15 March 1998
The Sunday Telegraph
By Michael Idato
Two decades after Lynda T Carters Wonder Woman ascended to the Mount Olympus of television, Lucy Lawless has become a scantily clad raven-haired Amazon of modest fame.
Yet she is much more than just a TV showwith hundreds of websites dedicated to her, more than almost anyone else on the internet, the Xena phenomenon is both exciting and terrifying.
Lawless landed the role when the original actress slated to play her fell illa classic bus ticket-to-limo story of Hollywood fame, and one Lawless gets tired of telling.
"I do think its an amazing story, but Ive just told it so often its losing any freshness," she says. "And I hate to sound completely rehearsed.
"Its a classic story, though, isnt it?
"Somebody elses discomfort or misfortune is an opening with opportunities.
"And as long as you live your life consciously, youre going to pick up on the opportunities and hopefully make the most of them."
The series is set in a pseudo Ancient Rome/Greece, where the Olympian Gods
(with a dash of their Roman cousins) get up to mischief and the heroes battle all manner of mythical beast.
Much like its predecessor Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess spent an uncertain 12 months on air when it started, and suddenly it became a sensation.
"Really, its only now that its starting to seem big. I suppose when the Midwest catches on, youll know youve really infiltrated the market" says Lawless.
We were flying by the seat of our pants then. We were going to air as soon as we could postproduce the episodes. Were back to flying by the seat of our pants again."
When the character was conceived she was a villainess. Indeed, her introductory three-episode stint in Hercules pitted her against Kevin Sorbos muscled Greek hero.
"She (was) the archetypal villainess. She had to be the Hercules nemesis and look good in her short skirt. Then the series happened to her and (laughs) she turned over a new leaf, because you cant have anti-heroes ..."
The series has struck a chord with both young men, who seem enchanted with Lawless beauty, and young women, who gravitate to her as a role model.
"I tend to think of people generically; I thought it would be successful with everybody, of every age group. But Im thrilled that it has struck a chord with women, because its been brought to my attention that an awful lot of women need that," Lawless says.
The series has also struck a chord with lesbians, triggering speculation about the nature of Xenas friendship with Gabrielle (Renee OConnor) in the series.
"Do we play up to it? What are you asking here?" laughs Lawless. He do have fun with that aspect, but I never want to shove it down peoples throats because it can also be alienating and we dont want to do that to any sector of our audience.
"But we dont want to alienate our lesbian following. We love em all! We love em all equally."
What indeed amazed Lawless was not that Xena has become a feminist icon, but that there was even a need for one. "I didnt know there was such a need for a symbol of strength in women. I guess I have been just going around blinkered my whole life.
"I realised theres a huge hole there and if they take that from Xena, thats fantastic. Somebody needed to fill that role. There hadnt been a female hero, certainly not like this."
Xena: Warrior Princess airs Saturday, Ten at 8.30prn.
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