WB17 News at ten -October 1997
Toni: What do you make of all the hype the show is generating?
Reneť: This is the first trip back to the states where people are
actually recognizing me, and I have people go, "Yo, Gabrielle!". There
is a following for the show, but it's strange for us working in New
Zealand -not many people talk about the show, not many people approach
you, so it's always different when you come to the states. People
are much more friendly and accessible, so it's just bizarre. But it's
exciting. It's nice to know that, you know, we have a large age group.
We have children. We have older men. I had a man in his 60ís talk
about how much he enjoyed the show and the friendship of the two women
and it's just nice to see that it crosses both gender lines.
Do the producers play up the sexuality between the two characters?
It's funny because we started off completely platonic and then we
noticed there's an interest in what our sexuality is so we play it
up a bit, but then we've also decided that we don't want to stereotype
our friendship one way or the other as, obviously, the gay community
doesn't want to be stereotyped. So we just want to concentrate on
the friendship, the love between friends, maybe a mother/daughter,
sisters and try to condense that into these two women's lives. It
was a surprise, and we did play up to it, but I think it's more; just
Is there any controversy surrounding the show?
Definitely. There are a couple of scenes, for instance, where Gabrielle
and Xena possibly kiss or were bathing together, that a lot of people
were shocked, and um, some mothers wouldn't let their children watch
the show any more. Whereas in the gay community, people embraced us,
saying "Yes, finally!" You know we wanted to make sure that we kept
it open to all the world, you know, all... all the different brackets.
Itís a fine line. And since we are friends we have to keep true to
our friendship and not just play to one side or the other.
What are Xena nights?
We actually heard about that. The Meow Mix in New York, they
have a Xena night, and we heard about that the first season and we
were all completely blown away. We had no idea that people were really
embracing the characters like this. Now I think we're a little more
used to the fact that they have look-alike contests, and Lucy and
I always joke that we should go and try to participate 'cause we'd
Do you have a message for fans?
I just appreciate all the support. I know that Gabrielle is going
to be changing this next season where people might question her morals,
which is a big dilemma for my character and I hope people are patient
and just realize that everyone is human and that sheís going to make
mistakes and hopefully we can all learn from it.
Are you tired of playing the good girl?
The first season I definitely wanted to. I didn't want Gabrielle to
be too perfect, but then I appreciate the fact that Gabrielle has
strong moral beliefs and she's a wonderful role model for a lot of
young people, young women, and now that she's changing, I almost,
I wish that she could stay the same, you know, like Iím her mother.
I don't want Gabrielle to change, but she will and itís a nice challenge
for me as an actress. Iím playing dilemmas that I don't agree with.
Gabrielle makes choices that I possibly wouldn't make. Everyone changes,
everyone learns and grows through life experiences. Some are right,
some are wrong and Iím learning with her.
Where else have you worked?
I worked in a lot of TV movies. Luckily Iíve been working with a lot
of older actors
- James Garner, Ellen Burstyn; these people that Iíve learned from.
Iíve usually been the baby on the set, so I quietly just observe everything
and Iíve tried to absorb different acting techniques. Iíve actually
learned a lot through Lucy because Iíve never worked with a woman
before who's been so strong, so beautiful as a person and on the inside,
and Iíve um, Iíve changed by working with her. Iíve become, I don't
know, just more of a person, more of a complete person, more of a
What is it like to work with Lucy Lawless?
Sheís very charming. Lucy's very accessible. People can walk up on
to the set and she greets them. Sheís always willing to just give
more of herself than you'd expect. There was a woman, she's our horse
wrangler, and Lucy works a 12 hour day and then after work she went
and visited this woman at the hospital, took her home, took care of
her, and after 12 hours of filming, all you want to do is go home
and go to bed. So, she's like that. Thereís another side to her that
people don't know. Sheís very warm.
How do you train for those physical action sequences?
I actually get nervous right before the fight scenes, because although
Iím comfortable with it, I know Iím going to end up hitting someone
so I have to, but it's part of it, they're pretty tough. I started
taking kick boxing classes as my character started to fight more and
Iíve always been spoiled by the fact that the stunt men take your
punches and take your hits and they don't hit you back. And my first
boxing class, I was sparing with this woman who must have been in
her 50ís, a little thing, shorter than me and spunky, and she was;
she hit me! I said, "Wait a minute! Thatís not whatís supposed to
happen here," you know. It was just funny Ďcause, you know, you're
not surprised. Usually it's all staged, but itís different when you're
in the ring and people come at you.
Are you having fun fighting?
I love it. I do. Even though Iím nervous I still love the adrenaline
rush of fighting. Especially being a woman and being short and small
you love the fact that you can be tough and staunch and men go flipping
across the room, you know.
How do you like working in New Zealand?
New Zealandís wonderful. Itís like going back to the 1950ís. People
there are very warm, they have moral values, a lot of family events.
Itís funny, their Christmas is different, and this is always strange
for me. Christmas will be their summer, so usually they have barbecues
on the beach. And this year will be fun, just to have a different
sense of a more like a 4th of July picnic for Christmas instead of
the white snow Christmas.
What does the future hold for Gabrielle and Xena?
I know the writers are working on our friendship this year where we
might split up. Our friendship will be tested. And I think every year
no one really knows what we'll do. I think the audience plays into
that. I just hope that we continue to be strong and to try new, to
embrace our characters in a new way. I think the friendship of the
characters will be tested and, I think, I hope that we'll always be
true to each other and have a friendship that will be a part of history
-that everyone can say these two women were good people, you know,
influenced our lives in some way. Itíll be interesting to see.
Do you enjoy the Xena conventions and meeting the people
This is my first convention, so I really don't know what to expect.
Iíve been told that it's like a rock concert where everyone loves
the same thing and everyone's excited and having a good time but I
get nervous getting up in front of a lot of people so itíll be interesting
to see if, you know, it's something that I really love or if I become
a bit more shy. Itís different, it's like going to a different world.
Everyone speaks in Xena language and knows the costumes and
knows every character that's ever been on the show and that's almost
strange for you because they know it better than you do. There's a
group of people who love Gabrielle and theyíre having a picnic tomorrow
and they're going to have a squid toss and that's really funny because
they took one aspect of the show that Gabrielle hates, you know, hates
fish, hates to be on a boat and embraced it and created this wonderful
Are you afraid of being typecast?
I didn't worry about it at first because I didn't think Iíd be on
the show past the first season, and obviously the characterís grown
and now I worry because everyone calls me Gabrielle; that there may
not be an acting career after Xena, but Iím learning so much and I
appreciate the job. Who knows, I might not want to act again, you
never know. Iím just really enjoying it now.
Have your expectations changed since when you first started?
Iím very true to Gabrielle. I wanted to fight, I wanted to get us
involved in every part of the show Xena as I could, which is very
much like the character. Gabrielle was Xenaís tag-along and wanted
to be in the middle of the action. So that was very much a part of
me. Now Iíve become much more mellow and just enjoy the storylines,
the different characters that come on the show, which also helps Gabrielle
because she's more centered. Sheís more philosophical ... I would
like to see Gabrielle become more passive, more of a mentor to other
people, just to be the opposite of Xena. But who knows. The writers
are always changing everything.
What's it like to see yourself animated on the new Hercules/Xena
That was strange! I saw the Gabrielle sketch for the cartoon and everyone
agreed that my cartoon was closer to me than everyone elseís. Lucyís
character has this red triangular head with red hair, raven hair and
it's great! Itís so funny to see us all as a cartoon. It's interesting
because it's someone's interpretation of you and your character. Gabrielle
in the animated feature is much younger than Iím playing now and a
little more naive, because my character grows every season. Itíll
funny to look back on what she was like the first season. Weíll have
to look for all the people tomorrow dressed as Xena and Gabrielle
and find a six foot Gabrielle, so if we could find one, that would
be funny! I guess it's similar to the Star Trek phenomenon.
I don't know if Xena will ever be a cult where we're part of
history like Star Trek, but right now there's a following.
Ten years from now weíll really see the difference and see how we've
affected peoplesí lives.
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