknow a lot of them by face. The ones I've come to know are terrific. These people are amazing and loyal and I try to be loyal to them.

You're nothing like Xena any more yet they're still with you.

Yeah, how about that.

But you're still 5 foot ten and a half inches?

(Laughs) Yes, I'm still the same height.

As an actor, is that an obstacle for you?

I think being tall is an obstacle to working in Hollywood because men don't want to be seen with a woman who's towering over them. Since most roles are for love interest that can be a problem. I don't care, I'm having a wildly great life, and I never spend a second worrying about what I can't have.

Tell us about being blonde.

I have been blonde for the last year and a half. I would like to go dark again except it's really hard to maintain. Because I'm not all about my hair I find that a pain in the neck.

What's your natural colour?

Ash blonde, which is what we used to call Mousey. (Laughs) Tawny mouse!

Xena was a welcome portrayal of female strength - how much did you put into the aesthetic of warrior princess?

The costume was about functionality. It took us ages to get the bugs out of it and make it workable for a stunting life. But I had a lot of input into Xena's colouring: the dark hair. I wanted her to be like Gabriella Sabatini; and
bronzed, like those statues in Madrid. My hair did stay like that for a while ... whatever. Who cares? The hair conversation: Americans always want to talk about the hair! But being from Australia or New Zealand, talking about
your looks is like - what???

Readers might wonder why you look like you do on our cover!

Are you putting me on the cover? Oh, good on you, mate!

What do you think attracts lesbians to you?

(Thinks) I don't know. If I have to guess I think because I'm a pretty courageous person. It seems to be that the things that scare me I move towards, rather than run away from. I think that when you're somebody who does
things even though they scare you there's a certain honesty that comes with that. I think [lesbians] can relate to someone without artifice. They're not really relating to my hair - put it that way.

Xena was strong and courageous, but also funny. Is it true you were the class clown?

That's how I could get by. I could skive off if I was funny. And it happened really by accident. The teacher was Miss Moss, and I was nattering away to somebody, and the teacher said, "Are you listening Lucy Ryan, are you listening? Lucy Ryan!" And I looked up and said, "I'm sorry Miss Moss, I wasn't listening, what was that?" And everybody laughed. And she laughed. And I got away with it. I learned that I didn't necessarily have to bow to authority if I was funny. And that started a whole chain of events of getting away with things just because you could tell a good joke. I come from a family with a lot of boys - a very quick-witted family and pretty damned funny so you had to be quick on your feet to not get pummelled.

Does being a Kiwi set you apart from the women of Hollywood?

Yes. We are quite a different breed. We're quite low maintenance, and active and strong and don't wait for somebody to do things for you. I'm not waiting for somebody else to make my dreams come true. And I think that's something that's really got me through a lot in Hollywood. The impetus has to start with you.

How does a no-nonsense antipodean function in LA?

LA is like being on a treadmill all the time. So I often come back to New Zealand, fall apart, and get sick because I can. It's kind of delicious, really. Get fat, relax a bit then you get back to LA, immediately drop ten pounds. It's something about being there.

What is your health fix?

Yoga, running, hiking's my thing and that's plenty. I'm not a gym girl.

You appear at Dinah Shore Weekend in March.

I'm singing on the Friday night. It's a really great way to commune with the fans in a very joyous setting. It's a great celebration. It'll be good. My lesbian fans have been extremely loyal and great friends as well. I hope they feel it's reciprocated.

When will you be back in Australia or do we have to go to Palm Springs?

I would love to come to Aussie -I just need a reason to go, and an event so I can carve out time in my schedule.

What are your future career plans?

I have no idea but I think that's what I like. Knowing where I'm going to be in seven years time would depress me. Some people like that stability. I need things to be spicy, mixed up and just an adventure. I'm going to Africa this year with World Vision. All of this is just part of this thing people call a career. I just call it my life.


The largest lesbian gathering in the world, Girl Bar Dinah Shore Week, March 28 - April 1, offers five days and nights of lesbian in the beautiful desert setting of Palm Springs, California. Events happen within a few blocks from the official host hotels in downtown Palm Springs, all connected by constant free shuttles.  Friday, March 30 at the Pure WHITE Party Lucy Lawless brings things to a boil with an exclusive live performance at midnight. For a full list of events and packages visit