- Category : Actress
- Type : GE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Upheaval 1
Lucy Lawless, MNZM (born Lucille Frances Ryan; 29 March 1968) is a New Zealand actress and musician best known for playing the title character of the internationally successful television series Xena: Warrior Princess.
She is also widely known for her role, D'Anna Biers/Number Three (Cylon), on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. Most recently she appeared on the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, and Spartacus: Vengeance. She plays the major character Lucretia.
Lawless was born in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert in New Zealand, the daughter of Julie Ryan, a teacher, and Frank Ryan, who was a banker and Mount Albert mayor. Lawless was the fifth of seven children, and has five brothers and one sister, and has described her parents and siblings as "this big, sprawling Irish Catholic family." While filming in Ireland for the Discovery Channel in 2004, Lawless told Ireland on Sunday that her father's family originated in Quilty, County Clare, and her great grandfather arrived in New Zealand as a convict.
Lawless appeared in her first musical at the age of and began acting in secondary school. She later said she "used to quite like bulimia", but was able to overcome the illness. Lawless attended The University of Auckland and studied foreign languages for a year, including German, Italian and French, and she also studied opera for three years. After learning that opera required changes in her lifestyle she was not ready to make, she gave up on both and studied violin and jazz instead, and considered becoming a singer. But university studies in opera and languages were abandoned after she decided that opera would mean compromising her own mantra of being the best she could at everything she tried.
At 18, like many young New Zealanders she went on her "overseas experience", traveling through Europe and Australia – where she met future husband Garth Lawless.
At 19, Lawless became pregnant with Garth Lawless' child. The couple married in Kalgoorlie, Australia in 1988. They returned to New Zealand and had a daughter, Daisy Lawless (born 15 July 1988). The couple divorced in 1995. On 28 March 1998, Lawless married Robert Tapert. They have two sons, Julius Robert Bay Tapert (born 16 October 1999) and Judah Miro Tapert (born 7 May 2002).
Her debut on television was two and a half seasons as a cast member of the New Zealand sketch comedy series "Funny Business" – after which she studied drama at the William Davis Centre for Actors Study in Vancouver.
In 1994, Lawless appeared in "Hercules and the Amazon Women," a Pacific Renaissance Pictures made-for-television film that became the television pilot for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In that episode, she played a man-hating Amazon named Lysia. She went on to play another character, Lyla, in the first season episode "As Darkness Falls." She received her best-known role when she was asked to play a villainous warrior woman named Xena in the episode "The Warrior Princess", which aired in March 1995 (R. J. Stewart, one of Pacific Renaissance Pictures' in-house writers, dramatised the teleplay from a story that Robert G. "Rob" Tapert commissioned John Schulian to write). Vanessa Angel was originally cast in the role, but fell ill and was unable to travel to New Zealand for shooting. To differentiate between Xena and the similar Lysia, Lawless' hair, naturally ash blonde, was coloured black. Xena subsequently returned in two more episodes of the first season of Hercules, which portrayed her turn from villainess to a good, heroic character.
The character was popular enough that a spin-off series was created. Xena: Warrior Princess debuted on 4 September 1995 (Lawless appeared as Lyla once again in the second season Hercules episode "Outcast" – aired in October 1995). Xena: Warrior Princess, like its parent program, was a hit, lasting six seasons, and Lawless became an international celebrity.
While taping an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in October 1996, Lawless suffered a fractured pelvis when the horse she was riding lost its footing in the studio parking lot. She made a complete recovery, and her absence from the Xena set had minimal impact on the show.[
In 1997, Lawless was named one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People Weekly Magazine. Days earlier, on 6 May 1997, Lawless had inadvertently exposed her breasts as she concluded a performance of the US national anthem at an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, California between the Mighty Ducks and Detroit Red Wings. Lawless was quoted in Newsweek as saying, "Obviously, I was mortified....It was quite a bit more exposure than I want."
Lawless first appeared on Broadway in September 1997 in the Grease revival, as the "bad girl" character, Betty Rizzo. She wanted to play the lead role of Sandy, and later stated her belief that the producers typecast her to play "bad girls" following her success as Xena. She said the Sandy character was very similar to her sheltered childhood, growing up in New Zealand with many protective older brothers.
Lawless married Xena's executive producer, Pacific Renaissance Pictures CEO Robert G. "Rob" Tapert, on 28 March 1998. They have two sons: Julius Robert Bay Tapert (born 16 October 1999) and Judah Miro Tapert (born 7 May 2002), who were both born in Auckland, New Zealand.
Lawless became a 'lesbian icon' because of Xena's ambiguous relationship with traveling companion Gabrielle. This reputation has become cemented after her "graphic lesbian sex scenes" in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.] Although Lawless is heterosexual, she has appeared at gay pride events such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras] In a 2003 interview with Lesbian News magazine, she said that she had come to see Xena and Gabrielle's relationship as gay after viewing the series finale, though she has also stated on several occasions that she was undecided on the nature of the relationship while playing the role.
Lawless became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours List, which entitled her to use the postnominal letters MNZM.
From 2005 to 2009, she had a recurring role in the television series Battlestar Galactica. Lawless appeared as D'Anna Biers, a reporter with the Fleet News Service who worked on a critical documentary about the crew of the Galactica and was later revealed to be a Cylon (Number Three).
She competed as one of the celebrity singers on the reality TV show Celebrity Duets in 2006, finishing as the runner-up to winner Alfonso Ribeiro. Lawless has also performed as a voice actor in several animated features. In 2007, Lawless guest-starred as herself in the cult HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm. In a sub-plot of an episode entitled "The TiVo Guy", she met and flirted with Larry David. The dialogue included the subject of David being Jewish, and Lawless commented: "we don't have them where I'm from". (This may have been a satirical swipe at widespread ignorance regarding both New Zealand and Jews; many New Zealanders of Jewish descent have been prominent in public life, even though they comprise less than 0.2% of New Zealand's population.) The story concluded with Lawless going on a date with David and leaving in disgust, after he mentioned suffering a groin injury and pointed out, presumptuously, that this would preclude them from having sex.
Lawless was to appear as one of the leads in the ensemble cast of the ABC television series, Football Wives, based on the popular British series Footballers' Wives, in 2007. The series did not continue past the pilot episode, though the network did extend the options on its contracts with Lawless and the other actors slated to star in the series: (Gabrielle Union, Kiele Sanchez, Ving Rhames and James Van Der Beek).
Lawless returned to television on 10 November 2008 in a guest-starring role on the hit CBS television series, CSI: Miami, playing a madam with connections to a murder. She appeared in two episodes of the final season of The L Word, and also had a role in the Adam Sandler movie, Bedtime Stories, released Christmas 2008. Also in 2008, Lawless appeared with her former Xena stuntwoman Zoë Bell in Sony (Crackle)'s new web series Angel of Death written by Ed Brubaker, which debuted online in early 2009.
In 2009 Lawless guest-starred in the HBO series, Flight of the Conchords as Paula, assistant to the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Lawless co-starred in the Starz original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The show was based on the life of Spartacus, the famous gladiator, and the slave revolt he led, and was produced by long-time Xena producers Sam Raimi and "Rob" Tapert (her husband). Lawless played the role of Lucretia, the wife of Lentulus Batiatus, who were both the owners of a gladiator ludus. Lawless reprised her role as Lucretia in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which chronicled life in the Ludus before Spartacus' arrival. Despite her character's ambiguous status in the season one finale, Lawless was set to return in Spartacus Season 2. Lawless won the 2011 Saturn Award as Best Supporting Actress for her role as Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
Lawless provided the voice of Goldmoon for Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, a direct-to-DVD animated movie based on the novel of the same name, as well as Wonder Woman in the direct-to-video animated movie Justice League: The New Frontier.
Other appearances include:
on-stage in the Vagina Monologues;
guest star in episodes of The Simpsons, The X-Files, Just Shoot Me!, Veronica Mars, Burn Notice,, Less Than Perfect, No Ordinary Family and bro'Town;
star in the short-lived television series Tarzan.
cameo appearances in the movies Spider-Man (2002) and Boogeyman (2005) (both directed by Sam Raimi), and EuroTrip.
the TV movie Locusts! and its sequel, Vampire Bats.
Lawless is a member of the board of trustees of the StarShip Foundation, the charity arm of the Starship Children's Health (hospital) which is part of the Auckland District Health Board. It is set up to provide additional equipment, support and help to staff, patients and families. She devotes much time and energy to fundraising for the organisation. She recently sat for the New Zealand television series The Sitting, an arts series where celebrity portraits are produced during an interview session with the portraits later auctioned for charity. Lucy attended the auction where her portrait fetched the top price, with the whole event raising $39,000 for Starship. Lawless has often raised money for concerts and events, donates part of her salary in favour of the institution, and has sold some Xena costumes to contribute funds. In mid February 2012, Lucy sang at New Zealander Of The Year donating her appearance fee to the Starship Foundation. Friday 21 September is "Lucy Lawless Feel the Love Day." The day, organised by the Official Lucy Lawless Fan Club, begins a week of charitable acts and donations by fans in honour and support of Lucy.
In May 2009, Lucy Lawless became a "climate ambassador" for the Greenpeace "Sign On" campaign.
In February 2012, Lawless and five other Greenpeace activists boarded an oil drilling ship at Port Taranaki, New Zealand, and remained on it for 77 hours to stop it leaving for the Arctic where it was going to take part in oil exploration] She was subsequently arrested and charged with burglary, which carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years if convicted. She pleaded guilty on 14 June 2012 to trespass charges regarding the February incident. Lawless said she intends for now to remain involved with Greenpeace. In February 2013, she and the other six activists were each sentenced to pay a fine of NZ$651 (about US$547) and 120 hours of community service. The judge denied the $545,000 in reparations that Shell Todd Oil Services had sought from the activists. Following the sentencing, Lawless said: "I consider it a great victory that the court has struck down the reparation demand from Shell, which I think was absolutely ludicrous."
Astronomer Mike Brown nicknamed his newly discovered dwarf planet "Xena" – finding this name more convenient to use than the then-official designation, 2003 UB313. When this object was determined to be larger than Pluto, it gained international attention and forced a year-long debate among astronomers as to the definition of a planet.
The object's nickname "Xena" was used in the press. New Scientist magazine polled the public on their preferred final name for the so-called tenth planet; "Xena" ranked no. 4] Lawless rang Mike Brown in December 2005 to thank him for his "senseless act of beauty," and claimed that she "never dared hope [the name] would stick." Eventually, both it and Pluto were deemed not to be planets, and were instead classified as dwarf planets.
Although "Xena" is now officially known as Eris, Brown made an indirect tribute to Lawless by naming Eris' moon Dysnomia after the Greek goddess of lawlessness, although for a time that particular moon was named "Gabrielle."
Lawless has a background in musical theatre and she played Betty Rizzo on Broadway in a production of Grease in 1997. She has continued to pursue a career in singing after being a contestant on Celebrity Duets. She made her onstage debut at the Roxy in Hollywood on 13 January 2007, with a sold-out crowd for back-to-back concerts.