Lucy Lawless says the 2024 election would break up Ron Swanson and her ‘Parks and Rec’ character

    Lucy Lawless in “My Life is Murder,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

    Acorn TV, Starz, Universal Television, Abanti Chowdhury/BI

    Lucy Lawless is well aware of the “long shadow” her iconic role in “Xena: Warrior Princess” has cast over her career.

    The series, which aired 134 episodes across six seasons, is what introduced her to the masses. And while Lawless wasn’t particularly fond of performing the show’s grueling action scenes at the time, she carried that fighting spirit along with her well after “Xena” wrapped in 2001 — particularly in her drive to create stories she believes in.

    Her latest, the Acorn TV series “My Life is Murder,” is one example of a project Lawless fought to bring to life. In it, the actor plays private detective Alexa Crowe, who has a talent for solving bizarre murders that unfold in Australia and New Zealand.

    While Lawless, 56, was immediately drawn to the charming, bread-baking PI, not everyone felt as strongly about bringing the character’s story to the screen. But Lawless was determined to make it happen and opted to sign on as an executive producer.

    “When you have the idea, but no money, you have to go fight for it,” she says.

    For the latest interview in BI’s Role Play series, Lawless talks about hating her stuntwork on “Xena,” why a reboot wouldn’t be all that groundbreaking now, and what it was like grappling with the “culture of anxiety” when she joined the “Battlestar Galactica” cast.

    On why getting cast as Xena was ‘a great big cosmic joke’

    Lucy Lawless as Xena in “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

    Universal Television

    It’s been over 20 years since “Xena: Warrior Princess” ended. If you had the chance to do it all again, what would you do differently about the series?

    Well, there’s some things I probably would’ve left to early CGI, like fire-breathing… I just blew my eyebrows off! Crazy stuff like that. I wouldn’t have done all the things where I got injured — I broke my pelvis on the Jay Leno show doing a “Xena” skit that I could have lived without. But not much else. It was great fun.

    Is there anything about the show that you originally weren’t keen on, but over time you’ve kind of come around on?

    Yes, the action! I hated it every day of my life, and now I will say I don’t want to do it ever again either, but it did me the power of good because I was forced to learn things that I’d been so hopeless at school.

    My nickname at school was “Unco,” for uncoordinated. Then suddenly to find myself cast as “Xena: Warrior Princess” was a great big cosmic joke.

    Xena has become a queer icon because of her unofficial relationship with Gabrielle. If they ever managed to get a reboot off the ground again, would you prefer to see an outright gay Xena?

    I don’t think that would even be particularly mark-worthy these days, would it? The kids seem to be so down with all that stuff. It would be completely fine. Would I prefer it? Yeah, well I think the case was settled on that by the end of the series. We were like, “No, she’s totally gay.”

    But they didn’t say it because in those days, people for whom that would’ve been against their beliefs, or whatever the hell, and who didn’t want to see it, they didn’t have to. People who did want to see it could. So it was sort of working on all levels in those days. But I think she definitely was gay, and that was part of the master plan.

    Now I look back, and the writers all knew what they were doing and the fans picked up on it immediately. Renee [O’Connor] and I were the last to know. We saw it coming over the wire from the Village Voice that our characters were being held as a couple of gay icons. We were like, “What? Isn’t that hilarious?” Well, we thought it was cool, and interesting, and edgy. But we had no idea that that was always the plan.

    It seems like you get asked about the possibility of a “Xena” revival in every interview. I’ve just done it too. But do you feel like audiences now know you more for your other work?

    It is interesting. I would say predominantly that “Xena” is the thing that’s cast the longest shadow. But “Parks and Rec” has people who don’t know what “Xena” is, but they do know “Parks and Rec” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or something. So that’s lovely. I’ve covered a lot of different bases of related, but not necessarily overlapping, pools of audiences.

    On the spoiler culture on ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and where Ron Swanson and Diane would be now

    Tricia Helfer as Number Six and Lucy Lawless as D’anna Biers in “Battlestar Galactica.”


    You also joined “Battlestar Galactica” in season two to play D’anna Biers. How did you handle establishing yourself in that kind of environment when the cast and crew have already figured out their working relationships?

    That was a weird one. Because in my opinion, the actors were kept in a state of insecurity, which I don’t agree with as an executive producer. I don’t agree with that at all. Because they didn’t want any spoilers getting out there at the time — people didn’t know if they were going to be killed off, and they were extremely nervous.

    So there was a culture of anxiety on that show.

    Plus you’re filming all day in the dark. You get to work in the dark, you are in space all day, and then you come out, and it’s dark again. That isn’t conducive to a very joyful, lighthearted environment, because human beings need the green of trees and the blue of the sky and all that stuff to be truly mentally happy and nourished on some level.

    It was difficult coming in, because they felt if I was coming in, then one of them was on the way out. They were really nice people so I could tell it wasn’t because they were awful, but there was a little bit of a culture of fear. And that was a shame.

    Ten years ago you also played Diane, Ron Swanson’s third wife in “Parks and Recreation.” What do you think those two are doing in 2024?

    I don’t know, getting out the vote, I guess! That would be interesting because Ron would be on this crazy libertarian attack and I wonder if he would be… That might break them up actually, this election in America.

    On ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ and wearing prosthetic entrails to lunch on set

    Lucy Lawless as Ruby in “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”


    In terms of your characters, Ruby in “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is a personal favorite.


    Yeah. The wild, campy horror is great. What are the biggest challenges when working with gory prosthetics? I’m just thinking of season three when a demon baby eats its way out of Ruby…

    It’s just another day at the office. We didn’t think twice about it. It was quite fun. I’ve got a lot of photos of me sitting about with four kilos of guts hanging out at the front of that dress.

    Having to sit around in that all day and people having to eat with you, with your guts hanging out… it was kind of amusing. Bruce Campbell would think nothing of it.

    The show wrapped up after three seasons, but Sam Raimi is still producing “Evil Dead” movies. What would you do with Ruby if you got the chance to revisit her?

    I think we’d have the Ron Swanson relationship, where she could be Bruce’s hideous wife. They’d have such a terrible relationship. It would be hilarious. They’d be incredibly unsupportive of one another and yet it’d be inescapable.

    On thinking directing was a ‘crap job’ before she tried it herself

    Photojournalist Margaret Moth in “Never Look Away.”

    Kaleidoscope Entertainment/YouTube

    You’ve got nearly a hundred credits to your name. What’s the one project you wish got more attention?

    “My Life is Murder” and my new film, “Never Look Away,” which is my directorial debut.

    How did you come onto that project? Because a documentary about a war journalist is not something fans would typically associate you with.

    I’ve been offered many times to direct, and it always looked like such a crap job. But I got an email from a guy called Joe Duran, who was the subject’s best friend, and he said, “Do you want to make a film about Margaret Moth? I’m the heir to her estate and I’ve got all her photographs.”

    My mind flew back to 1992 when all of New Zealand was glued to CNN because one of our own, a CNN camera person, had her face shot off in Sarajevo and wasn’t expected to survive. Well, Margaret did survive.

    I wrote back and said, “Yes, I will find the money, and I will find the producers, and we will make this.” A month later, we were saying, “Who do we get to direct this?” And somebody said, “Well, why don’t you do it?”

    And I was like, “No, come on. I don’t direct.” And then it became, “Well, yes, why don’t I? Because nobody cares about this in the way that I do and nobody believes in it in the way that I do.”

    I was there before the money on that one, just like I was with “My Life is Murder.” When you have the idea, but no money, you have to go fight for it. That’s real producing.

    Shooting “My Life is Murder” is like a ray of sunshine because I’m working with three of my best friends, and we laugh like idiots all day long. But then working on a film is incredible torture. It’s terrifying, exciting, stressful, and I crave it.

    So yeah, it’s the best of both worlds.

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

    “My Life is Murder” season four is now streaming on Acorn TV.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


    Latest posts