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TV Week

March 13 - 19, 1999

"Why am I not Blissfully Happy?

On the surface it seems Lucy Lawless has it all - a 10 year old daughter she adores, new husband Rob Tapert, from whom she hates being parted, and the job of her dreams as Xena. So why is she soul-searching? Jenny Cooney Carrillo reports...

IT seemed like a fairytale ending for a princess when Lucy Lawless, better known as Xena: Warrior Princess, married her prince charming, the show’s American producer Rob Tapert, last year in Los Angeles.

thm_tvweek01.jpg (13297 bytes)So why is the down-to-earth New Zealander now pouring her heart out about what’s missing in her life?

"I don’t know if it’s because I got married or I turned 30 at the same time, but I’m actually at a kind of crossroads in my life," Lucy says between bites of a large pastry she is attacking with gusto.

The 177cm no-nonsense star is dressed for her whirlwind promotional tour through Los Angeles in a white shirt with a sexy black bra peeping through and looks more like a corporate businesswoman than a feminist superhero. She was never one to talk in psycho-babble, so it certainly gets your attention when she begins spilling the beans on her own spiritual quest.

"I was thinking, I aimed for this, but now I find myself here and fame doesn’t fill you up, even money doesn’t fill you up. I can have clothes. I have the man of my dreams and a happy, healthy daughter and the job of my dreams. So why am I not blissfully happy?" Lucy says wistfully.

"I think it’s because that is not life’s intention. But I’ve been doing a bit of soul-searching since my marriage and, in one of my darker moments, on the television came Leeza Gibbons, who sold me some tapes from an American self-help guru, Tony Robbins. I swear to God he changed my life and led me on to Deepak Chopra, who also helped a lot."

Suddenly aware that she’s in danger of sounding more than a little Hollywood New Age, the TV goddess adds with a giggle:

"Is this getting too philosophical? We could be superficial and frivolous if you wantl"

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Urged to continue, she plunges forward. "I realised that we are all a collection of atoms and who we are is actually immaterial," she says. "I’m not a doctor and I can’t save anybody’s life. All I can do is entertain and, in giving my talent and receiving other people’s talents, God grows bigger and the cosmos grows bigger. If you think, What’s the bloody point because we’re all atoms and we’re going to blow out of here?’, you have to try to do something good with what you are given. And while fame is a happy by-product of what I do, it’s certainly not the final reward."

So exactly how has her new-found inner life changed the world of Xena?

thm_tvweek04.jpg (9888 bytes)‘What’s come reduction in stress," Lucy says.

"If I’m not making a deadline or I don’t have the right shoes to wear on a TV appearance, these things are not important. If I have to go back across town and miss the cool party after the Emmy Awards because I want to pick up my husband to go tosomething else later, that’s what is important. It’s being with your loved ones.

"I’m still waiting for my epiphany, still waiting for my last purpose to drop out of the sky, but in the meantime I'm doing this and rm a whole lot happier!" A lot busier, too. The demands of the show get bigger with its growing popularity, and there's the ongoing struggle to be with her new husband, who spends part of the year in the U.S. overseeing other TV projects.

A dozen years ago, Lucy was a carefree student with no interest in acting as she travelled through Europe with boyfriend Garth Lawless, her future husband. After a brief detour to Westem Australia to earn more travel money by working in a goldmine, Lucy discovered she was pregnant, and the couple headed home to New Zealand to marry and raise Daisy, now 10.

"It was the best mistake I've ever made," Lucy says of the marriage that ended in 1995. After a brief period studying acting and playing bit parts in international co-productions, Xena crossed her path as a three episode role in the series Hercules: The Legendary Joumeys. "1 was camping with my family over Christmas when my casting agent somehow tracked me down and said, 'Can you be in Auckland in two days because an actress has fallen ill in the States and can't make it down for the show?'" she says with a twinkle in her striking blue eyes.

"Apparently they tried to find another American. A heap of actresses turned them down, including Kim Delaney (the NYPD Blue star), because it was pilot season and they didn't want to go all the way to New Zealand for two weeks' work. So I bless them for their decision because the local girl got the gig instead. into its own and here I am!"

Lucy admits that wearing skimpy costumes during brutal New Zealand winters can take its toll, she fiercely denies she intends leaving the show after its current season. "That;s conjecture," she says. "As long as people want us, I guess we'll be there. I can't do it forever because of the nature of the job and the fact that I'll age particularly quickly, and I want to have children. But I know I will never have a bigger or better role, so it will be with some sadness that I do eventually leave."


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