New Weekly Magazine
June 1, 1998
Leaner And Meaner on Xena
Since wowing fans with her athletic physique, Reneé O'Connor's even
giving TV's Xena a run for her money
Its not surprising to find out those spectacular fight scenes where Xena and Gabrielle kick and wrestle the living daylights out of the baddies on TVs Xena: Warrior rincess arent actually for real.
But sometimes even just pretending to combat the strong forces of evil for hours on end is more strenuous than a true battle.
Thats why Reneé OConnor, 27, who plays Xenas diminutive but faithful sidekick, Gabrielle, exercises six days a week.
"Its difficult with a 12-hour day to find the time to workout," says Texas native Reneé. "Four times a week I do a cardio workout - either half an hour of running or a two-hour walk or hour-long high-impact aerobics."
Shes also recently started boxing and martial arts so that even though she has stunt doubles, she can do more and more of her own action sequences.
"And then a couple of nights I go to an indoor rock-climbing gym, which is exciting because you feel like youve accomplished something and youve overcome your fear of heights, which is true for me." Gabrielle, afraid of heights? Never! Does Xena know?
Actually, Reneé admits that if it werent for her dose relationship Lucy Lawless, she wouldnt still be fighting alongside Xena on the small screen.
"You cant work with someone 12 hours a day if you dont get along and actually appreciate a person - its like a marriage," says Reneé.
"We know each other so well - sometimes were quiet, other days we gossip like schoolgirls, but we both know what kind of day each days going to be.
"Ive actually learnt a lot through Lucy - Ive never worked with a woman before whos so strong, so beautiful as a person."
But they dont go as far as exercising together. Thats something Reneé does with her boyfriend, who shell only describe as "a wonderful man in New Zealand".
"My boyfriend actually enjoys rollerblading, going to the gym and rock climbing, so weve been doing a lot of it together," she says.
The rock climbing is quite a challenge for 163cm Renee, whos also the shortest person on the set. The crew have even nicknamed Reneé and Lucy "Ren and Stimpy".
"Its actually harder for me because 1 have a problem reaching everything because Im vertically challenged," she quips. At 54 kilos, though, Reneés physique is more strong and healthy than willowy and waif-like.
"I know my body shape isnt the same as a lot of actresses on television who are very thin and model-like, but Im grateful that Im playing a character whos athletic. Its great running around with a warrior princess," she says.
"For breakfast I usually have muesli with skim milk and fruit. Then its chicken and steamed spinach and other vegetables for lunch for Lucy and me."
But on weekends, Reneés plurges a little on the sugar when she goes out for dinner with her boyfriend.
"Desserts are great here in New Zealand," she says. "They use full creams, so everythings rich."
Another weekend treat is a glass or two of wine. "The New Zealand wines are absolutely beautiful, but I dont usually drink during the week," she says. "Id be out in five minutes if I did."
But in reality it would take more than a tipple to topple Reneé, who admits she really gets into the fight scenes now.
"I love it," she says, obviously surprised that she ever could. "Even though Im nervous, I still love the adrenaline rush of fighting. Especially being a woman and being short and small. I love the fact you can be tough and staunch and men go flipping across the room!" ˇ
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