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Sunday Telegraph

TV Guide - 28 February 1999

Insight into a Lawless World
by Michael Idato

thm_tvguide01.jpg (9494 bytes)Wonder Woman had her mother Queen Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons. Lucy Lawless, alias. Warrior Princess, also claims some inspiration from her mother.

"She’s quite eccentric and political, without aligning rself to any particular party," Lawless says. "She inted to commemorate women’s suffrage, so she raised $18,000 for a statue.

‘So I guess I grew up feeling there was never anything women couldn’t do, but I have to say my her father was also instrumental in that."

Barely 30, Lucy Lawless has come a long way since e was an upcoming Kiwi actress auditioning for a guest role on Hercules, the US action series shot on location in New Zealand.

Stepping into Xena’s shoes (she previously appeared in Hercules as a character named Lyla, she has become an instant phenomenon. But deep within the cyclone, things are as calm as you would expect them to be. Life is very ordinary for Lawless, whose alter ego has extraordinary super powers and fights all manner of evil on Saturday evenings.

On screen, she is known for her leather outfits, high kicks, mean left hook and her sometimes ambiguous friendship with Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor).

Off screen, she is a feisty lady, with a good sense of humour, an overwhelming sense of normality and a left hook more at home gutting a fish than throwing a punch. Lawless and her husband, producer Rob Tapert, and daughter Daisy can often be found on fishing trips, casting lines for their dinner while in distant Hollywood lessser stars are having theirs served on silver platters.

"For me, fishing is something my family does. It’s extremely therapeutic for my husband. I like the results and I’m sure good at gutting a fish," she says, laughing. But she’s being humble. A quick scan through the tens of thousands of clippings about her reveals she once caught a record-breaking 19.8kg pargo (a type of snapper) in Mexico.

She’s also mined gold in the Australian outback ("Actually, I worked in the office of the mining company, she says) and picked grapes on the Rhine.

She’s such an ordinary lass, it’s difficult to get a grasp on the size of the whole Xena following. There are books, comics, magazines, toys, dolls, Web sites and even Sydney’s Marching Xenas, an army of loyal fans who donned Xena’s uniform to march in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Which brings us to the most interesting side effect of the show’s huge following — the vocal and loyal army of lesbians who embraced Xena like a modern-day goddess.

"We kind of laughed and played along with it," Lawless says. "I think the characters transcend labelling, just like gay people don’t want to be identified solely by their sexuality. They contribute so many things to society that to limit it to their sexuality is unimaginative."

Whether Lawless would make it to last night’s Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney, which is being screened on the Ten Network tonight, was the subject of intense debate in the months and weeks leading up to it.

"I love them," she shrieks, at the mention of the Marching Xenas. "We were planning to be there. But with the show, you don’t know."

"But I’m terrified if I do get there, I’ll turn up and everyone will look at me like they’re over me, and say ‘You are so last year!’

And though there is nothing in the scripts to play on the friendship between the two characters, Lawless admits she and O’Connor occasionally lend the script a little more meaning than intended.

"We like to shock, but not too much. We don’t want to alienate. We don’t have to be moralistic, either. We’re not trying to change the world, we just want to entertain."

Xena: Warrior Princess airs Saturday, Ten, at 7.3Opm.


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