Lucy Lawless Brings Back the Bad Girl
By Noah Michelson
We�ve talked a bit about how the show is controversial -- it certainly doesn�t shy away from the gore or the sex -- but the approach to being gay almost seems ho-hum.
I�m not sure that it was ho-hum, but it was certainly part of your exploration as a young man. The appropriate marriage partners were being very closeted away in their fancy palaces. There was a certainly a load of prostitution and boy-love. I don�t mean boys like children. I don�t know about that. I�m not qualified to say. But certainly part of the young male experience was to test things out. They had just a different relationship to sexual identity and I don�t think you had to nail it down. It was certainly frowned upon in some texts to be too promiscuous. They knew that might not be good for you -- of course STDs have always been around. It is really interesting. You know what�s nice about Spartacus is that they have a gladiator who was gay and manly and he has one of the few true love relationships [on the show] with a young man who also is in the same ludus -- that�s a gladiator training camp. And it causes no problems for them whatsoever -- the fact that they�re identified that way. It�s really nice to see gay men being portrayed as something other than cardigan-wearing hand-flappers -- not that there�s anything wrong with that�
But it does buck a particular stereotype, which is refreshing.
Yeah it is. And that�s what happens in real life.
You yourself are no stranger to the gay world. I was a gender studies major in college and I knew so many dykes who wrote term papers about Xena --
[Laughs.] Oh, that�s bizarre.
Yeah, but they did. When did you first recognized that you were a lesbian icon?
Episode 8 of Xena in the first season. Because the lesbian community was the first one to take the show, draw massive attention to it, and kind of in a way made it hip and edgy. It was simply that demographic that picked up the ball and ran with it.
You must still get a lot of attention from them.
Well, I get lots of support from that community. And I try to return in kind. I�m very grateful to everything they did for the show, for me, for charities, for one another. I feel pro-human being. So gay rights are equal rights. I don�t know what the fuss is about frankly.
You mentioned nudity on the show. How do you feel about nudity for yourself, when you�re acting? Is it an issue?
In the abstract it doesn�t bother me. It was important in the scene. Certainly where I�m involved there�s nothing gratuitous about any of it. But I will confess that doing it for real was pretty confronting. I felt very inhibited, but I didn�t have any choice in the matter and you want it to get over and done with quickly. But I was stressed. And I went straight home to bed afterward. Mostly I was stressed because there�s all these women playing slaves hanging around like a bad smell following you everywhere. You�re trying to do this intimate scene with a trusted colleague and these women are just standing there. They�re from Nigeria and Cameroon and places like this, and I had been talking with them. And I was just so freaked out thinking, What are these women thinking? They must be thinking, �Bitch! In my country you would be stoned for that. Just for acting that with somebody who�s not even your husband.� Or just for -- whatever. Anyway, we all became great friends and they seem to have forgiven me.
Lastly, would you ever consider picking up Xena�s sword again?
Yes. I love that character. I would do it if it was a movie. I doubt I would do it as a TV series. I can�t see how you would make it fresh. And by the time somebody does come up with that I�m just going to be too old. And I�m really sad about that. I feel like it�s a completely wasted franchise. Rob really wanted to get that going. In fact they did early on and I was just too tired and thought I was bullet proof and would be in demand forever. And that killed it.
Spartacus debuts Friday January 22 at 10pm ET/PT on Starz.