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Lucy Lawless: From Xena to Katrina

TV Guide Online

28 October 2005


by Danny Spiegel

Lucy Lawless really should go on Fear Factor. The former Xena: Warrior Princess star had to fight off a swarm of gonzo grasshoppers earlier this year in the CBS TV-movie Locusts, and now in the sequel, the imaginatively titled Vampire Bats (Sunday at 9 pm/ET), she's battling a horde of... well, you get the idea. But she also weathered far more real storms this year, as you'll see in's interview with the Kiwi. Vampire bats, locusts if you had to be attacked by either, which would you prefer?

Lucy Lawless: Ooh, I'm going to have to go with the locusts, I'm afraid. Hang on... I'm trying to think which is a quicker death. There's no way out with either of them? No. Sorry.

Lawless: That is a lousy choice. Um, OK, I'm going to go with bats then, because they're mammals at least. Now let's say we were to add to this mix rabid Xena fans, as in literally rabid.

Lawless: [Laughs] Bats! I'm stickin' with the bats! Would you be willing to do a TV-movie called...

Lawless: "Rabid Xena Fans"? That's the next sequel! That's better than what I was going to say. But would you be willing to do one called "Giant Attack Rats That Talk"?

Lawless: "Talk"? What's the "talking" thing about? I figured giant rats weren't enough; it'd be cool if they had advanced intelligence as well, so they could actually plan something as opposed to just mindlessly attacking villagers and such.

Lawless: Like, "We're going to get the cheese! We're going to get the cheese!" [Laughs] Um, I don't think I'm available for that movie, sadly. I'd have to give that [a pass]. OK. So who would win in a fight, Xena or Alias' Sydney Bristow?

Lawless: Ooh, I'm going to have to go with Xena. Well, hang on, Sydney Bristow's got guns. Well, she resorts to guns.

Lawless: Well, ha-ha, Xena's got her own planet. [Recently, a newly discovered "10th planet" was nicknamed "Xena."] Is there a planet called "Sydney Bristow"? I don't think so. [Laughs] Xena vs. Wonder Woman?

Lawless: Oh, I think Xena would win. You realize that Wonder Woman has superstrength, right?

Lawless: And an invisible airplane. But she is wholly good-guy, whereas Xena will pull every low trick in the book, as would Sydney Bristow. Finally, how about Xena vs. Geena Davis with the bow and arrow that she used when she tried out for the Olympics?

Lawless: And she's president [on ABC's Commander in Chief]! That might just beat having a planet. [Laughs] But she didn't get into the Olympics. See, Xena would've gotten into the Olympics. And she has her own planet. Hands down, Xena wins. Sydney Bristow's the only one I'm concerned about. [For scoop on Xena's next adventure, if there ever is one, click here.] You shot Vampire Bats in New Orleans right before Hurricane Katrina hit. How did you evacuate the area?

Lawless: I [drove] with one of the producers. It was just the two of us as we inched out of town, going about 3 mph, with hundreds of thousands of other people. And the weather was coming.... I have never seen clouds with that ominous quality before. How long were you in the car?

Lawless: Nine and a half hours. We went west to Baton Rouge and we were lucky to get to Baton Rouge. Where did you stay?

Lawless: We were put up by strangers, friends of friends of friends. A woman who had rented a house as a location [for the movie] knew somebody who knew somebody who was taking people in. We were the last people in the door. They had 40 people in their bed-and-breakfast and their personal house. This is the South they will open their doors, their homes, their whatever to you. When did you leave the area?

Lawless: We finally left that Wednesday [after Katrina hit]. We didn't even know what day it was time just becomes a big ol' blur. It was very peculiar to leave there and not be among people who had had a common experience. So I bet you these journalists who have been there will find it very hard adjusting, like being a war correspondent or a soldier. How much of Vampire Bats was left to be completed at that point?

Lawless: One week [of shooting]. So we went home for a few days and then picked up that last week in Nova Scotia, of all places. How much of what we'll see on camera is now gone?

Lawless: All of it. I've seen photos of the locations where we were. All gone. Chris Morgan, a producer who has a house in New Orleans, went back and sent me photos [and the area] is just completely unrecognizable. We have some of the last filmed footage of New Orleans as it was. It would have to be, considering you were filming right up until the hurricane.

Lawless: Yup.... You're making me emotional now. There were some scenes that were supposed to be shot in the above-ground cemetery there, and I lived right by one for a time, and that makes me really sad. I mean, that seems bizarre because the people there are already dead, you know, but there's something very poignant and horrid about that. It's such a symbol of New Orleans, I think that's what it is. It sounds like you really became attached to the area during your short time there.

Lawless: The humanity and the kindness of the people there was really astonishing. The great culture of food and music.... There's just a richness of life down there. And that's why I was prepared to move there. Were you really?

Lawless: Yeah. I would move there in a heartbeat. It really suited me, down to the ground.