Growing up in New Zealand, Lucy Lawless was as free-spirited as many young residents of the small island nation. She sought adventure, excitement and when bit by the proverbial acting bug, Lawless would have to admit that fame had its definite attraction.
As the star of Xena herself puts it, All New Zealanders kind of escape their tiny little country at the bottom of the world and go on their OE, their Overseas Experience, to see the world. Australians do it too, before they go home and pay off their student loans and get serious about the world.
Lawless appeared in a number of television shows in Australia before moving to Vancouver, Canada to study at the William Davis Center for Actors Study (an institution that should be familiar to X-Files fans).
Eight months later she returned to her native home where she spent two years co-hosting a New Zealand travel show before being cast in what was supposed to be a small, supporting role of the internationally syndicated series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
An American actress had been cast as Xena, the female counterpart to Hercules in three episodes of the series. However, when that actress became ill, the producers turned to Lawless to make additional appearances on Hercules. A three-part storyline turned into Xena: Warrior Princess, the series that is now in its fourth successful season.
In discussing the irony of how she captured the role, she says, I thought it was going to be a raging success. She chuckles before adding, When youre a kid from the sticks you have no expectation other than its an American show. Why wont it be huge? So it was just a bliss of naivete and ignorance, and its been just marvelous, a once in a billion lifetimes experience.
From that experience, the actress says shes learned Discipline, I guess. I dont think of Xena as a character. See, when you say Xena to me, well, shes part of me but shes not all there is. I think shes certainly rooted in truth, and shes who I would be if I grew up in that situation.
Yet, when asked if shes afraid of being typecast due to the role, she responds with a resounding, Im not! Why am I not? Because thats a state of mind. I wont buckle into that one. Besides, Xena offers me a lot of scope. I get to play slapstick and I get to do musicals for goodness sake and play a lot of different characters. Plus, there are no other roles out there with this much complexity. As one guy said, Its a smart show that pretends that it isnt. And it is.Jean Cummings
the full interview in Xposé
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