Many thanks to Filipa Morgan Flasheart for the transcript


October 17, 1999 Sunday, Final Chaser

"Xena" warrior savors role as sidekick; Joxer's popularity never guaranteed


By Kate O'Hare, Tribune Media Services

Ted Raimi is preparing to head to Europe (his first trip there) for a Xena: Warrior Princess convention.

"That should be a blast," he says. He's also looking forward to the cuisine: "I can only eat so many steak-and-kidney pies in New Zealand before I've had it." On the syndicated Xena, Raimi - the younger brother of one of the series' producers, filmmaker Sam Raimi - plays Joxer (a k a "Joxer the Mighty"), the brave but incompetent warrior who often shows up to lend dubious aid to Xena (Lucy Lawless) and her companion, Gabrielle ( Renee O'Connor) .

The series films in New Zealand. Although he's now a fixture on the show, Joxer, with his comic mannerisms, trademark song and silly hat, has not always been a hit with the show's dedicated fans. "At the moment, they're loving me," he says, "at the moment. It all boils down to, am I going to tell Xena to go make me a sandwich? Am I going to pat her on the butt? Now, fans have realized I'm not a threat."

Was it fashionable to hate Joxer for a while? "I was totally Jar-Jar Binks," Raimi says, referring to the often-reviled amphibian character from Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. "Now, it's fashionable to like me at the moment on the show, so it's cool. It's a fun kind of turnaround. It's almost fun to be hated, in a way, I must admit. In a sick way, it's like, 'Forget you, I'm still on the show! Ha ha!'

"But, no, you know what, to say that somebody hates you or to say that they love you, is a compliment either way. You affected them. But to say that you're a bad actor, and they don't care one way or the other, is the only true insult than an actor can get. So, I consider myself lucky in that way."

This season, the show is dealing with the pregnancy of Lawless, who is married to series executive producer Rob Tapert, by writing it into the plot. The story line is leading up to the 100th episode in January, in which the identity of the father of Xena's child will be revealed. That will be followed by a four-episode arc that begins with the birth. "We deal with it," Raimi says of Lawless' impending blessed event. "We do more action, there's a little more cleavage shown on the other characters. We try, we try.

"They have a different costume for Lucy. She's not stretching the leather out or anything. She has a new costume, and she looks nice in it. She's still stunningly beautiful. Being a man, I don't normally think of very pregnant women as stunning to look at, but she genuinely is. "You can't be that pretty and look bad. Even if she were fat and pimply, she wouldn't look bad, and she's not." How do Lawless and Raimi get along?

"I love working with her," he says. "She's one of the most generous actresses that I've ever met. Stars don't have to be generous in their acting. They can take all the pauses they want and abuse you as much as they want, all sorts of little tricks that actors can do, and she has never, in all the years I've known her, done one of them. "That's what makes you ultimately great, if you give to the other actor. Because the minute you do that, if they're good, they'll give it all back to you and make you look twice as good as you would have looked if you hadn't . . . it's just how the art works." Raimi is even coming to enjoy his convention appearances. "(The fans) get all dressed up, and they love me," he says.

"I get up there, and I try not to disappoint them. I do lots of falls and gags and physical humor and stuff, and they eat it up. "They come dressed as Joxer now. They didn't at first, but now at these conventions, there are 10 or 11 people who look just like Joxer." Are there many dressed like Xena? "There have been quite a few," he says. "Actually, it attracts a lot of cross-dressers. Not only cross-dressers, but it attracts those who want, or maybe desire, some kind of sex difference in their lives. "I once saw what I thought was the prettiest silhouette of a woman when I was in San Francisco at a Xena convention, about a year ago.

I walked up to this woman, who was dressed in a Xena costume, and she looked beautiful. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, 'Miss, that is the best Xena costume I have ever seen.' It was very detailed. "She turned around, and she had a mustache and a beard! He said, 'Thanks a lot!', and I said, 'Aaargh!' I was frightened out of my mind. "But yeah, they come dressed as Joxer. And you know what, I think it's fine. People always make fun of it. They say, 'You guys, those fans who dress up are crazy.' And meanwhile they're wearing a Number 32 Steelers shirt, which if they look at themselves, they're doing exactly the same thing. They're just dressing like their heroes."

The fact that the show is reaching its 100th episode just thrills Raimi. "You know, we're shooting our 100th episode right now, that's a landmark, too, in a way," he says. "That blows me away. It's like, 'How many?' "I just come in and do my gag and routine, and then I go home. I put on my funny little hat, do the tricks and go home. It's a good deal."

Return to The XIP News Archive