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Here`s What I Think About...Lucy Lawless..Superstar!

This editorial is my tribute to Lucy, and no it isn`t going to be how blue her eyes are and I won`t even mention the word flawless! However, I do think that Lucy is the number one reason Xena:Warrior Princess has been such a success. Now I am sure some people will disagree and say how important Renee O`Connor is, or how it is the relationship between the characters, or that it is the writing or stories, or even that it is the character of Xena rather than Lucy that has been the most important factor. All quite possibly true, however, in my opinion, if ANY other actress had been cast as Xena, the show would not have been the big hit it is. It could have been good still, sure. Maybe even as good as Hercules. After all, the writers, producers and crew play a huge role. But without trying to annoy any Hercules fans, I think Xena has captured the imagination more, has been slightly higher rated generally, and certainly seems to have the more devoted fans if you look at web sites and merchandise.

So why? Well that brings me back to my original statement, Lucy is a huge part of that. I think Lucy has made the show believable. For starters, she *looks* the part. No nothing to do with the eyes, but Lucy has the stature to carry it off. And as she has always said that she is not athletic, she is obviously an excellent physical actress! When Xena swings her sword, throws her chakram or flings a fish, you believe that she can do it. Why? Because Lucy looks so comfortable in the physical aspects of the role. Of course, her stunt and fighting doubles help a great deal, but it is clearly Lucy who is slashing with her sword or throwing the punches, or even running away from fireballs - as in Amphipolis Under Siege. It is the unfairness of the genetic lottery that long legged Lucy looks like an all action hero as she runs along that passageway, while the much shorter but undeniably more athletic Renee O`Connor looks far less warrior-like as she sprints over the battle fields.

Also, as a commercial proposition, Lucy is undeniably very easy on the eye. Of course, this is a fairly common feature for actors. Being pretty is an essential requirement for young actresses. And, OK, yes, there are those eyes (sorry, I tried not to mention them!), the long legs, and the leather. While I am sure that costume is functional, it is a sexy look too, displaying plenty of cleavage and thigh. Sex sells still, and Lucy is statuesquely beautiful. Not a skinny supermodel, (although some of those pre-pregnancy FHM photos showed she was much slimmer without the leather and armour), Lucy looks properly woman-shaped, an excellent role model!

As well as Lucy`s physical presence, she also does an brilliant acting job. Someone talked about her Clint Eastwood stare, and she does indeed do a very good menacing glare, conveying so much with her eyes. One of my favourite menacing glares was in Paradise Found, when Xena feels her control slipping and is in the bath, imagining crushing Gabrielle`s hand. You can tell immediately that Xena is in evil mode. Similarly, in the second lookalike episode, Lucy takes on the roles of Meg, Diana, Xena diguised as Meg, Meg disguised as Xena, Diana pretending to be Xena and probably a few others! I found it pretty easy to follow this episode, because you could tell pretty much all the time who Lucy was supposed to be by some very subtle differences. Then there are the dramatic episodes, that allow Lucy to stretch herself. Who can forget the traumas of Maternal Instincts, and Lucy`s heart rending scream at finding her son dead. My personal favourite dramtic scene is probably the one in The Debt II when Gabrielle slaps Xena and is trying to get Xena to agree to leave Chin. Lucy says nothing at all in this scene, yet says so much with her eyes and face. Brilliant.

However, while I enjoy the dramas and comedies, I think Lucy`s portrayal of the stoic, burdened ex-bad girl is what will be best remembered. When many actresses play a tough girl role, there is still a bit of vulnerability. I am thinking of Sharon Stone in The Quick & the Dead or Demi Moore in a lot of unwatchable rubbish like GI Jane. As serious actresses, they want something to get their teeth into I suppose. Even Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the Alien films - one of the closest parallel figure to Lucy as Xena in my opinion - panics and screams at times. (She was probably most Xena-like in Alien Resurrection, complete with her proto-Gabrielle, Winona Ryder!) Or other actresses look like they should bounce off the big guys they are fighting - like Sarah Michelle Geller in Buffy, and even Hudson Leick who was always too skinny to be truly believable as a warrior (in my opinion) when you could hardly see her when she turned sideways! Or maybe other actresses are just too girly! (like Charlie`s Angels!) Of course Xena CAN be vulnerable, but more often than not, she is Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood or Indiana Jones as she smirks and punches, stares down opponents and makes the ridiculously impossible look believable.

Another reason I think Lucy is such a star is how she comes across in interviews. I have never met her and doubt I ever will, but to many of us fans, we feel we know her. `Yeah sure`, you are thinking, `and every other nutty fan!` But that isn`t quite what I mean. I think we all have read endless Hollywood interviews with gushing or cagey actors, who manage to give very little away or say anything especially memorable, and talk in cliché. Lucy seems to enjoy interviews and chat, and always seems funny and lively. I am sure she must be heartily sick of talking about goldmining in Australia, but when you read or see an interview with Lucy, she seems to give more than many actors. There have also been some very funny or memorable lines. It was Lucy who first talked about some fans as being `hard core nutballs`, and being a HCNB is a term we proudly use to describe ourselves. Lucy`s very funny line about producer Liz Friedman being gay that appeared in The Advocate Magazine (and too rude to repeat here!) ended up being cleaned up a little and appeared in the episode Been There, Done That, when Xena tells Gabrielle that Joxer would,`crawl 50 miles over broken glass to sweat in your shadow.` Lucy`s turn of phrase is what makes her like a real person to her fans. We feel like she would be a good laugh, not some pretensious prima donna. Lucy`s attitude to life and her desire for lots of children are refreshingly un-Hollywood too.

Of course, no one is perfect, and I had a good moan last week about Lucy`s participation in that wrestling scene in Kindred Spirits. I still think Lucy was having too good a time and not being Xena-like, however, that is episode 107, and I can`t remember too many other times I have felt like that. I know that there are many fans who watch for Renee O`Connor as Gabrielle, but to my mind, without Lucy, the show would have not lasted much beyond a year or so. Renee has become more important in the continued success of the show, and the development of the characters. But Lucy - oh go on, I`ll say it - the Flawless One, is what *made* the show....in my opinion of course!

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