Lucy Lawless

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Lucy Lawless
20120713 Lucy Lawless @ Comic-con cropped.jpg
Lawless at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2012
BornLucille Frances Ryan
(1968-03-29) 29 March 1968 (age 46)
Mount Albert, Auckland,
New Zealand
Other namesLucy Tapert
OccupationActress, musician
Years active1989–present
Spouse(s)Garth Lawless (1988–95)
Robert Tapert (1998–present)
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Lucy Lawless
20120713 Lucy Lawless @ Comic-con cropped.jpg
Lawless at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2012
BornLucille Frances Ryan
(1968-03-29) 29 March 1968 (age 46)
Mount Albert, Auckland,
New Zealand
Other namesLucy Tapert
OccupationActress, musician
Years active1989–present
Spouse(s)Garth Lawless (1988–95)
Robert Tapert (1998–present)

Lucille Frances "Lucy" Lawless, MNZM (née Ryan; born 29 March 1968) is a New Zealand actress, activist 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 as Number Three on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, and for the role of Lucretia on the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.

Early life[edit]

Lucille Frances "Lucy" Ryan 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.[1] She has four brothers and one sister, and was the fifth of the six siblings herself, having described her family as "this big, sprawling Irish Catholic family."[2] 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.[3]

Ryan appeared in her first musical at the age of 10,[4] and began acting in secondary school. She attended Marist College, New Zealand. She later said she "used to quite like bulimia", but was able to overcome the illness.[5]

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.[4]


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.[4]

Lawless at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2010.

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's 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 she fell ill and was unable to travel to New Zealand for shooting. To differentiate between Xena and the similar Lysia, Lawless' hair, previously 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: The Legendary Journeys episode "Outcast," transmitted in October 1995.) Xena: Warrior Princess, like its parent program, was a hit, lasting six seasons, and Lawless became an international celebrity.

Lawless in January 2007

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, but several episodes of the second season of Xena were rewritten to focus on background characters to minimize the time Lawless was needed on set.[citation needed]

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."[6]

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.[7]

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.[8] This reputation has become cemented after her "graphic lesbian sex scenes" in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.[9][10] Although Lawless is heterosexual, she has appeared at gay pride events such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.[11] 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.[12]

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.

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).[13][14]

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.[15]

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 own husband. Lawless played the role of Lucretia, the wife of Lentulus Batiatus, who were both the owners of a gladiator ludus, which also saw Lawless doing nude scenes for the first time. Lawless won the 2011 Saturn Award as Best Supporting Actress for her role as Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Lawless reprised her role as Lucretia in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which chronicled life in the Ludus before Spartacus's arrival, and she also returned for the sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.

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. Since 2012, Lawless has had a recurring role on the NBC series Parks and Recreation as the love interest of Ron Swanson.

Other appearances include:


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.[17] It is set up to provide additional equipment, support and help to staff, patients and families.[18] She devotes much time and energy to fundraising for the organisation. She recently sat for the New Zealand television series The Sitting,[19] an arts series where celebrity portraits are produced during an interview session, with the portraits later auctioned for charity. Lawless 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, Lawless sang at New Zealander of the Year donating her appearance fee to the Starship Foundation. Since 2006, 21 September marks "Lucy Lawless Feel the Love Day/Week." 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 Lawless.[20][21]


In May 2009, Lawless became a "climate ambassador" for the Greenpeace "Sign On" campaign.[22]

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.[23] She was subsequently arrested and charged with burglary, which carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years if convicted.[24] 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.[25] 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."[26]


Astronomer Michael E. 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 number 4.[27] 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."[28] 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.[29]

Singing career[edit]

Lawless at the Roxy, 2007

Lawless has a background in musical theatre and she played Betty Rizzo on Broadway in a production of Grease in 1997.[30] 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.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

At 19, Ryan became pregnant; Garth Lawless was the father. She and Garth Lawless 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).




1990Within the LawVerity
1990Bitter Song, AA Bitter SongNurse 1Short film
1991End of the Golden Weather, TheThe End of the Golden WeatherJoe's Girl
1996PeachPeachShort film
1997Hercules & Xena: Wizards of the ScreenXenaShort film
1998Hercules and Xena – The Animated MovieXena (voice)Video
2002Spider-ManPunk Rock Girl
2004EuroTripMadame Vandersexxx
2005BoogeymanTim's Mother
2006Darkroom, TheThe DarkroomCheryl
2008Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn TwilightGoldmoon (voice)Video
2008Justice League: The New FrontierWonder Woman (voice)Video
2008Bedtime StoriesAspen
2009Bitch SlapMother Superior
2010Lez ChatConstruction WorkerShort film


1989Funny BusinessVariousTV series
1990Shark in the ParkKim HughesEpisode: "Double or Quits"
1991For the Love of MikeHelenEpisode: "1.6"
1992Ray Bradbury Theater, TheThe Ray Bradbury TheaterLiddy BartonEpisode: "Fee Fie Foe Fum"
1993New Adventures of the Black Stallion, TheThe New Adventures of the Black StallionSarah McFeeEpisode: "Riding the Volcano"
1993Rainbow Warrior, TheThe Rainbow WarriorJane RedmondTV film
1993Typhon's PeopleMink TertiusTV film
1994Hercules and the Amazon WomenLysiaTV film
1994High TideUndercover policewomanEpisode: "Shanghied"
1995High TideSharon ListEpisode: "Dead in the Water"
1995Hercules: The Legendary JourneysLylaEpisodes: "As Darkness Falls", "Outcast"
1995Hercules: The Legendary JourneysXenaEpisodes: "The Warrior Princess", "The Gauntlet", "Unchained Heart"
1995–2001Xena: Warrior PrincessXenaLead role (134 episodes)
1997Hercules: The Legendary JourneysXenaEpisodes: "Judgment Day", "Stranger in a Strange World"
1998Hercules: The Legendary JourneysXenaEpisode: "Armageddon Now: Part 2"
2001Just Shoot Me!StacyEpisode: "The Auction"
2001X-Files, TheThe X-FilesShannon McMahonEpisodes: "Nothing Important Happened Today: Parts 1 & 2"
2003TarzanKathleen ClaytonMain role (7 episodes)
2004Less than PerfectTracy FletcherEpisode: "Ignoring Lydia"
2005Two and a Half MenPamelaEpisode: "It Was Mame, Mom"
2005LocustsMaddy RierdonTV film
2005Vampire BatsMaddy RierdonTV film
2005–2009Battlestar GalacticaD'Anna BiersRecurring role (16 episodes)
2006Veronica MarsAgent MorrisEpisode: "Donut Run"
2007Burn NoticeEvelynEpisode: "False Flag"
2007Curb Your EnthusiasmLucy LawlessEpisode: "The TiVo Guy"
2007Football WivesTanya AustinUnsold TV pilot
2008CSI: MiamiAudrey YatesEpisode: "Cheating Death"
2009L Word, TheThe L WordSgt. Marybeth DuffyEpisodes: "Long Night's Journey Into Day", "Last Word"
2009Flight of the ConchordsPaulaEpisode: "NewZealandTown"
2009Angel of DeathVeraEpisode: "Help"
2010Spartacus: Blood and SandLucretiaMain role
2011Spartacus: Gods of the ArenaLucretiaMain role
2011American Dad!(voice)Episode: "A Piñata Named Desire"
2011No Ordinary FamilyHelen BurtonRecurring role (4 episodes)
2011Hunted: The Demon's ForgeSeraphine (voice)Video game
2012Spartacus: VengeanceLucretiaMain role
2012–2014Parks and RecreationDiane LewisRecurring role
2013Top of the LakeCaroline PlattTV miniseries
2014Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Isabelle Hartley
2014The CodeAlex WishamTV miniseries


1997Saturn AwardBest Genre TV ActressXena: Warrior PrincessNominated
2010Golden NymphOutstanding Actress – Drama SeriesSpartacus: Blood and SandNominated
2010Saturn AwardBest Supporting Actress on TelevisionSpartacus: Blood and SandWon



Concert DVDs[edit]

Other songs[edit]


  1. ^ "Lucy Lawless Film Reference biography". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "ESSENTIAL LUCY". Lucy Lawless. AUSXIP. 2 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Gaffney, Siobhan (2004). "Grainne Mhaol". Ireland on Sunday. 
  4. ^ a b c Biography, NZ On Screen website
  5. ^ "Lawless Bulimic No More". People. 17 May 1999. Retrieved 18 June 2011. 
  6. ^ "Lucy Lawless – Newsweek Magazine – Her Cup Runneth Over". 19 May 1997. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ " – Xena and Gabrielle: Lesbian Icons". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  9. ^ Winnie McCroy (22 June 2011). "Girl on girl action becomes passé". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "Lucy Lawless and lesbians bring the sexy to the "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" trailer.". 27 July 2009. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  11. ^ "Lucy and Renee in Sydney in 1999 – Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  12. ^ Lesbian News[dead link]
  13. ^ ABC's 'Football Wives' Still Alive,, 28 June 2007.
  14. ^ "Football" still in ABC's game, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 June 2007
  15. ^ Hustvedt, Marc (21 October 2008). "Behind the Scenes with Crackle's 'Angel of Death' Zoe Bell". Tubefilter News. Retrieved 21 October 2008. 
  16. ^ Nunneley, Stephany (28 April 2011). "Lucy Lawless discusses Seraphine in new "making of" trailer for Hunted: The Demon’s Forge". VG247. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  17. ^ Board of Trustees, Starship
  18. ^ "Home". Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  19. ^ Lucy Lawless on The Sitting on YouTube
  20. ^ "Lucy Lawless Feel The Love Week - Doing Charitable Acts In Honour of Lucy Lawless". Lucy Lawless site. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Feel the Love 2013". Official Lucy Lawless Fan Club. October 20, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Sign On". Greenpeace New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  23. ^ "Lucy Lawless boards oil drilling ship". February 2012. 
  24. ^ "Lawless charged with burglary after ship protest". Television New Zealand. 27 February 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  25. ^ Nick Perry (14 June 2012). "Actress Lucy Lawless Pleads Guilty to Trespass". ABC News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2012-06-15. 
  26. ^ "Lucy Lawless sentenced, and the warrior princess is thrilled". Los Angeles Times. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  27. ^ O'Neill, Sean (8 August 2005). "Your top 10 names for the tenth planet". New Scientist. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  28. ^ "Messages from Lucy". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  29. ^ Tytell, David (14 September 2006). " – Homepage News – All Hail Eris and Dysnomia". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  30. ^ "AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Grease! Lucy Lawless on Broadway". 28 September 1997. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Susan Eisenberg (2001–2006)
Actress to voice Wonder Woman
Succeeded by
Keri Russell (2009)