Many thanks to Dannii for the transcipt & to Casey for the ROC pic

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8 Days

November 1999



Renee O'Connor is far from concerned that people are getting ideas about Gabrielle's relationship with Xena, the Warrior Princess.

With her skimpy cavewoman-style costumes and her all-action fighting style,pint-size dynamo Renee O'Connor has become a cult figure on Xena:Warrior Princess. As Xena's fast-talking, staff-weilding sidekick, Gabrielle, the blonde bombshell is rapidly becoming as popular as her busty leather-clad leader. During a whistle-stop tour of LA, the 28-year-old actress reveals how suprised she is by the success of the show already in its fifth season in the US. "Because we film Xena so far away in New Zealand I had no idea how popular it had become [in the rest of the world]. It was only when I went back to visit my parents' restaurant in Austin, Texas, recently that it really sank in. All these girls came running up to me screaming how much they love Gabrielle and Xena." Renee had already caught the eye of Rob Tapert (the husband of Xena star Lucy Lawless and producer of the show) playing the fiesty Deianeria opposite Kevin Sorbo in another mythical adventure film, Hercules and the Lost Kingdom. But it wasn't until Rob auditioned her beside Lucy that he knew he had found the perfect foil for irrepressible Xena. "The chemistry was fantastic" enthuses Rob. "Renee complements Lucy's dark formidable persona as Xena."

Although she's always been a fitness fanatic who enjoys rollerblading , karate and rock-climbing, Renee readily admits the pace and energy of Xena initially left her reeling. "I'd never been to New Zealand before and [I found out that] those Kiwis are bloody fit," she says. "Filming usually lasts 14 hours a day. Those fighting scenes takes a lot out of you and it's very, very, tough." And what about her trusty staff -- will she ever get to swap it for one of Xena's huge swords? "I don't think so," she reveals. "That wouldn't really suit Gabrielle. She's got a moral conscience -- unlike the dysfunctional Xena who'll kill in a second. And let's face it, her staff has proved pretty effective so far."

Unlike a lot of celebrity double-acts, Lucy and Renee differ in one other vital respect -- they genuinely like each other. Indeed, this friendship has become so captivating that Xena has now established a huge gay following alongside its mainstream audience. Last year, Lucy turned up at the Emmy awards with Renee on her arm instead of her husband. Immediately, tongues started to wag that the two actresses had become more than good friends. "It was pretty funny," admits Renee. "Lucy's husband couldn't make it so she asked me to go along! We do have a big gay following but that's hardly surprising , considering the relationship between our characters." But she adds, "I can assure you Renee O'Connor is only involved with one person at the moment -- her [Kiwi] boyfriend. As for Lucy, she's just had a beautiful baby boy, Julius!" For the upcoming season, Renee promises her fans that Gabrielle is going to go through changes which make her an even stronger character. "Gabrielle comes to realise through her travels with Xena that she might actually have to kill somebody." A big departure for Gabrielle, no doubt.


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