Many thanks to Richard K for the transcript

(New Zealand)

25 July 2001

with Susan Wood interviewing Lucy Lawless

[14:05 minutes] [2475 words]


Susan Wood:

Hello, Welcome to Today Live. Tonight a show focused on the fight for the health and safety on the world's children. Actor Lucy Lawless joins me to talk about why she's so dedicated to campaigning for Starship Hospital.


[break to theme song, talks to other guest speaker and another small break]

Welcome back. Being an international celebrity and choosing to stay in this country has been a conscious decision for my next guest. What's more Lucy Lawless is determined to give something back, committing time and energy to charity work - in particular helping our children.


[camera on Lucy]

Susan Wood: How are you?


Lucy Lawless: Very well thank you.


SW: Is it…you have kids of your own…you have been interested in children's charities?


LL: Ehm…well yes…and also only in the last six years have I become useful to them, I suppose. [giggle]

SW: Is it only six years?


LL: Well yes, six years since Xena started and ended. And I am very pleased and proud to be associated with Starship Hospital in Auckland, and…ehm, a number of other things I've always been involved with, yeah.


SW: What do you…ehm, I guess you use your face and your profile really, don't you? I mean, brings a huge pile of…


LL: Bring a whole pile of guts. [LOL]

{a bit garbled here, both talking at the same time and laughing}


LL: Yeah, it's good if you could bring it to some practical use. What's the point in being…>What< is the point in being famous?

I often think that fame is the most ridiculous phenomenon. It's really about other people, you know, people often think that fame is about the person, but it's not. It's about this common perception and…ehm, its good if you can turn this around and make it tangible.

So…ehm, I've been involved in a number of projects with Starship and its been very uplifting actually.

I used to feel overwhelmed sometimes with the demands of…ehm, obviously…

And I keep waving around my little Starbear…

[Lucy looks at camera with a cheeky smile, a little clip-on bear attached to her forefinger]

…which everybody should buy…this month.

But I found that when I got involved in charities…ehm, or causes, that the days seemed a bit longer. It was easier to get through.

I guess everything that wasn't important assumed its correct importance, y'know…and…ehm, I encourage everybody to give back somehow.


SW: There is this thing, isn't there? And you go into a hospital and you see a sick child. It does bring everything into a crashing clear sort of, you know? Prioritizes everything, doesn't it? Of what's important and what's not.


LL: [nodding yes]

It really does [looks worried and serious] and…ehm, to meet the parents is particularly moving to me, because they suffer [compassionate sad look] a thousand deaths through their child's illness, whether the child gets well or not…ehm…and…yeah, that's particularly moving to meet them.


SW: How are your children?


LL: My children are wonderful. They're bouncing and happy and…ehm, best thing I ever did. [proud mum look]

SW: Are you gonna have more?


LL: Sure.

SW: Lots more?


LL: Ehm, I don't know about lots <I don't know about lots> , but…ehm, yeah.


[looks at camera, hands scoop up towards herself]

Bring 'em on. *L*

SW: Now you're singing at Sky City, singing with a bunch of people.

Sir Howard and Temuera. What's that about?


LL: Yeah, they invited me along. They decided that they wanted…they and Sky City wanted to give back to Starship Children Hospital because…ehm, for one thing it's just a great cause and we've got so much…we've got to raise

NZ$2.5 million this year for neurological equipment, so that we can perform, you know, we've got the means to perform extraordinary operations here…ehm, but…ehm, at least we have the techniques but not the equipment.

So that's our challenge this year and Sky City and Sir Howard have been terrific in coming to the party and a portion of the ticket sales will go to that.

And also try to sell these little chaps [holds up bears and looks at camera with a cheeky smile] because 2.5 million dollars is…ehm…

[Richard's research note: Sky City Theater seats 700 people. All three nights were sold out. Normal ticket price is thirty dollars. For this event ticket prices were NZ$45. NZ$15 per person were the proceeds going to Starship. So Starship got a total of NZ$31500]

SW: It's a lot of money for a small country - lots of money…


LL: It's a lot to raise but, most money comes from public donations

[Richard's note: and the Lucy fan base around the world] and if you think NZ$3 isn't going to go a long way…ehm, I gotta tell you, it's just not correct, you know? Everybody gives a tiny bit if they can…ehm, we can do amazing things.


SW: What are you doing with your days, now you're not, you know, fighting…fighting whatever you were fighting with.


LL: [giggles and laughs]

Ehm, as I told you before, I'm floating through the days like an amoebae, and…ehm, I'm spending a lot of time with my kids, and…ehm, working for Starship, and…ehm, gearing up to go back to the States [X-Files hint], I've got some work to attend to there, and…ehm, which I'll tell you about in good time.

[Richard's note: No, tell us now - scoop, scoop]

SW: Can you tell me a bit about it?


LL: I can't, no, but…ehm, just fun projects. I'm just enjoying the all care, no responsibility of going on other peoples show and just having a great time and rather than being the star of a show.


SW: And the daily grind. I would imagine of the filming because it would've been, I mean it must've been immensely intense.


LL: Oh…ah…yeah [giggle]…ehm, it was a big physical challenge, I must say and…ehm, more than that I think that every working mother knows, and fathers I suspect, that the more hours you put in the…ehm…

It kills you, because that's the time you would like to be with your kids and this is an element of guilt or discomfort.


SW: Well it's that feeling that you're not doing anything properly, isn't it? You're kinda juggling all these things.


LL: Stretched to the limit.


SW: It must feel really nice, Julian [Richard's note: Julius] is two in October, just to be able to have all this time.


LL: Ehm, it's incredible. It's just wonderful, and…ehm, he's flourishing [proud mum look]. He's very attached to his mummy. Quite different to girls who really are…all the focus goes on Dad. But little boys, you know I can't believe that this little kid could possibly like me so much [laugh], but he really does.


SW: So does every young man in the world, I guess.


LL: Oh, I don't know about that. [silent hint]

SW: Will you be going back to the States pretty soon?


LL: I'm only home for three weeks, and…ehm, I'm leaving in another ten days or so. [Richard's note: probably left for the USA on 4-8-01]

SW: How do you divide your time? Sort of 50/50 or so?


LL: ehm…well no, it's been a lot more. I've been in New Zealand a lot more, and…ehm, because I was filming 32 weeks a year in Auckland. So obviously I had to be here, and…ehm, and I don't know, I'm just going with the flow at the moment and doing what I need to, y'know. Go to the States if I have to, and…ehm, be here when I can.


SW: Okay, we'll take a short break now and we'll be back with Lucy Lawless in just a couple of minutes.


[break for commercials]

SW: Welcome back. My special guest on Today Live: Lucy Lawless.

Are you missing Xena?


LL: [takes a deep breath, looks up and left before turning to face SW LOL]


Nooo...[giggle <L>]

SW: That was a short answer?


LL: I miss my friends, but…ehm.

It really feels like I was sucked into a…ehm…Xenas video game like the Playstation or something for six years, and it seems like a dream already, the role itself…ehm…but I’ve made so many incredible friends and it was an awesomely rewarding and challenging experience in every way.

And now life has become this other creature and its really soft [giggle] and its warm and I’m not wet, y’know. I’m not out in the elements. I can wear modern clothing and I can’t tell you how delightful that is.


SW: Well, you still have your skin on?


LL: [girly fashion talk] Oh yes, but its one of those new fabrics, you see. Which is…absolutely 100% faker and…ehm…


SW: Oh, so it’s fake skin?


LL: Yes, but…ehm…that’s all the thing now, you see. Leather is not cool anymore and…ehm…yeah.


SW: Did you keep any of the Xena costumes?


LL: I have one or two pieces…mph [clamps up, looks at camera, puts up finger for shush] Quietly between you and me

[RBK: to the world, yeah - LOL]


SW: There was a big auction, right?


LL: That’s right. And I’ve got a couple of things like some robes and a couple of props and some scripts which I’m actually auctioning off on ehm…I’m actually double booked on Friday, because I’m going to my old primary school – Marist Sisters Primary in Mt Albert and…ehm, that’s my Friday. Going to the Trivial Pursuit night and then go sing with Temuera Morrison and Sir Howard and that’s gonna be a whole lot of fun.


SW: That’s great, isn’t it? Do you think you’ll be able to leave like, you know, you go on in your career, leave Xena behind.

I was talking to someone the other day and I said…and was like Captain Kirk, or something. I t was like a role, or something, that stays with you forever.


LL: Ehm…I fear that it will be, in that people will say, "Oh, doesn’t she look old."

SW: No, she doesn’t <L>


LL: "Didn’t you used to play such’n’such." and…ehm…oh "She aged well."

Or something, but it will always be in comparison to this creature that lives on and on in syndication for ever and ever. But…ehm, but that’s okay, you know.

It’s such an honor to have a role like that which has been so iconic and because it wasn’t about…ehm…it’s not about the American jurist/prudence system. It’s not a cop-show. It’s not…ehm…it wasn’t about very trendy topics.

It was very universal themes; good and evil; love and hate; friendship and heroes and so it will go on and on.

It plays in 115-120 countries all around the world and…ehm…so it seems to transcend a lot of cultural barriers, because it is about those things that everybody understands.


SW: So where do you go for a holiday? If it’s in 115-120 countries then…?


LL: The syna[?]. Not huge on the syna[?]…get followed everywhere.

I come to Auckland and…ehm…I love Auckland. I love New Zealand. I love the sparkling harbor.

I went for a walk up Mt Eden the other day and saw an aspect, though I’ve been up Mt Eden many times in Auckland, that I didn’t recognize and it was …and its all fresh to me and its…ehm…this is such a tremendous country.

It is still.

There seems to be a great lack of confidence about New Zealand, but if I wanna buy…great shoes…>go to Monique<, I go to Monique Cooper[?]…ehm…the last footwear company some…you know, you can buy awesome products here…of a quality that you…ehm…do not easily get anywhere else.

Its stuff that lasts. Good honest product. Good honest people and…ehm…I wish we felt better about ourselves and not link it to sports-boards…or…is it a wonderful thing.

But boy, do we have amazing craftsmen. My jewelry, everything I wear is New Zealand because its so unique. I’m so proud of it. I buy stuff at…fingers…and this is George Nuku [her shell neck piece] and everything I wear in LA is New Zealand design, its generaly…m’yeah.


SW: [?] to buy [?]


LL: Yeah, yeah I do, but it doesn’t everything…if I wear NZ stuff, it’s absolutely unique, and they go ‘ooh, signature.’ And it’ in all the magazines. The issues will say, ‘Oh, where did she get that dress.’ ‘Cause they haven’t seen anything like it, so…ehm…ehm…I’m a big fan of NZ products.


SW: How do we begin to feel better about ourselves because you’re right, we don’t. we get worried about the brain drain and I worry if my children will have the opportunities that , you know, kids in other countries have.


LL: We have opportunities that other peoples children do not have. Everybody here can go to the beach. It’s simply…ehm, perhaps it’s failure of imagination, you know? If we don’t do these things then…

New Zealanders are very courageous. I know I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve got nothing to live down and I’ve got no ones expectations to meet, so I feel free when I go to America to be…whatever the heck I dream of being and one thing we should take from Americans that they’re really great at. When they see someone succeed, they go, ‘yeah man, if you can do that, then I can do that too.’ And…ehm, we tend not to do that.

We’re a little bit threatened by other peoples success, but don’t…you know.

[gives ‘it’s ok’ look]

Be inspired by it, because…ehm, you can do it.

But you got to believe it.

You gotta be the first one and you have to be a bit of a quiet operator in NZ, you know, you can’t go out trumpeting how big you want to be, because people may well knock you down, ehm…just know it.

Just you know it, that you really can do it.

You can be a world-beater and tell your kids that they can too.


SW: Did you know, it’s a line that someone reminded me off.

Your own gloss.’

‘Twas a long time ago and you went past Rex and you said [wink] ‘Hey Rex.’

[Lucy covers mouth with one hand in sudden embarrassment]

LL: No I didn’t, I did something else. I went [funny face] ‘Rudytootoot’

And I’m mortified. I was sitting…I was filming an ad down in Wellington and I was waiting with my husband to see the episode where I got a part, ‘cause I was just an extra and I was so mortified.

What a goober I said, but that was cool, you know. Dare to be a little big, somebody will like your…ehm…they’ll like your confidence and they’ll take a chance – yeah.

SW: It’s been a thrill talking to you, look after yourself.


LL: ThanX for having me.


SW: Lucy Lawless, thank you.

[14:05 minutes] [2475 words]

Transcript by Richard Kloosterboer

For further details contact me at


Return to The AXIP News Archive