Xena: Warrior Princess
New Zealand native actress Lucy Lawless gained international recognition and popularity among television audiences for her portrayal of the fearsome Xena: Warrior Princess in the long-running series of the same name. Fans of the athletic beauty can watch her in the recent and forthcoming EuroTrip (2004), Boogeyman (2005), Locusts (2005, TV), The Darkroom (2006) and Vampire Bats (2005, TV).
Off screen, one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” (1997), Lawless has donated a great deal of her time to support various charity events, including breast cancer research, the acceptance of breast feeding and prevention of child abuse. She is also a board member of the Starship Hospital Foundation. Because of her character Xena's indistinct sexuality, the actress received a large cult following from the lesbian community. Even though she is heterosexual, Lawless boosted this reputation by attending gay pride events like Lesbian Mardi Gras and the Sydney Gay. As for her private life, Lawless is the wife of Robert Tapert, whom she wed in 1998. Lawless and her husband of seven years, Robert Tapert, share two sons, Julius Robert Bay (born in 1999) and Judah Miro (born in 2002). She also has a daughter named Daisy Lawless from her first marriage to Garth Lawless. The couple divorced in 1995.
Childhood and Family:
Born Lucille Frances Ryan in Mount Albert, Auckland, New Zealand, on March 29, 1968, Lucy Lawless is the fifth of seven siblings and the oldest daughter in her family. Her father is Frank Ryan, a mayor of Mount Albert-turned-Chairman of Finance for Auckland City, and her mother is Julie Ryan, a homemaker and a vigorous volunteer in their community. Lucy grew up as a tomboy as a result of her involvement with her four older brothers.
Lucy Lawless, who carried nicknames Unco, Loo and Luce, was educated at a public school for two years before transferring to convent schools. The naturally dark haired beauty discovered acting in high school and went on to develop a love for it by performing in a number of musicals and plays. After an outing with her parents to attend an Opera in France, Lucy took opera lessons but later quit. After graduating from high school, the 17-year-old girl majored in foreign languages at Auckland University in Auckland, New Zealand, but dropped out of college a year later. She attended a drama school in Vancouver, Canada, and studied acting under the guidance of William Davis, the “Cigarette Smoking Man.” At age 21, Lucy was crowned Miss New Zealand.
In 1987, Lucy married her high school sweetheart Garth Lawless. A year later, the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Daisy Lawless. Unfortunately, their marriage ended in divorce in June 1995. Three years after the split, on March 28, 1988, Lucy decided to tie the knot with Xena: Warrior Princess executive producer Rob Tapert after he proposed to her in 1997 while in New York City. Lucy and her husband have two sons, Julius Robert Bay Tapert (born on October 16, 1999, in New Zealand) and Judah Miro Tapert (born May 7, 2002).
Discovering acting in high school, Lucy Lawless became involved in numerous musicals and plays. After a year studying foreign languages at a university, 18-year-old Lawless left New Zealand and traveled throughout Europe with then-boyfriend (later married) Garth Lawless. While in Europe, she supported herself by working as a grape-picker on the Rhine. Lawless then flew to Australia, in which she worked at gold mining. She got married in Australia and shortly thereafter made her way back to her native country. Deciding to pursue an acting career, Lawless began her career by doing several modeling gigs for television commercials. At age 21, she received her first acting exposure with the popular TV comedy series “Funny Business.” She was also featured in two big screen films, Within the Law (1990) and A Bitter Song (1990).
Arriving back in New Zealand after studying acting in Vancouver, Canada, Lawless quickly landed minor roles in the television series “For the Love of Mike” (1991) and in the movie The End of the Golden Weather (1991). Additionally, she had a regular job on television as the co-host for Air New Zealand Holiday. Lawless went on to pick up small roles in the following years, which included being featured as Jane Redmond in the drama film The Rainbow Warrior (1992, starring Jon Voight and Sam Neill) and portrayed Mink Tertius in director Yvonne Mackay’s Sci-fi Typhon’s People (1993, TV). Initially being featured as Lysia in the TV-movie adventure Hercules and the Amazon Women (1994, starring Kevin Sorbo), Lawless then made guest appearances as Xena in three episodes of the syndicated series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” (1995).
After having the title character in the short Peach (1995), Lawless’ biggest breakthrough arrived when she starred in her own syndicated series “Xena: Warrior Princess” (1995), a weekly series about mythological heroes and villains. Co-created by John Schulian and Robert G. Tapert, the show was a major hit and Lawless soon became a household name. She stayed with the show until 2001.
A multi-talented artist, Lawless showed off her singing talent when she was invited as a guest on “The Rosie O'Donnell Show” (1996). Singing “I’m An Old Cowhand,” Lawless was so impressive that O'Donnell praised her performance. That eventually opened up her chance to make a Broadway debut in the following year when she was asked (by the producers) to play the lead of tough talking Betty Rizzo in the revival of the musical “Grease.”
After Xena ended, Lawless reappeared on film with her role of a Punk Rock Girl in the 2002’s Spider-Man. She next played Kathleen Clayton in the short-lived series “Tarzan” (2003) and was cast as Madame Vandersexxx in director Jeff Schaffer’s comedy EuroTrip (2004, starring Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts and Kristin Kreuk). Recently, Lucy teamed with Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel and Skye McCole Bartusiak for 2005’s horror Boogeyman and had a small role in The Darkroom (2006, directed by Michael Hurst). The horror film starred Shawn Pyfrom. In addition to her work in film, Lawless had television projects on her plate. She starred as Maddy Rierdon, opposite John Heard and Dylan Neal, in her new TV-movie Locusts (2005). She also had a recurring role on “Battlestar Galactica” (2005), in which she was cast as D'anna Biers, a reporter who works on a documentary about the crew of the Galactica. Lawless will soon reprise her role of Maddy Rierdon for the made-for-television film Vampire Bats (2005).