New York Times
22 February 2000

Interview with Renee O'Connor

Up to the challenge. Renee O'Connor (left, with Lucy Lawless) enjoys 'Xena' but wants to expand her acting horizons.




Fireballs, cranky gods: It's why 'Xena's' pal loves her job


By Ian Spelling

And baby Eve makes three. on six.

"There are babies everywhere,'- says Xena: Warrior,  Princess a,, star Renee O'Connor, referring to the impact of Eve. newborn daughter of Xena (Lucy Lawless), who arrived a few weeks back as an immaculate conception in the episode "God Fearing Child:-"We've had about four different babies playing this one character.

"It's really amazing," she adds. "I don't think that I will ever need to have children of my own, because they me around me all the time."

Speaking by telephone from her New Zealand home on a rare day off turn the syndicated hit, O'Connor cracks up,

"'The great thing," she says of the babies, "is that you get to give them back at the end of the day."

The advent of Eve came in the wake of Lawless' real life pregnancy, which culminated on Oct. 18, 1999- with the birth of Julius Robert Ray Tapert. The baby's father is her husband, Xena creator/Executive producer Rob Tapert,

Of course. the ramifications of Lawless' maternal joy were felt well before the actual onscreen and offscreen deliveries. To accommodate Lawless during her pregnancy- O'Connor handled more of the fighting and action sequences than usual. Post-Julius as Lawless luck some time off to recover and be with her family, several well-received episodes focused almost exclusively on Gabrielle (Xena's faithful sidekick).

"I just latched onto anything I could get and really bit my teeth into it all," O'Connor says '-It's obviously been the most I've worked in the entire run of the show, but it's been a great opportunity for me. both physically and as an actress.

` Gabrielle has been fighting for three. in a sense, just rent of sheer obsessiveness, to protect us all;' the actress adds.

"Now that we are going back to being more of a Xena driven show again, I have been fulfilling my own desires by doing theater scenes and anything else I can out of work, at the end of a 14-hour day on the show.

"If the energy is there, I think, you are always willing to do whatever you can, just to grow as a performer end to have a good time," she says. "That's what I'm looking for - I always want to have fun."

O'Connor promises plenty more fun in the latter part of Xena's fifth season. Much of it will involve Eve, whose recent arrival threatens to herald the twilight of the gods - in other words, she may cause Zeus, Hades and Ares to lose their power over mankind.

"We are going to have all sorts of twists and turns," O'Connor promises. 'And I'm sure that we'll have this huge finale in which we try to kill off all of the gods.

"Next. season will actually be the one that I am most curious about,- she adds, "in terms of what direction we'll go in and what new enemies the writers will create to continue the show. We've always had plenty of angry gods to deal with, but next year should be a very interesting challenge for everybody

O'Connor figures that Xena will be around for another year or two, and she's definitely up for it. After all. there are still butts aplenty to kick, character traits to explore, episodes to direct and stranger than-strange experiences to savor.

"Every day on Xena is strange:' says O'Connor, who spent a recent comic episode, "Married with Fishsticks" portraying Crustacea, a mermaid with three fishy kids. "There is always something that makes me sit back and laugh, because I just can't believe I'm doing it.

Yesterday, for instance, I was sitting at the bark of a cart that they had attached to a truck, ' she recalls. `We were getting ready for the shot, and the director was yelling, 'And a gigantic plasma fireball is coming at you from the left!'

"You've just got to laugh;' she concludes. 'I have to think, This is my job: Every day there is something just like that and I love it"

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