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Lucy Gets Burnt

TV Week

19 - 25 July 2008

Lucy gets burnt

For Lucy Lawless, a guest-starring role on Burn Notice was a chance to reunite with an old friend

You got your big break playing Xena, but someone else was supposed to play her, right?
Yeah, she got sick or pulled out for whatever reason and they were kind of forced to take me because no American actress wanted to leave LA during pilot season to come to New Zealand. The studio had given the producers a list of five actresses to go out and get ahead of me I was just the lucky local kid on the spot. So it was just fate and and I'm just so incredibly lucky.

Do you see much of your Xena co-star Renee O'Connor?
I see Renee fairly frequently. She came over to dinner the other day, and she always comes and does some little act at my show like gogo dances or something. It makes the fans go crazy. And it's just a jolly fun time had by all.

What sort of shows are you doing?
Singing shows. It's really just for the fans. It's big stupid fun and little bit of variety. There's a bit of audience participation. I had what I called a "friend-off" to see who loves me best my fans or my friends. Of course, the fans always win because my friends don't know or care anything about my past or my career. [Laughs.] It was questions like: "What is Lucy's least favourite way to die?" All the fans were crossing their fingers and making crosses with their hands and my best friend Marissa was shaking her head and going, "I don't know. What a weird question!" And everybody was going, "Crucifixion!" They have a hearty appetite for public displays of naughtiness, my fans. They're great participators and I really love them.

Are you and Renee still big gay icons?
I think I won this year for the first time in ages. I actually beat Renee out for "Lesbian Icon of the Universe".

Of the universe? That's pretty impressive.
Oh, I don't know what it is. There was no awards ceremony. [Laughs.]

It's nice to know that, after all these years, you're still up there.
They're the greatest fans, too. They're really loyal. You know who I'm working with at the moment? It's funny because I was reflecting coming home how he and I have a similar fan base... I'm working with Guy Pearce on an Adam Sandler movie [Bedtime Stories] and all the gay men I know here in LA are just gaga about him. I know they all harbour this fantasy that Guy might be gay, [but] he's a married man and there's no way he's gay. And I have the same thing with my fans who, even though they know I'm a serial heterosexual and have three children and have been married since I was 19 to different people still harbour this fantasy that I might one day come out of the closet. [Laughs.]

Is it true you wanted to be an opera singer when you were younger?
Yeah. It was one of my early fantasies, right after being a forensic pathologist which I'm still obsessed with but I didn't really have the right kind of voice and the right kind of appetite for that kind of work. It was a little bit starchy for me.

When you went on Celebrity Duets, were people surprised that you could sing?
I think they were, but I wasn't sure I could really pull it off. It was the very last night I made it to the finals and something happened. I actually had a bit of a panic attack, but I went on and did "Tell Mama" and I just kicked out the jams on that song. I went, "Oh, now I get it." I was really a very personal journey for me [thanks to] my avid fans and their fantastic dialling fingers who kept me there till the end.

You were partnered with Kenny Loggins, weren't you?
I was. I loved it. Being an ex-Catholic schoolgirl, [to be partnered with] a guy who looks so much like Jesus... I hate to say it, but there was a little bit of fantasy fulfilment going on there! [Laughs.]

Did you have fun on your episode of Burn Notice?
I loved it and I love those guys. Jeffrey Donovan is such a star. He's so idiosyncratic and he's got this really nutty energy on screen. He's the right person for that role.

And of course you were reunited with your old Xena co-star Bruce Campbell?
I was really sick of acting last year I was done with it, not interested so I was like, "Bloody acting. Well, I'm just going to go play with Bruce and have a good time." [Laughs.]

Did it reignite your love of acting?
No, it really didn't. [Laughs.] No, it took a few months of being cynical about everything. But over Christmas, I went skiing and I thought, "I'm not making any money skiing." And finally I realised: you love acting. You don't have to save the world. You can't be a forensic pathologist, don't be stupid. Go and just embrace life, and all of a sudden, bam! It happened.

You might still get to play a forensic pathologist.
I was offered some of those kind of roles, but didn't want to go back into series TV at that time.

Would you consider it now?
I don't know.

Read the additional article about Lucy on Burn Notice from this issue of TV Week