TV Hits Magazine
1 March 1997
TV HITS Interview - transcribed by Kim Farr for AUSXIP
1997 is set to be the year of the Warrior Princess! Hot on the heels of her good mate Hercules comes Xena star Lucy Lawless, ready to kick butt with her own super-hot spin-off show. But did you know that this high-flyin' action babe used to sing opera and is originally from New Zealand? It's true!
TVH: How did you get into acting?
LL: When I was 15 I went on an opera tour of Europe with my mum to see all the best opera like Carmen a million times. It really awakened my senses. By the time I was 18, I was itching to get out of a small country at the bottom of the world so I left New Zealand and headed for Lucerne in Switzerland, for some reason.
TVH: It's hardly the wildest place on earth!
LL: I know. I was just desperate to escape my claustrophobic family and go and have a wild life. When I got to Lucerne, I found out it was a really upstanding moral place. It's not the sort of place you go to have a cathartic, teenage rebellion at all. So I went to Munich and hung out
TVH: Did you say you were an opera singer?
LL: I studied opera for a few years as a teenager until I realised I didn't have the passion that you need to keep it up after all the rejections you get. I've also sung on the animated version of Xena which we just recorded and it's coming out as a movie next October.
TVH: Did you miss home?
LL: Yeah, but it was an adventure. They were dangerous days because you have no money, you're young, you don't know anybody. You're too proud to ask for help from your parents. I travelled across the continent for about 11 months before I went home.
TVH: How did you get the part of Xena?
LL: I got this part through some incredible feat of serendipity. Somebody else pulled out of the role. She had been training for a month and got sick, so she couldn't do the role. They rejected me at first. Apparently, when he heard my name for the part, one studio executive said: " Are you crazy!" I'm from New Zealand and they wanted an American actress only. I'm very grateful to those Americans who turned down the role before I finally got it.
TVH: How did you prepare for such a role?
LL: I've got eight years of acting experience behind me and I've always been a bit of a fighter. I was a rough diamond as a child, coming from a large family. I was used to scuffles and I had ridden on horses as a kid, which has proved very useful.
TVH: Did you endure any special training?
LL: Yeah, I was brought to LA and trained by a guy called Doug Wong who was a kung-fu master who prepared Jason Scott Lee for The Bruce Lee Story. I can do some pretty good stunts, even though I have a stunt double and an acrobatics double.
TVH: We wouldn't like to run into you in a dark alley!
LL: I think a lot of guys think that. Men are horrified by me when I bump into them in the street because they confuse me with Xena. I am never ever approached by men in the street, only women.
TVH: On TV you appear more muscular, why is that?
LL: Well, first of all, I usually am a little bit more built up when working. I lift heavy swords and it builds up muscles. But I've been on holidays and just let myself go.
TVH: Do you work out for the role?
LL: A little. I rely a lot on the costumes which are so well-made as to accentuate a muscular form under the right lights!
TVH: Do you naturally have black hair or is it dyed for the role?
LL: Yes, it's dyed raven black. It helps with Xena's scary image on screen. She has brown skin - I'm painted up every day but I have naturally pale skin and that scares people in real life. I must look like some childhood idea of a witch! I definitely scare people and then I have to reassure them by saying something goofy to put them at ease.
TVH: What's happened to your New Zealand accent on the show?
LL: Well, I do not have an all-New Zealand girl look because it didn't win me roles. When I come back from holiday in New Zealand, I have to re-practise losing the accent each time, which is difficult.
TVH: You live in LA but your daughter lives in New Zealand.
LL: Yeah, her name is Daisy and she is eight. I have been too long away from her. I consider myself a hard-working mother who wishes she could be with her daughter more often.
TVH: What are your daughter's reactions to seeing you on TV?
LL: Very mixed. On one level she's proud and on another level I think she would like the whole thing to just go away and life to go back to how it was. She doesn't like the feeling that she has to share her mother with so many people.
TVH: What do you look for in a guy?
LL: You know what the greatest aphrodisiac for women is? If I can be so bold as to generalise like this, the greatest aphrodisiac is somebody who is good at their job. Nothing makes me angrier than somebody who is not good at their job. If you're no good at it or don't like it, then go and do something else but don't waste my time and money!
*Born: March 29, 1968, New Zealand
*Family: Five brothers and one sister!
*Marital Status: Lucy is divorced from her first hubby (they married at 19) and is "seeing someone. No he's not an actor! No, no, no!"
*Career Break: Lucy's first major acting role was in the New Zealand comedy series Funny Business. She also starred in NZ's ASB bank ads and had a presenting role on the Air New Zealand Holiday show.
*Fact! When she was a kid, she wanted to be a marine biologist or pathologist. She even worked on a goldmine in Australia.
*Fact! She speaks good German, OK French but poor Italian!
*Fact! Lawless is her married name. "When I first got married I thought nobody was ever going to take me seriously with this name and then I just got over it."
*On Xena: "Xena is a positive image because she doesn't come across as stupid. She doesn't fall over and get rescued by men. She does the rescuing."