Lucy Lawless is a very different kind of beautiful. Her power is front and center, with her broad smile and straight talk cutting to the chase and giving the distinct impression that she doesn't suffer fools. The sultry star has earned a singular place in the public eye as an image of strength, whose characters focus a piercing fire toward such ends as kindness, justice, and vicious retribution. As Lucretia, the fair lady of the house of Batiatus on the Starz original series, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," Lawless stops at nothing to regain the former wealth of her husband's ludus, where gladiators are trained to kill and die in the arena. Set in ancient Rome, "Spartacus" sees Lawless's seductive matriarch use everyone within reach to ingratiate herself and her husband, Lentulus Batiatus (John Hannah), with those of higher station. Her performance is a sly study in greed, betrayal, and ruthless pursuit of socio-financial ascension.
Before she embarked on this reimagined tale of Spartacus [played by Andy Whitfield], the enslaved gladiator who dares to challenge the Roman supremacy, Lawless achieved stardom as the title character on "Xena: Warrior Princess" (1995-2001). The sword-wielding heroine on the first-run syndicated series quickly developed a devoted following of admirers, who reveled in Lawless' portrayal of kick-ass, hack-'n'-slash fearlessness, which guarded a tender core of warmth and femininity. With her faithful companion, Gabrielle (Renée O'Connor), at her side, and her knife-edged "chakram" disc always at the ready, Xena took her place among the pantheon of indelible television heroes. And while tearing through the adventure, which was shot in her native New Zealand, Lawless also found herself a family -- as she married Rob Tapert, co-creator of the fantasy saga, and they have two children together. Tapert currently co-produces "Spartacus," along with Sam Raimi, Josh Donen, and Steven S. DeKnight.
Amid the priorities of motherhood, which included dedication to her first daughter, Daisy, from a previous marriage, Lawless found time for numerous post-"Xena" projects. The statuesque thespian appeared on "The X-Files," "Veronica Mars," "Burn Notice," and "CSI: Miami," as well as in Spider-Man (2002) and a hilariously deviant vignette in Eurotrip (2004). She also offered her voice talent to the animated releases, Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight as Goldmoon, and Justice League: The New Frontier as Wonder Woman. And after lending her pipes to the FOX reality show, "Celebrity Duets," in 2006, she took to the road for a series of sold-out live performances in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and London. As her first long-term project in some time, Lawless recently took on the role of D'Anna Biers, a reporter with a wicked secret on "Battlestar Galactica." And in a playful turn, the vivacious Kiwi showed up as the Prime Minister's assistant on HBO's New Zealand-spawned hit comedy, "Flight of the Conchords." The actor-chanteuse, who grew up with six siblings in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert, where her father was mayor, also enjoyed a stint on Broadway in 1997, as the rough-and tumble Rizzo in "Grease."
We meet with Lawless for brunch at Pane e Vino on Beverly Boulevard. The renowned performer proves a consummate conversationalist, who eschews the trivial and rolls herm eyes when you call her an icon. Here's what transpired:
News submitted by Barbara Bruno