November 13, 2000(Lucy's responses are in purple.)
How many women do you know who are fluent in four languages, worked as a gold miner and are responsible for creating a feminist superhero? There's only one person we know of: Lucy Lawless.
Born the fifth of seven children in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1968, Lucy Ryan was a tomboy. She traveled through Europe after high school until her money ran out, then headed to the Australian Outback make some more. (That's where the gold mining comes in.)
She married longtime boyfriend Garth Lawless and returned home so her daughter would be born a Kiwi. But the acting bug burned, and she landed commercials, bit parts and, at last, her breakout role in Xena, Warrior Princess. The syndicated series, which concludes its six-year run next summer, became an overnight sensation and made Lawless an international star.
Now married to Xena producer Rob Tapert, she recently celebrated the birth of her second child. And now, she's here with answers to your questions--about Xena's cancellation, the fate of Tilly the pony, her show's lesbian overtones and much more.
From draco2000: I was very sad to learn this will be the last season for Xena. How can I get my weekly Lucy fix if the show is finished? Have you got something else lined up?
When the official announcement went out, I was surprised to find myself flooded with offers. Once I've had a good holiday, I'm going to review my options, and hopefully you'll be seeing me sometime soon. And thank you very much for being a terrific fan.
From mhdubgal: It must be very hard to know that after six years, you won't be seeing and working with the same people every day. Does that bother you? Will you and Renee remain friends?
Yes, there are going to be days when I just break down and cry because these are my best friends whom I've been hanging out with for so long. As for Renee and I, we will always be close. We've been together longer than a lot of marriages, and she's like my sister. I'll always be there for her, come what may.
From jtc: Is it hard to deal with the long hours spent on the set and not giving enough attention to your daughter and your little baby?
No, but that's all I can do. There's no time for anything else.
From xenares: Of all the actors you've worked with on the show, who is the most fun to play against romantically? Which episodes have been the most fun, and which were the worst?
Kevin Smith is the most fun person to play off romantically. Because he's such a great family man and because I am also very happily married, it means we are safe to explore our characters without embarrassment or misunderstanding. The most fun episodes are always the comedies.
The worst are the ones where you're working under the hardest conditions, though they also happen to be the best. Those would be the Sin Trades and the Valkyrie episodes--or really any of the shows from the first half of this season. They were incredibly difficult to shoot.
From atmidnight: What is your opinion about the show's lesbian overtones and the chemistry between Xena and Gabrielle during their more intimate scenes?
I've never had any problem with subtext or with our lesbian audience. I love them, and I thank them. I personally feel they were the first adherents to our show. Our plan is not to alienate any of our audience, nor is it to push a specific agenda. Your sexual orientation is a very small part of who you are, and I do not feel that whether the characters are gay or not is a big issue. However, I do find Renee as sexy as all get-out.
From mamitag: Who is your favorite actor, and if you could choose, who would you like to work with in your next role?
Robert Downey Jr. or Johnny Depp. To me, they're both geniuses.
From palozi: Is there a special place in the world you haven't been to but always wanted to go?
I've always wanted to go to Thailand. I hear the food is magnificent, and once you get outside of Bangkok, the beaches and the islands are among the most beautiful places in the world.
From cool_breeze: What is your favorite practical joke or blooper that happened during Xena?
My favorite was when I was pregnant and we were playing a trick on Ted Raimi. Instead of saying "Joxer, stop being such an idiot," I said "Joxer, you know I've always loved you...I've always wanted you." And I went in as if I was going to French kiss him and stick my tongue down his throat. Ted freaked out. On a really fundamental level, everything about that was wrong for Ted. Not only was I Lucy his friend but I was his friend's [producer Tapert] pregnant wife! It grossed him out--as it should.
From mujertropical: Do you and Renee have any say on the development of your characters, or do you just have to follow the storylines?
We could have a lot of say. Renee is much more hands-on than I am, simply because my brain doesn't work that way. I'm not a plotter and a planner. I just kind of exist in the role. Whatever comes my way, I try to play it as if that's how Xena would react or how I would react given this set of circumstances.
From sklouise: I think you are a great comedic actress. Will future roles be focused on that?
I would hope some of them are, because that's where I feel my home is--in comedy.
From xwpgaq: Could you tell us what the show/role has meant to you and what you hope the viewing audience has taken from the show?
I hope the viewers have gone on some journeys that have taken them out of their workaday lives. I hope they have laughed and cried. For me, it's been a wonderful roller-coaster ride of comradeship, challenge and artistic endeavor. It's been a triumph of the spirit, yet it's also been incredibly hard for me. I'm just one woman, and this job has not been easy--I have to admit it. But with the help of my friends and family, I've been able to keep getting back up there every day. I couldn't have done it without Rob, Renee, my crew and my kids supporting me.
From eengah: I'm sure there are plenty of more serious questions to ask, but now that Xena is ending, what color will your hair be? Are you going to stick with your dark Xena look or return to your natural lighter look? Hey, it had to be asked.
Taping doesn't end until the spring, and the show will run through summer 2001. It's quite difficult to go back to a color that is less dramatic than the one you've become used to, but I think I will. Then again, it depends on what my next role is. I'll probably save a dramatic change for my next role. Maybe I'll shave it all off.
From towtweem: I am such an animal lover, and I wanted to know what will become of Tilly after Xena wraps? I think they should give her to you. I think you are one together woman--you go, girl!
Thanks. Rosie Miles is one of our wranglers, and we'll keep her and look after her until the end of her days, because I love her. I only ride her for while the camera's rolling, but she will carry me onto my mark every time and seems to love and accept me without condition. I'm very committed to looking after that pony for the rest of her life in grand style, as she looked after me.
From giovanna: There are varying views on how the show should end. How would you like to see it conclude? And would you like it to progress to feature films?
I want to see Xena and Gabrielle walking off into the sunset or going out in a burst of glory. Either way, there should be a blazing final shot.
From lucyfan: Any chance you and Renee might do another show together someday?
That's nice. I would hope Renee and I will work together again. I don't know on what--but somewhere, someday, somehow we'll make it happen.
From plsql_queen: If you were stranded on an island and could have your favorite book, music, person, and another item of your choice, what would they be and why?
I'd be reading Annie Proulx and having a jam session with Lyle Lovett, before joining Rob and the kids for dinner.
From talesien: I think it's brilliant the way your show has depicted female relationships and bravely evolved, but despite the strength of the themes of love, redemption and tolerance, do you think the presentation of the female characters (skimpy costumes as eye candy) has been a detraction?
No, I don't think it's been a detraction. And I'll tell you, my costume is darned comfortable for fighting in--it was specifically designed for that purpose.
From ellen5: Did you attend Renee O'Connor's wedding? If so, is there anything you can share about it?
You bet I attended Renee's wedding. I wouldn't have missed it for the world! It was stamped with Renee and Steve's personalities. The whole day was loving, fun and a precursor to a wonderful life together.
From ronnoco: I'm new to the acting game. I was just wondering. In the scenes where you have to cry, how do you get the tears? I mean, I can get emotional--but the tears, that I haven't gotten down. Any tips?
For some reason, I've just never had a problem with that. My emotions are so close to the surface they're very accessible to me.
From xeenah: Lucy, if you could name one thing during all six years of Xena that has changed your life, what would it be?
During the Sin Trades episodes, I was lying on the ground, freezing and pretending to be half-dead or drugged or something, and somehow I just knew I had to make a major life change. It was a very dark time for me, and it was then that I decided I desperately wanted to have another baby. During the fifth season, I did, and life has gotten so much richer as a result. My husband is my rock, and my children are the jewels in my life.