Issue #47 July 1998http://www.dreamwatch.co.uk
FROM HELL'S HEART
WITH SUCH MEMORABLE EPISODES AS
Callisto, Armageddon, and her big finale, Sacrifice, Hudson
Leick has truly carved a place for herself in the pantheon of
"Callisto is the ugly and some times the childish parts of me"
Popular TV vixen HUDSON LEICK has paid her dues - as has her alter ego Callisto on
XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS and HERCULES.
James G Boutillier pays his respects as her death echoes across Sky One...
However the apparent demise of TV's most beloved hate-monger will probably only be the beginning for this talented former psychology student. So just how did she go from modeling in Japan to becoming a popular television icon? "Sometimes I don't know. When I graduated high school I got a wonderful gig to model in Japan, and I love travelling and was really excited about it. When I got back I went to New York and was very unhappy there trying to model. My dream was that I was going to be a strong model and then go into acting. But that was not happening and I felt that I just wasn't getting any creativity out of it. So I quit modeling in the middle of my France experience.
"I decided to try college and took some part time classes, and I was also interested in psychology. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be an actress or wanted to study how we worked, how we thought, so I took a couple of acting classes and a psychology class entitled 'In Search of Self, but it wasn't interesting - it was all textbook.
"Meanwhile I got the lead in a play. Acting class was fascinating. I could read plays and be really involved in them. So I started taking a lot of the classes and auditioning for plays... and that's basically how it all started, Sometimes it amazes me that I have worked at all. It's very scary to audition, and sometimes I would just prefer to stay home than to go to an audition."
Leick's audition for XENA, however, evoked a somewhat more Callistonian response. "I'd never seen it but I had seen HERCULES and I didn't really want to do that. They told me the part was basically a warrior queen and I was like, 'What a great role, a bad guy!' I thought that sounded wonderful! And as soon as I heard it was in New Zealand with my little love of travelling, I said 'Okay, I'll go.' I remember walking around the block and praying for it.
"It was a small room that we had to wait in and I started getting really angry that the people who worked at the desks were talking really loud. I thought it was very rude and I was getting really p.o-ed about it because I was so nervous. I felt like we, as actresses, were not being respected - I got so self-righteous... which turned out really great. I didn't say anything but sat there accumulating it! I walked in and they said, 'Okay, this is Hudson Leick,' and I said, 'And who are all of you?' I made them all introduce themselves to me and I shook hands with all of them making eye contact.
"I sat down and read. I had seen HERCULES and knew the women were scantily clothed and that didn't interest me. So I wore a skirt down to my ankles and a shirt that was tight fitting but covered everything. I was completely covered, with big boots on. Afterwards they said, 'Are you physical? Can you move?' I said yes and they said, 'Can you show us something?' So I did a kick and threw a pretend chackra and got the part.
"Apparently behind the scenes they thought I was so odd and so spooky - I definitely was two years ago. They said, 'If she intimidates us so much and she's so spooky, give her the part!' So they did."
Hudson couldn't have known the impact she would have on her audience, especially from the way her character was initially pitched. "It wasn't a beautiful pitch: 'she's the bad guy; she fights Xena - Xena had destroyed her family, she went crazy and went bad - and she might be coming back on the show and she might not, depending on what kind of job you do.' That was it.''
But by the time she tasted her first XENA convention she realized she was no mere extra on the set. "I was totally stressing, saying the audience was just here to see Xena, they were going to be so unhappy when I got on stage. [But] I got on stage and the crowd was insane! All the lights were off and all the camera lights were hitting me. I was still in that complete panic mode and was like, 'Hi, my name is Hudson Leick and I play a character called Callisto' and the people in front of me were like, 'D'oh, of course you are."'
It wasn't until she looked on the Internet, however, that this actress truly absorbed the magnitude of Callisto's popularity. "Someone said I had to go on-line and see what the fans were saying about me. I saw it and could not believe people were interested in me - that's nuts. I just had my birthday, and 450 people wrote messages to me. To think my presence actually touches other people. But I like to see things on a grand scale, so when I see that, it's like, the smallest thing I do can affect anyone on the street"
But life as Callisto can have its discomforts if a day on the set is any indication. "I'll get up around 5 and do the things I do in the morning. They pick me up and go straight into hair and makeup. I'm given breakfast, read through my lines and centre myself. They bring me on set and we have a block through, where we have scripts in hand and are in our robes, go back to hair and makeup and have our first scene. I may be in every scene of the day, or I may be in three and they're all spread out. Rarely am I in one and get to go home. We eat lunch in between. There's no Craft Service like there is in the States, which is a wonderful junkfood area.
"In the wintertime when I'm wearing that small outfit, I'm usually freezing and have many blankets wrapped around me and hot water bottles, which they call bottles, everywhere - stuffed down my skirt. If you ever watch the show and you see a square mark on my stomach? That's a hottie.
"Everyday you get body painted, which is quite a treat to be painted in sticky goo, standing completely naked in front of the makeup artist in your trailer while they sponge you down. Quite a treat first thing in the morning! Usually I just accept it: but sometimes on rare, rare occasions, depending on how sensitive I am, and when my period is coming, the body paint will freak me out... I will want them to stop immediately. But of course, that's my job and that's what I'm being paid for, being painted brown. The brown goddess."
All told, Callisto has been a positive skin for Leick to wear. "I really believe that when you're open you can learn from anything. Any time I get a script I'm so surprised by how similar it is to my life and the lessons I need to learn. Callisto is really a part of me. It's the ugly part of me, and sometimes the childish part of me, but it feels like all the pain and anger inside of me, and it's a way to get it out."
However, "there is definitely a flipside to it as well. Sometimes I don't know if it's playing Callisto or just my stuff, it's hard to tell the difference between the two sometimes, playing that negative a role. And also, I feel safe playing that negative a role, which actually is not therapeutic because it's something I can hide in."
ALTHOUGH CALLISTO WAS SOMEWHAT violent, as is the series, this character in a way showed what violence, and action based in anger, produce, which perhaps accounts for Xena's responsibility toward Callisto's nature. "Is she misunderstood? I never understood that. She's understood. People understand what she's doing by her actions. Do they have empathy for her? I think it's really hard to have empathy for people who lash out. Do I have empathy for her? Absolutely. I think that's what actual healing is, when you can have empathy. It's easy to love someone who is loveable, it's difficult to love someone who is not... She is part of me, to hate that part of her would be to hate me. And I have moments of that too, but I'm human."
Have she ever wondered while taping those scenes of sexual tension amongst the female characters, what that was all about? "'Did I have an affair with Lucy Lawless, and what was it like?!' I feel the sexual energy. It's human nature. Is it planned? Yeah, we play with it, I play with it, because I feel it and it's fun to play with."
Would she have changed her role at all? "I'm dissatisfied with her ending. I thought it was very mild. There was no dramatic end - it was very quiet. That could just be my ego wanting to go out very big like a fireball. I also wanted her to have redemption at the end. They were talking at one point about having Callisto find forgiveness for Xena and transcending. And I loved that idea, it seemed really beautiful to me. I pretty much accept what they have given me, besides the ending."
One might say Callisto has been buried before. Ultimately, the quiet death of Callisto is up to Leick. Would she want to see Callisto come through the ashes or is this a closed chapter for the actress? "I don't think it's final. I think Callisto may be final, now that I've cut off all my hair as well. But I think you may see my face again in HERCULES or XENA."
So, what's up next? "I don't have anything in mind. I just want to learn. Hopefully not negative learning, I'd like for it to be a positive experience. I enjoy doing villains, I'd like to try other things though. Of course I'd love to do a movie. And I'd love to have my own series. Being 29, I'm just discovering what I really like, and to find what my real passions are. I love travelling, going to yoga retreats and climbing mountains. Sometimes it feels like I'm just waking up, I like everything."
As for long term goals, this actress knows what is truly important. "What is most important to me, of everything, I would like to be married and have children. I would like to be present in my body and know who I am and enjoy everything around [and] I really want to thank all the people who have been supportive of me. It doesn't go unnoticed and it is so appreciated."
"I think you may see my face again in HERCULES or XENA"
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