Xena In the Outback–Lucy in The Code: Sydney Morning Herald 14 September 2014
Here’s a great article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 September about Lucy’s role on The Code (going to air on ABC TV on 21 September – 6 part mini series. It will be released on DVD on 27 October)
Xena's Lucy Lawless plays a teacher in ABC's new outback drama The Code
Published: September 14, 2014
Sydney Morning Herald
There's a fact of life that Lucy Lawless has had to accept: she will never escape the geeks. She must admit she doesn't really want to. "Everything I do is sort of fringey," she says. "I inhabit that cult world a lot."
I had asked if she was suffering from Icon Deprivation Syndrome, now that 12 years have passed since the end of Xena Warrior Princess, which made her a feminist role model and an object of nerd lust. Surely the Xena hysteria must be over by now.
"You would think so, wouldn't you?" she says. "But here we are in New Zealand, embroiled in a political scandal, with an election three weeks away, and today my whole twitter feed is clogged up with people wishing Xena a happy 19th birthday. Apparently it was 19 years ago that the show first aired.
"They're amazingly loyal, these fans. And these guys are forces for good in their communities. They band together and do projects. They see Xena as an inspiration for social improvement.
"The show was about empowerment and it helped a lot of people. It gave them the idea they could bust out of poor relationships or come out to their families. A lot of gay and lesbian people took courage from that show. They took messages of friendship and courage and self-love and turned it into something in their lives."
Lawless couldn't even escape the geek factor in her new series The Code, which starts next Sunday on ABC. She plays an outback teacher who protects an Aboriginal boy blamed for the death of a teenage girl. She gets help from a computer geek who tries to prove the girl's death was caused by an evil company doing secret government business.
Since the end of Xena, Lawless has been mostly doing comedies such as Parks and Recreation or tongue-in-cheek epics such as Spartacus. So how did the serious-teacher role come about?
"I was sent the script by Shelley Birse, the writer, because I guess she thought I had a bit of activist cred. She was looking for someone with grit and love, I guess. I'm very concerned about the environment. I don't want to see Australia getting six degrees hotter in the next 50 or 60 years.
"I read it and thought, 'Ohmygod, this is so good I have to jump on it', and I was the first person on. I normally don't like to do that, but you don't want to miss the chance of being part of a script that good. Fortunately all the other pieces that fell into place were as good as the writing: the actors are phenomenal, the director did a really brilliant job. I'm very lucky. I just hit the jackpot.
"I think Australia should be be really proud of the talent of its filmmakers and writers. It shows off Australia's depth and beauty and sophistication."
The teacher in The Code is the grimmest role Lawless has done in 20 years, but she couldn't resist adding her trademark twinkle. In early episodes, I remarked, there seemed to be sexual tension between the teacher and an investigative journalist (played by Dan Spielman) who arrives in her town.
Lawless: "I'm glad you could see that, because I just thought, 'Let's layer it up, make it interesting.' He blows into town like a cool breeze and wouldn't she just go, 'Yep, I'll have a bit of that'? I know I would."
Sadly the climax of the relationship does not appear in the show. "There was this really kind of hot scene that I did not see in the final cut. Maybe [it will appear] when they do the unexpurgated version on the DVD".
Lawless has spent most of this year in New Zealand, where her children prefer to go to school, but she's about to return to Los Angeles. She's told the kids: "I've got to maintain a career. It's time for mummy to go back to work."
She'll take on the role of heroic Isabelle Hartley in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "My reason for doing it is a bit of a nod to my old fan base and to the writers, because the executive producers were on Spartacus," Lawless: says. "It's one of those loyalty jobs that you put in."
Not that she's in any way reluctant to do a series based on a comic: "I love geeks. Geeks are my life."
The Code starts on Sunday, September 21, at 8.30pm on ABC TV.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
More news and multimedia (when it becomes available) of Lucy in The Code can be found on the AUSXIP Lucy Lawless The Code Subsite