The NZ Post

Entertainment Section

Lawless Days for Ancient Warriors

 3 April 1996

What: Hercules.

Where: TV3.

When: 8.30pm, Friday.


ANCIENT warrior Hercules meets his match this week when he comes face to face with Xena, The Warrior Princess, played by Auckland actress Lucy Lawless.

Lawless makes her debut as Hercules's deadly opponent in a performance that so impressed the show's American producers they created an entirely new series for her. The spin-off is now almost as popoular in the United Statres as the original Hercules.

Sharp-eyed Hercules fans may have already spotted Lawless as Lyla, the courageous bride of Deric the Centaur, in an earlier episode. But it is her work as Xena which catapulted the actress to stardom in the United States.

Almost 1.8 metres tall, with dark hair and intense blue eyes, Lawless is the fifth of seven children and the oldest girl in her family.

A self-confessed tomboy as a child, she appears every bit as independent as her strong-willed character.

After finishing high school, where she appeared in many musicals and plays, she attended Auckland University before leaving for Europe "to go grape-picking on the Rhine".

When she ran out of money, she went to Australia and worked for a gold-mining company in the small outback town of Kalgoolie. One of a few female miners, Lawless did the same work as the men, digging, mapping the ground, driving trucks and pushing huge core samples of earth through a diamond saw.

She married in Australia and returned to Auckland where her daughter Daisy, now seven years old, was born.

At the age of 20 Lawless landed her first real acting job alongside Comedy Central's Willy de Wit, in the comedy series Funny Business. She then moved to Vancouver, Canada for eight months to study drama at the William Davis Centre for Actors' Study.

When she returned to New Zealand in early 1992 she accepted a job as co-host for travel show Air New Zealand Holiday, which she continued for two seasons.

Lawless sees the role of Xena as her first major breakthrough as an actress. She describes the character as "a woman as strong as any man or woman has ever been, who lives by her wits, but is also a fighter. She's a very human hero, who knows all about the darker side of human nature since she must battle it within herself every day."


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