The Final Chakram Throw
On Friday night at the 2001 Pasadena Xenaconvention, I had had the honour of going to the Women in Song Cabaret at the Pasadena Xena convention, which was Adrienne's first one. She sang "One Fine Day," "Black Velvet" and "It's Oh So Quiet." WOW! Adrienne was amazing!
Hudson Leick (who always steals the crowd) introduced her. Leick had been joking about how Adrienne was herself (soul of Callisto and all) and introduced Adrienne onto the stage by saying, "The younger, more beautiful version of me." Well, the crowd all shouted no, because Leick was trashing herself.
Meanwhile (as you will read later in the interview) poor Adrienne was all nervous to come on stage now! But she came on wearing a pink boa and got the crowd ready and just went for it. WHAT A VOICE! "Black Velvet" was amazing, because Adrienne played with her voice quite nicely and was just alive on the stage. But nothing beat "It's Oh So Quiet".
It's a Bjok song, and Adrienne was kind of being LIVIA saying the SHHHH part of the song, and it was like the Bitch of Rome was shhhing you. It was great! But Adrienne stopped and said she was going to re-start ("And you can't do anything about it") and be "less psychotic." It was amazing.
Well, I didn't really sleep that night. Who could knowing they were only a few short hours away from sitting down face-to-face with the talented Adrienne Wilkinson? The hours past and I got a cab and headed to the Ritz Carlton where all the Creation guests were staying. I'm driving through this very richy neighborhood, mansions to every side and then you come upon the Ritz itself. Okay, maybe the name should have given me a clue, but WOW! It's this amazing building which looks like a cross between a castle and a mansion and it's a brick red. You step through the doors into the lobby (where Adrienne and I were to meet) and I just wondered if this place had more then one! There was the main lobby and a sitting lobby, so I was all getting concerned that I was in the wrong place (hey, I was staying at a Comfort Inn; there was only ONE lobby!) In the lobby was this huge chandelier, a beautiful and giant vase filled with flowers. The chairs are wood with red velvet, and the halls were like something out of a medieval castle with the red carpets, artwork and more of the velvet lined chairs. Amazing! And looking out from the lobby was a patio garden with a large fountain.
Adrienne (right on time, I might add) came in wearing hip hugging blue jeans and a red, semi sleeveless top. You'd have expected this powerful force to enter the room, but really, with Adrienne, it's like meeting up with a good friend. She is very relaxed, easy going and not afraid to just be herself and give a great interview.
We stepped outside into the patio garden and sat at one of the white tables set up, and would soon be attacked by wasps.
Bitch of Rome: Well, first let me say that the cabaret was wonderful last night.
Adrienne Wilkinson: Thank you.
BoR: I wanted to know if you heard what Ms. Leick said about you after you stepped off stage.
AW: No, I was actually freaked. I have to be honest, I was very freaked out because Hudson said something really nice and the audience didn't agree and I was like, "Oh my god, I'm going to cry." Then I had to go on stage, so I was freaked out.
BoR: I think it was more that she insulted herself in the process.
AW: Yeah. I was just adorably self deprecating. I'm just sensitive because Ebonie [Smith] was like, "How do you follow that?" Because Hudson is just so amazing on stage and I said, "Hey, that's my existence as a character."
AW: That's my life.
BoR: Is that the first time you've met her in person?
AW: No, we actually met in London last September.
BoR: She said, "I've done a great job of spawning myself." "I look great as a brunette." Then she called you a "delightful snack."
AW: Oh! That's sexy. That's good.
BoR: So, first I was going to ask you about your new seven appearances "Coming Home" to "Path of Vengeance". Did you feel that the feeling on the set was any different knowing that this was the last season, when you first stepped onto "Coming Home"?
AW: Not at the beginning. The very first episode everybody was talking about how it was the last first episode, but then not again until the last episode I was in which was "Path of Vengeance," cause there were a lot of people that weren't coming back after that. It was really winding down. I think at that episode it was either Kevin [Smith]'s last one or he had one more after that and just small conversations along the way with everybody going, "Wow. This is really the last time."
Everybody expected me to be back for the end, it was sort of planned at that point so I honestly didn't have issues letting it go yet, cause I just assumed I would be back. But I completely agree with their choice because I think how it ended [in "Path of Vengeance"] was beautiful and you don't want to mess up a good thing so I think it was great.
BoR: I thought everyone looked really tired during "Coming Home" so I was just wondering if it had been a really hard shoot.
AW: Probably not any harder then the rest of them. I know with me they were playing up dark circles under my eyes cause I was supposed to be frustrated and emotional. I was still supposed to be having my emotional disturbing moments. So that was part of it, but a lot of it was just with Eve [being] specifically at that place [in her life]. She didn't have her new outfit, she didn't have her new stuff [and] she wasn't really whole yet. She was still really damaged. They were just playing with that a little bit.
All of us were depressed with it. We couldn't do any fun make-up; the costume was terrible [because] the material that it's made out got caught on everything. We'd be in the middle of a scene and I can't go anywhere because I'm trapped on a nail.
It was just really random stuff like that that we were dealing with. As Lucy and I say, in a friendly way, that my character loses (laughing) IQ points in every episode. (laughs)
BoR: Yeah, more on that comment later. So in this episode, they finally had you fighting hand-to-hand, which you thought you'd be more comfortable with and I just wanted to say you definitely looked like you were ready for it and you went totally at it.
AW: Uh. I have to say - talking about all of the new episodes - when I finished the fifth season and was asked back for the sixth, I purely one hundred percent assumed it was going to be Lucy, Renee and me kicking butt. I had no idea that they were keeping this same storyline and I was so grateful to be there, but I have to say what a shock it was when I got the script and I was not fighting and was all judgmental and it was a real shocker.
It was interesting that in every single episode I have filmed this year, has been filmed out of order, so that also was a bit different. The first episode I filmed was - to me - the whiniest episode. It's the one that actually irritates me, [which is] "Heart of Darkness". [In it] I'm always like (whiney voice) "Mom. Mom."
Mark Beesley directed that one and Mark also directed my favourite Livia episode which is "Eve" and both of us had the hardest time trying to deal with this character and what she was saying. Mark's like, "I don't know. Why does she have to say this?" And I'm, "I don't know either."
AW: It works for the storyline, but Livia was just so much more entertaining and fun and sexy and you know, all of that.
BoR: So what do you think made Eve finally jump into that battle in the beginning?
AW: You might have noticed the way that we filmed it - and I don't know if the audience was really aware of it or not - but we filmed it so she never hurts anyone. All that she's doing is pushing people away and using her skills to keep other people safe and she doesn't wound anyone. She's purely there for protection. What happened was [Xena] and [Gabrielle] were so busy fighting that they didn't see this one problem that was happening and I had to jump in. I was forced to and I didn't want to, but when I jumped in, I made sure that I was doing it for good. For a good purpose.
BoR: I thought you made an excellent fury.
AW: I loved that. I have to say I was depressed about that episode because the first three days I didn't say anything. They had so little dialogue written for my character so I just tried to play with my body cause the Furies are awesome. They are so funny and so much fun and just so free and it was a great thing to deal with.
BoR: Then the Amazons put the collar around Eve's neck.
AW: Oh god, yes.
BoR: I was wondering, did you film any of that and if so, did you see your chiropractor after?
AW: I filmed over one hundred percent of that and that was a last minute change. I was originally supposed to be burnt at the stake, but they thought it was a little too witchy, that it didn't quite make sense for the Amazons. So they developed this collar thing, which sort of didn't make sense because all the spikes were sticking out and the point was it was supposed to hint that the spikes were sticking in also, and that I was about to be killed that way. But that was awful.
It was hilarious and funny but [it was] the most humiliating thing because my hands were bound, so I couldn't do anything. I couldn't get in or out of it on my own. I was in control. It's never dangerous because I do all the movements and they just pull the slack on it so it looks like they're the ones doing it. I'm never in any harm and it was hilarious. We got pictures where I'm posing in it. It's just really fun cause it was a last minute thing.
I wore this bikini under the wrap thing and it was really, really little. When I got on set that day, about half an hour before we shot that, was when they introduced me to the collar [and] I was like, "Oh god. That's kind of humiliating." Then Mark Beesley tells me, "Yeah, they're degrading you, so we're only going to have you wearing the bikini." I thought, "Oh my god, I'm going to start crying right now." Even if you do something like that, you just want to be able to be prepared so half an hour beforehand is not good. It just wasn't good.
Fortunately all the wardrobe girls were on my side too because the outfit wasn't even prepared correctly, cause you never see it, [so] it was falling apart anyway. They came up to [Beesley] and they're just like, "No, that's it." They were my personal heroes for about a week because I didn't have to be 'nacked'. So that was good.
BoR: I just wanted to say it was another great tent scene. You always do those really well. The one between Eve and Xena.
BoR: And fans have to know if any of it was cut because there's this really intense moment going on between Xena and Eve and then all of a sudden she turns around and goes, "Oh by the way, sorry Gabrielle."
AW: Yeah. That scene was improved. [The writer] was on set and they were trying to come up with something and they actually filmed that scene completely different out in the woods, just between the two of them, but then they didn't like it. They thought it was too off the cuff as opposed to being really sincere.
What Lucy told me is that "Coming Home" takes place months, probably a year or more after "Motherhood," so we played that there had already been a lot of time of recovery. I know that some of the fans were disappointed that there wasn't a bigger apology but the way that we were playing it, is that it had already been done. That's the kind of thing where you either devote a whole episode to it or you just have to breeze over it.
It was kind of like Joxer's death. You could either do a whole episode on Joxer's death or it had to be just a small piece of it.
BoR: It was more the lack of the moment that you two were having that got cut and it was just, "Hey, let's finish up that conversation first."
AW: Well, funnily enough that was actually an interesting one too. We filmed it but on the day that I was leaving Auckland, they called and they had me stay longer because when they developed the footage all of my stuff was blurry, so I had to, all by myself, go in that afternoon and redo my part without anybody there. Just me responding to nothing. One of the stunt doubles was there so they could use her silhouette but nuts to nothing. It was literally nothing.
I was kinda shocked that it come out as good as it did. Lucy and I had some real moments in the tent, but I don't think you see any of those. I think what you see is - because they had already torn the sets down, they rigged up this thing with, like, Christmas trees behind me and just really [close] close-ups so that they couldn't see that it was a different set. So that was sort of all by myself.
BoR: I found it was a really good balance between Livia the murderer and Eve the peacemaker. I felt that this episode was the best balance between your characters, cause after that she just kinda goes all over the place.
AW: Yeah, it's very random and that goes back to the thing Lucy and I were talking about. My character's used a lot as motivation for storylines. [Xena] needs to go to Rome because Eve's in trouble. She needs to go here cause Eve's in trouble. She needs to go here to check on - it's that kind of thing. It's a great motivator, but it doesn't always make complete sense with how my character was developed.
Regardless of how blind your ambition is or blind your belief in something is, I don't think you lose that much of your natural instinct. I had to find ways to make that work. I always compared her to two things. I compare her to a born again Christian who's just *absolutely* devote and just full of their beliefs and then I also compared her to a recovering addict who's just terrified of ever going back to that place cause [she] enjoyed it so much. I don't think she hates fighting, I think she just loves it so much she's scared of becoming that same person.
BoR: Moving onto "The Haunting of Amphipolis," I found that Eve seemed incredibly terrified throughout the episode and I was wondering what led to that when Livia's so fierce.
At this point a wasp is flying around Adrienne.
AW: Well (chuckles) to be perfectly blunt, it's purely direction. For those first three episodes, like I said, we did them out of order - well actually, I think "Coming Home" was the ninth episode that we filmed. But the first three that I filmed were "Heart of Darkness," ["Who's Gurkhan?" and "The Haunting of Amphipolis"] and it was just a strange mix because I was really trying to figure out exactly what they wanted me to do with her, cause it's such a change. I was constantly in scenes trying to make her stronger and it just wasn't happening.
The wasp decides to move in a little closer to Adrienne.
AW: We're being attacked by bees.
The wasp is flying all around us and the table and getting nice and close for the following parts of the interview.
AW: This is not good.
BoR: (laughing) This is the fun part of the outside interview.
AW: Yes, exactly.
BoR: We'll sit here in terror over a wasp.
AW: Ignore them and they'll go away. Oh.
AW: (chuckles) Oh. (laughing) This is bad.
BoR: (laughs) All right.
AW: (laughing) Is anybody allergic?
FINALLY the wasp decides to move on.
BoR: Okay, that was a little interview break there. Okay, bee!
The next question just fits!
BoR: So first spiders and now maggots.
AW: Oh god.
AW: I do not do well with gross stuff. I do not deal well with it at all. God bless Renee, because she handles everything beautifully and I was just gagging. It was just...ugh. It was yucky, but fortunately, they didn't make us hold them for rehearsals or anything, so it was only at the last second. I probably dealt with them a total of two minutes.
Again, it was one of those funny things where they were very protective of them because it's animal rights. They don't want to hurt them, so we had to be careful that nothing was injured and everything was very protected and kept in the right temperature. Uuugh. (chuckles)
BoR: Are they giving you an eel next?
AW: Oh god.
BoR: So was it just godly inspiration that Eve knew exactly what to say to cast out all the evil?
AW: I think this is one of those blessings that Eli gave her that she didn't know about until it was that exact second.
Rob had this idea that he wanted it to be like she was keening, like she was just in a trace, which is what we tried to do. I said [those lines] so many times, but they cut out about half of the times I said it. It was ridiculous and we all kept thinking, "Like, my god, can't she say something else?"
BoR: Did it get boring?
AW: Yeah! Oh god, everyday I'd get to work and I'd kneel and I'd say the same thing. It was hilarious. It was so funny. I really love that episode. I think it's really funny. Not intentionally perhaps. And I think it's just a really good show. And it was just interesting cause, to my knowledge, [they] had never done a horror episode. So we're just trying to figure out exactly what worked.
BoR: I found the scene where the maggots vanished and then you slowly pull your hands up to [your face] and you're kind of shaking. I thought that was really powerful.
AW: I love that. On Saturday I did the scene where I was Livia and Eve. We did that all day long. The stuff that was just mine. We booked on a Saturday so we could just get it out of the way. We didn't realize how long that scene would take and we only had a half an hour left when we finished that scene. We worked on it all day long and in the last half hour, we did eight scenes, which is impossible, but the only reason we did eight scenes was because they were all the same thing. It was all me keening.
Just a random variation of it. "Okay, react to the ceiling. Okay, react to [a] scream." you know. Like it was just very fast but sometimes that works the best cause we get some very beautiful stuff right there.
BoR: I also love the demon sequence with Gabrielle and you're just sitting there screaming at her.
AW: Yeah. I love that. Again, god bless Renee, man. She's brilliant and she did that one all out and she had those contacts, which were just freaky. And they actually cut that scene down quite a bit.
Xena does an interesting thing that lines, as opposed to cutting the scene when they need time. They get miniscule stuff, so it will be interesting to see just how conversations flow sometimes cause it will be just different enough for you to notice from when you filmed it.
But even in that one, we did it for hours and Renee just gives a hundred percent every time. She had to be sweating, she was working so hard at just being possessed. It was great, it was so great. At the end of that, we all had to give such tremendous [energy] to that scene that at the end of it the crew clapped for all of us and it was just like, "Awwwww." It's one of those moments you just love cause you got it. The crew sees this kind of stuff everyday. It takes a lot to impress a crew and when that happens, you know you're rockin'.
BoR: Now speaking of [freaky], I read in another interview that you were walking down the hall and Mephistopheles, not the actor but the stunt double was behind you.
AW: I don't know it was the actor or the stunt double. I assumed it was the actor, but it didn't matter `cause he was this wonderful man. Wonderful, sweet man. He looks a lot like Michael Clarke Duncan, just really sweet and great. Oh my god, he puts that make-up on and I just - it was just the two of us in this one area as we're walking to the set and it was just really scary. (chuckles) Just out of nowhere and (almost laughing) I was walking so fast just to get away from him. It's terrible.
It's a weird thing about prosthetics. You have to really deal with remembering who that person is, because it really does change completely how you deal with a person and you have to remember he's so, so sweet. It was the same thing with Alex Mendoza when he played Lucifer. Get him in that make-up man, and it's hard for me to have a conversation with him. (chuckles) It's hard to really stay friendly. It can be really intimating.
BoR: The best scene has to be Eve meeting her victims. And it was an exact replica of when, from "Dreamworker" Xena had to face her victims and then face her dark side and that was a big scene to live up to. I thought you played that scene so perfectly.
AW: Well it's one of those things where I can't even think about the pressure, 'cause I just know that it's there and 'cause my character is representing Xena's past. She's always working through the journey that Xena's already worked through. There's always those references. Some of them I'm aware of, some of them I'm not, but I just have to do the best I can and try not to worry about exact specifics that were there previously.
That scene - I love that. I love it so much. It was just such a great difference between two characters and such an interesting way to deal with your past, to have it right there in front of your face like that was really interesting.
BoR: That was a phenomenal scene. Just the little Livia smirk when you go, "Really?"
AW: Oh, you have no idea. I drove the people nuts because that episode, we had to literally loop one hundred percent of everything. I looped for a little over two days.
It was insane. And we literally looped every sound and that "Really," when I did it on set was so perfect, that I did that over and over again because I just couldn't --get it --exactly there. And they were all like, "It's fine. We like it. We like it." And I'm like, "No! This is so important to me." It's just like, "Really." I always say that Livia purrs and she purrs in that scene.
BoR: You got wind machines again. And I'm gonna guess that that screaming was not acting was it? (laughs)
AW: Nah, that was completely real, but it's so funny 'cause there was so much on that set you couldn't control. There were cobwebs everywhere, there were leaves flying in your face, there was dirt. That was the worst part about it 'cause what they did is you face the wind machines and they had bags of leaves and who knows what else, right there by the fan. When it came time to do the scene they'd just throw them in the path of the wind. So you got just like, crap coming at you. And you're coughing and you're trying to get the words out 'cause there's dirt and there's stuff in your eyes. That was very yucky, but was still fun. It's one of those things where to do something that extreme it grrreat. It's fantastic. It's excellent.
BoR: Then Eve gets to meet Cyrene. And you guys are sort of sitting off in a little spot light and Xena and Gabrielle walk over to you, but we can hear you kind of murmuring. Were you guys actually using real dialogue or were you just, "Blah, blah, blah, blah"?
AW: We used real dialogue then but, again, we had to loop everything. I don't know how close it is to the original dialogue. Basically it was just some sweat nothings between grandmother and granddaughter about, "I wish that I could see you more." "I wish that I had known you." "I'm so happy that you're here. I wish you could stay." That kind of thing.
BoR: Now "Heart of Darkness". I absolutely loved it when you said, "Cancerous evil."
AW: (laughs) What's really funny was I was getting over a vicious cold and it's just something that happens with my voice when I have a really bad cold, I lose my upper register. So, I had (low voice) such a low voice (stops voice) in that episode. But I think it helped 'cause I was saying the most ridiculously dramatic things like, "It's a pit of Hell." Just random things.
BoR: It didn't look like you got to have as much fun as everyone else. Everyone else is getting all wild and crazy.
AW: Yeah man, that sucked! You have no idea how jealous I was 'cause I've been a dancer forever and they never let me dance on the show. Renee [O'Connor] is an amazing athlete but she's always like, "Oh lord, look what I gotta do." The poor thing, she doesn't enjoy it. She's just brilliant at it.
It's a funny combination, but I am so desperate to do some dancing on the show and they had this great orgy where they all got awesome costumes and I'm thinking, "What!? Why am I not in that party?" I actually think it would have been funny. I always thought it would have been hilarious if Eve was possessed by this thing and she's so pious and then she's just this crazy woman underneath. I think that would have been hilarious.
But instead I got to get hit with the fish, [and I] thought that was even funnier. (laughs)
BoR: I remember thinking, "Gee, I don't think Gabrielle likes your character." She stabs you in ["Motherhood"], then comes up and boots you in the head.
AW: I know. Isn't that funny? But that was actually my favourite part of the whole episode, when she hits me in the head. I think that's so funny.
BoR: What about when Virgil let you fall?
AW: That was funny too, but not as much 'cause his was sort of more smirky, slimy and it was also more planned, where the thing with Renee was just so unexpected. At least to me. I just thought that was hilarious.
BoR: When Eve came in after the party to face Xena, I thought that you guys were really intense and there as a little spark of Livia in there. Was that a hint to show us what would be coming up later on when you got the swords?
AW: Could have been slightly, within the writing a bit of a hint, but I think mostly it was just pure emotion. I think that at this point, Eve truly believed that her mother was making wrong choices [and Eve] was just desperately trying to fix things. I think that there [came] a point where she couldn't be nice anymore, that she had to get a little bit more of a backbone even if it was completely in the wrong [direction].
BoR: So Livia, this warrior is now Eve and she's kinda running through the woods like this: (demonstrates how Eve was running in "Heart of Darkness").
AW: (chuckling) I know. Again, this was "Heart of Darkness" with Mark [Beesly] and I think perhaps - like I said, that's the one where I'm least pleased with how Eve came out - we were overcompensating. We were both so in love with Livia and we'd do these scenes and I'd have wa-a-ay too much of a backbone so we'd have to go and do it again and Mark was constantly giving directions of, "No, no, no, no. No. No."
AW: "Can't. No. She can't do that. She can't --" you know. She just couldn't be too strong 'cause really, if Livia stayed as strong as she was, there's no reason for her to hang around Xena and Gabrielle. She has to [be] needy enough for whatever reason to stay with them.
We had had to figure out why and how and what made sense about it and who knows, time wise, exactly how long all this is supposed to have taken place over. I do think that almost immediately she was able to fix a lot of that, get a better balance in between the two.
BoR: But then you got to kick some butt finally.
BoR: They didn't really explain if there was a significant reason to getting those particular swords.
AW: Right. Part of it was just that I knew where they were and that they were specifically in the temple, which was now sacrilege [because of] everything that they had done in the temple. It was kinda silly 'cause there's weapons everywhere. It was very random, but probably, to be perfectly honest, it was just a great place to have the scene. It was such a beautiful set, so they had to have a reason to get me there.
BoR: Again, it was a great scene. "The heart can betray but the sword never lies."
AW: Loved that.
BoR: I loved that you finally got to kick butt. It was nice to see you having two swords.
AW: Yeah! That was great. The only thing that was irritating about that scene was you can't fight in my costume. It's impossible. My swords were getting caught in the material and - ugh. They had it taped to my body so it wouldn't fly around, ugh, it was crazy. It was good. I was so glad I got to fight again.
BoR: In "Who's Gurkhan?" I loved the facial expression you used inside Lila's house. When you hear Gurkhan's name and hear what happened to the family.
AW: Working with Michael [Hurst] is awesome. He tells you exactly what he wants so that you can do it right the first time. Working with him always goes smoothly. At least, in my experience it's always been great.
BoR: And on the boat, there was a great shot of Xena and Eve. While you guys were having that conversation; "I guess got my cold-blooded killing from you."
AW: I know and I think it's funny. I personally love that scene. Absolutely adore it. It's my favourite scene with Lucy [Lawless] and I think it's amusing how people took that, 'cause it can sound very callous but I think it's the first moment of true honesty that they've had. I think it has nothing to do with her being shallow and insulting about it. She's just saying, "This is in our genes and I'm understanding that now and this is just a fact." I love that. It's one of my favourite scenes I've ever done in the show because I think it's just the best moment of truth for Eve in the entire series. It's just, "This is who I am, but it's not who I want to be anymore. We're choosing this, we're fighting against it and that's that."
BoR: Was there anything in the script to say where Eve was going?
AW: No, it was tremulously vague.
BoR: You're in the end of this episode and then you're gone for a year!
AW: I know! And I didn't even know was gone for a year! It was very vague and I think 'cause they were researching storylines. They just didn't know when to bring me back or where to bring me back or how to bring me back, so they were just playing with things. All that we know is I go off and preach and it's not even specifically stated that [I'm] just off on my mission and it's unfortunate that we couldn't have a scene that specified that. A good-bye thing.
BoR: There was absolutely no [mention of it]. Was it just cut out? Was there a scene with Xena and Eve [going], "Hey! I haven't seen you in a year. How's it going?"
AW: Never. In fact, the funniest part of it - because we all thought it was hilarious that nobody acknowledged it - Renee's in this goofy hat for the episode and (laughter in voice) it was so funny, we were cracking up when we were filming it.
In the scene, she runs over and they replaced it with some other phrase, I don't know what it is in the show (laughter in voice) but when we filmed it, she comes up and goes, "Eve (pretends to remove the small hat Gabrielle was wearing) it's me."
AW: (laughing) And we thought that was so funny because, again, continually, Eve got less and less intelligent.
BoR: A year and you must be stupid right?
AW: Right. "I bet you don't know who I am." (makes big show of pretending to remove the small hat Gabrielle wore) "It's Gabrielle." (laughing) And we cracked up every time. The director asked us to say that we were like, "How dumb is Eve?"
So then we just thought it was funny and just played with it. We made it over the top and obnoxious. Renee would come over and be like, "Eve (makes an even bigger show of pretending to remove the hat Gabrielle wore) it's me-e-e." (laughs) And I'd be like, "Oh! Right! I know you!" (laughs)
BoR: "That chick that hangs out with my mother."
AW: (laughing) Right. Exactly. So funny. So funny.
BoR: You had told me earlier that there had been a lot of scenes cut from that episode. I was wondering if you could tell me about some of them.
AW: The only reason I know there were a lot of scenes cut was because, just like "Livia" we actually had an hour and a half of footage. They essentially had to cut half an hour, which is half an episode. Which is the same thing when we filmed "Livia". They had to cut that much out also. The majority of it I wasn't in, so I don't actually know all the stuff that they cut. That is one of the episodes I've seen all the way through and I know [with] my storyline I had so many people asking questions 'cause it didn't seem to make sense.
Yeah. (laughing) And it's because they had to cut so much of my stuff out. And not even that I had such a huge role in the episode, but just some of the things that were very explanatory, 'cause it just seems that, "What the heck is Eve doing with the angel and what's going on with her?" It just doesn't make sense and what had happened is the archangel, Michael, seduces Eve, which is kinda gross. But it just went along with the theme of the episode, everyone seducing (laughing) anything they could walk away with.
And the archangel seduces Eve and he convinces Eve that she needs to kill herself to advance her cause, to advance the message of Eli. So that's the reason she goes into the palace, because she's fully intending to kill herself. Xena knows this and that's the reason Xena punches her. She doesn't want to make this any worse then it is. She's just trying to get me out of the way, because she knows that's I'm misguided. It has nothing to do with me wanting to kill myself, it's just that I've been seduced by the archangel, Michael, and he leads me to believe that that's the whole reason I was born. That that's my entire mission as the Messenger of Eli: to kill myself to advance the cause.
So, unfortunately it didn't quite make sense. It's like everything moved onto that but since there was so little dialogue it was hard to follow that particular part of the storyline.
BoR: Eve had some great Livia fire again in the cell when Xena moves over to touch her face and you bat her hand aside.
BoR: I thought that was really well done. I also noticed that in this episode Eve had a necklace. Do you know if that meant anything?
AW: Yeah, it means a couple of things. It's green stone, which you see a lot on the show. It's a New Zealand thing. Any tourist that goes to New Zealand will either leave with a green stone necklace or a bone necklace, and they're all carved in the same fashion. I doubt you could see the detail on screen but carved into the green stone was the symbol of Eli, the fish that they have. There were other little markings that were supposed to be representative of the religion.
BoR: How much of this horse drag did you get to film?
AW: Aw, I love that! I love that stuff so much. I don't know why. But that was the first thing we filmed of that episode and it was early in the morning and it was fabulous because I wasn't connected to the horse at all because my hands were bound and it's just too dangerous in case something gets out of hand. So they filmed the horse part, I don't know what they were dragging when the horse part was filmed. It could have been an empty rope, but probably had some sort of weight on it, but when they filmed mine, my hands were bound but it was one of the stunt coordinators that was actually pulling the rope, but he's huge so it's kind of scary.
AW: I love that. Just the whole mellow dramatic, like selling it because I was in control of the falls, I'm the one that made it look that way that it did and they just always kept the slack out of the rope so it looked like it was [Xena] pulling me. But actually the scary thing was the only part I didn't like about it is that all of the townspeople, they all had rocks that they were throwing at me and of course they weren't real. They were probably like styro-foam or papier-mâché or something.
Still, that was a brand new thing for me on the show and we didn't do that during rehearsals and we do to film it (laughing) and all those people are screaming at me, throwing rocks. It was really kind of frightening all of a sudden. That was a new thing, but I loved it. As soon as it was over you'd run over to the camera to if it looked horrible enough. That's the kind of thing where you just can't go too far.
BoR: At the convention, Mr. Field showed us a blooper where Ms. Lawless takes off the gold helmet and she throws it at Ms. O'Connor and nobody caught it.
AW: (chuckling) It's funny because the scary part was that Renee was standing right beside me and my hands were bound (laughing) so [Lucy] kept throwing it and it kept almost hitting me in the face! (laughing) And Renee would grab it, just in time and it wasn't on purpose, it was just because we were so close, but that was kind of a bit of a moment. "Oh Renee, please get it!" (laughs) Because I was right in harm's way and since I was bound to that post, I couldn't get out of the way if need be.
BoR: Gee, they bind you a lot, don't they?
AW: Yeah, that seems to be a running theme.
BoR: Any other bloopers from any of the other episodes?
AW: Oh lord, there's bloopers all the time. Nothing outrageous. To me, one of the funniest things, just because it was such a hard episode to film, was way back in "The Haunting of Amphipolis," 'cause in [practically] every single shot [of] that entire episode had wind machines in them. Huge, ridiculous wind machines and they were throwing debris in them so it constantly looked like there were tumbleweeds and there were leaves going through the shots.
One of the very last things we had to film was outdoors and for us it would have been summer, but it was New Zealand's winter and it was just really chilly outside, plus you got the wind machine and you're just shaking, it's so cold, but you can't let that show on camera. All we had to do was get this shot where we are tying up the horses and we walk into [Xena's] mother's house.
The horses are already tied, we just have to stand there and make it look like we're doing something and then walk away. The horses were all tied up, but since everything was sort of dilapidated for this thing, there wasn't a lot of steady things to hold the horses to. (almost laughing) Every time we tried to do this shot, the horses would escape. They were all connected to something, but as soon as the wind machines would start up they'd be like, "Oh, I'm outta here." (laughing) And they would all leave. (chuckles) So, we couldn't just continue into the house, so that scene we kept having to do.
That kind of thing you remember just 'cause it was uncomfortable and funny 'cause the horses are so well trained, but it you were in their shoes, if you had the opportunity to get out of there, you would too. That kind of thing happens all the time.
Tsianina Joelson who plays Varia, she and I are kind of infamous a couple of times for just the giggling fits that we have. Most of the time it's not that bad, but our characters were so at odds that we were always saying this horrible, mean dialogue to one another and it would just crack us up every time.
BoR: Moving onto "You Are There" which, obviously everyone loves. Absolutely great scene there. You said at the con that the extras didn't know you would be swearing, yet when we're watching, a lot of fans commented on the fact that the extras have no response to Eve swearing.
AW: Yeah. (laughs)
BoR: They're just staring blankly at the camera.
AW: Well, part of being an extra is pretty much you don't do anything until you're told to do it. (laughs) And I honestly have no idea how many takes we did of that or which they used. So it could have been the first takes or it could have been at the end and for all I know, they could have told the extras it was funnier that they were so devoted to me that they didn't even bat an eye when I started cussing. I have no idea.
I just know [that on] the first rehearsal and [on] the first take, one of the women actually turned to me and she said, "No, are we really filming this? Is this a joke?" (chuckles) "N-n-n-n-no. It's real." And we had to have this conversation. She said, "How can you say these things? I don't understand." And of course, how could you if you didn't know the script? In fact, all of us, even after filming it were weary that it wouldn't end up on TV. That it was a little too much 'cause there as a question at one time of Eve being so vicious at that point of saying even worse things, but we were already so boarder line.
BoR: There were a couple of places that cut it in the States.
AW: Exactly, and there's pretty lenient on a lot of that. But even here, they cut out some of that, so we didn't want to have to cut out all of it. I'm so grateful that it made it. (laughs)
BoR: Moving onto "The Path of Vengeance". One more time you got to play Livia.
AW: (happily) Yeah.
BoR: Whom we always love to see.
AW: Oh, we do. This is such a funny story. I loved that finished episode. I thought it was great but when we were filming it, I just didn't know how it was gonna turn out.
It was raining every --single --day and we were having to work around that most ridiculous things and we kept getting really far behind because of the weather. Sometimes we'd only have a couple of takes and there was so much of it, we weren't sure how it was gonna come out. I was so proud of it when I saw the finished piece, but I just adored how that turned out, because we already filmed Eve's redemption twice and both times it was cut.
It was so nice to have Eve get redeemed and not have it be, for me as an actress, doing the exact same thing again. So it was nice. I thought the storyline was so much more interesting having it go through Varia and I thought it was interesting to be sort of a spectator, watching it. I was really pleased in the end. I was so happy I got to play Livia. I just glow when I get to play her, I just love her so much and it was fun. It was super, super fun.
BoR: I was wondering if you got to see the shot they did where Livia's coming up and she's about to kill Varia's sister and they showed that shot through Varia's eye, you're reflecting in her eyeball.
AW: Yep. That was a very specific shot. At the end it was the same thing with Lucy's eyeball and Varia standing over her and that exact same thing was the original intention. So it was very specifically placed and it was very strong, very mean.
When we first read that episode I was a little shocked, because, as an actor, you always love your characters no matter what. I know others would disagree with this, but in my opinion, it was the first episode when Livia had done things completely, truly unforgivable, because there was no reason for them. In the past, she's been conquering territories. She might have been killing innocent people, but she could justify that, because she was doing her job.
But as an actor the part that shocked me in that table read [was when] Ares tells Varia the story of how Eve throws all of her Amazon sisters overboard and just lets them drown. I thought that was the worst thing in the world and because I hated so much, I just played it like [Ares] had mad that part of the story up. For me it worked.
We were sitting [at] the table read, going through that part and I stopped and I asked the producers, "Is Ares making this up or is this a legitimate story he's telling or is he just trying to further Varia in this?" And they said, "Oh no, no, no, she really did this." And I said, "Oh my god, she is the Bitch of Rome."
She could always justify her reasons before that to me. At least I could figure out some point for her anger, but that was just loss of human life for absolutely no reason. That was a new thing for me, but again, it was nice that she finally got that redemption.
BoR: With your acting of Eve's guilt and the blue lighting that they used whenever you were in front of the Amazon tribe, it made Eve look really young.
AW: Yeah, just walking into that set was really neat. She was so confined. It was in a cave, inside a circle, inside the light, she was absolutely so compacted and I really wish she'd been able to state more of her story 'cause I think she's smart enough, that to blame so much on Ares is kind of irritating. I would have liked her to have owed up to it even more, as opposed to blaming everything on the God of War, but even so, I thought it was really well done.
It was so nice to have such differences in all the Amazon queens, both in the actresses that played them, but I just thought it was neat how they represented so many different areas. I love how it was done. Visually, when I saw the finished product, it was really, really nice. I agree that it made her look really, not even just young, but diminutive. Just very small, like she was almost shrinking, like she just didn't have any power.
BoR: It was a great final moment in that episode. I absolutely loved it, but since we know Eve is not in the last episode, it didn't quite seem like her story's been tied up. To me anyways. What do you think about the ending of Eve?
AW: I have to say that I loved it. It wasn't supposed to end there. I was supposed to be in the last couple of episodes, but literally at the last second they changed everything and I think that's appropriate. I have always thought that the show should end just with the two leads. I don't think there should be other storylines getting in the way. But I though that was a good choice.
We all assumed that I'd be back for the end of the show, so the good-bye that I had on the show wasn't tremendously sad at the time or even on screen. I think it was a beautiful moment, but it defiantly leaves the storyline open and I even like that 'cause there's so much that was never dealt with, with Eve, that every time she's in an episode, more issues are brought up that then need to be dealt with. So it was kind of neat to tie up some loose ends and to let her get on with whatever her journeys happen to be.
I like the way they handled it. It was so much more emotional and had so much more of an impact on screen. (chuckling) then it did when we were filming it. It was very fast. We had tried to do that scene three previous times, and we just kept running out of time everyday and that was literally the only chance we had. That was the last scene we filmed of that episode and that was around 11:30 and at noon "To Helicon and Back" started, so we had to get that one done right then. It was pretty quick. It was like the first time we had sun practically all week.
Everybody was so busy. There were twice as many people there, since they were doing two episodes that day and just all sorts of stuff happening. So we did it kind of quick. We tried not to make it terribly sad and then they added those great angles and the music and it was just fabulous.
BoR: Now, I have to ask. You step out of the screen and Xena calls out to you, "Stay out of trouble." And the camera has really panned out, but if you watch very carefully, you can see that both Ms. O'Connor and Ms. Lawless are laughing.
AW: (laughs) Strictly because of what Lucy was saying. It's just because of that exact fact. We'd all been talking 'cause the one disappointment that I have with Eve is that it always seems like, intellectually, she was sort of dropping down a notch in the episodes. As Livia she was so intelligent and as Eve I think she still of course had all that intelligence, but it's like she was so obsessed with her own message that she was trying to get through, that she sort of missed a lot of obvious things. Every episode I've been in recently was, "Oh my god, Eve's in trouble." "Mom, come save me." (laughs)
(laughing) Every single one of them. So it was a funny joke when Lucy said that. That's what I mean about when I see it on screen, it was so much more emotional 'cause it's beautiful the way it looks on screen, but the truth was (laughing) when we filmed it, it was really funny. Every single time Eve shows up, she's in trouble. (laughs)
And then [Xena] has to deal with it before she can get back to all her other stuff. It was a bit of a joke for everybody, but probably particularly a joke for Lucy and I since we'd been talking about it all week. So both for my benefit and for hers. She's like, "I've got stuff to do!" (laughs)
BoR: (laughs) Did Ms. Lawless add the line or was it in the script?
AW: Ah, no, that was completely improved. It was a little less interesting, a little more soap operay the way that it was written and we just changed a couple of lines to make it a little bit more the way that Eve and Xena actually would get along. Added a little sense of humour to it.
BoR: When you tried out for the role of Livia, you mentioned that you didn't know you were playing Xena's daughter. So when they told you, what was your first thought about that?
AW: So many of them actually. I don't know if I had a particular first thought, I didn't realize the resemblance that Lucy and I [have] and having not met Lucy, I thought she was even talker and that it would look kinda silly. I was really concerned that I wouldn't resemble her enough and fortunately that certainly wasn't a problem.
If I knew now that they were going to ask me to play Xena's daughter, I would realize what a large responsibility it would be. But the truth is, when I got the job, I was so concerned with all of the other things that went into the role. Learning the fight choreography, going to a different country, every show works differently. It's a very fast paced learning curve whenever you get a job on a new show, trying to figure out exactly how it works and who you need to talk to, where you need to be and all that stuff. So (laughs) I should have been more concerned and worried then I was. I just went in there thinking, "I'm just gonna do the best job I can." Fortunately I didn't worry about it too much, 'cause if I had, I'm sure I would have been much more terrified.
BoR: Which episodes was your favourite episode because you liked the story and which was your favourite to film?
AW: Oh god. (pause) I have so many different responses to that question.
I have a particular fondness in my heart for "Who's Gurkhan?" and I only worked on that one for a couple of days, but getting to be out on the ocean, in that ship was an amazing experience. I mean, there were so many shots that were ruined because everyone who sees that ship, for miles, they will come up to you. And boats that are out on the water will come up to the ship, 'cause it's so beautiful and out of the ordinary.
I was terrified. I had never been out on the ocean. It was a brand new thing for me, and it was so unbelievably beautiful, you wanted to cry. It was just great and I loved the scene that Renee and I did on the boat. I thought it was one of the best scenes we've had. I love the scene with Lucy on the boat, although it was filmed on the boat with the actual set, it wasn't done on the water. It was a replica set.
And Greg and I unfortunately have a scene --that was cut out, but it's my favorite scene that we've ever had [and it] was done on the boat. We were only on the boat for one day, but there was so much that worked so well. It was just beautiful.
I've spent almost every summer of my life up at a family cabin up on a lake in the Midwest and it reminded me of that so much. Everyone having such a good time and on our lunch break, we were all laying out trying to get a tan and silly stuff like that. I just love that. Not to mention working with Michael [Hurst] in any capacity is fabulous.
But really, just about anything. In "Livia" I would have to say there was so much going on that I didn't have a chance to really enjoy it. Character wise, "Eve" was my favourite. Loved that. For every single episode I just have the most fabulous memories.
I learned so much working on "Motherhood". I'd never worked with fire before, I had never really done stuff on the ocean, and the baptism scene was really a nice one. Getting to do all that stuff out in the desert, even though it was kind of brutal, it was just fabulous.
"Coming Home" was great because I got to meet Tsianina and she and I have become really great friends and it was just a fun one to film out in the Maori forest. I really just love them all. In "Coming Home" I loved the story between Ares and Xena. I thought that was great.
(laughter in voice) "The Haunting of Amphipolis" was ridiculous and wonderful. (laughs) It was occasionally a bit tedious just because I have to say the same thing the whole time, but it was so different from anything I've ever done. I loved it.
(pause) Ugh, all of them. Every single one of them was such a great experience.
BoR: Going back to what you said that in "Who's Gurkhan?" you had a scene with Mr. Lee that was cut.
AW: It was essentially a forgiveness scene. Just for background, you remember that episode is about looking for revenge and Virgil and I sit down and I say, "You've had plenty of opportunity to kill me. Why haven't you?" And he starts to answer and this moment just passes between us and I say, "No, you don't need to tell me, you need to tell Gabrielle." And it's a really great kind of thing 'cause we both understand each other, we know it's in the past, we're both on the same page, but it wasn't right in your face. I love the fact that it's well done, but it isn't obvious, because people are way too smart for that.
An audience doesn't need it spelled out all the time and I just thought that was a really nice scene. It was very short, but it was just a really good one.
BoR: What was your favourite Livia line and your favourite Eve line?
AW: (chuckles) I wish I could go back and look. On my website they do this sometimes and people come up with the most brilliant lines, and I've never actually looked at it that way. I (laughs) loved every single line that Eve got to say to [Nigel] in "You Are There".
AW: It isn't necessarily brilliant writing, but I thought it was just funny. I just loved it. There was some really great stuff.
One of my favourite things I would have to say is from the episode "Eve". This part was improved where, right where I enter the cathedral at the end of "Eve" and I say, "Aren't you afraid of me?" That whole part right in there was improved and I just loved that line. I think that just says who [Livia] is. She's so arrogant. She didn't care about right or wrong at that point. She just likes the power and I thought that said a lot about it. But there were lots of interesting things that she said and there were also some great lines between Eve and Gabrielle in the tent scene. There's a lot of really good little one liners and little bantering back and forth that's really witty that you always find.
BoR: Who was your favourite director to work with?
AW: They're all so different. I have a blast with Mark Beesley. I think he is just...I don't even know how to describe him. He's hilarious. He's this wonderful family man, but as a director, it's like he's had about a thousand coca-colas and fourteen sticks of bubble gum after eating eight hundred candy bars. He's just wired. He's so en-thus-ia-stic. It can be the end of the last day of filming and he has as much enthusiasm as he did at the beginning and there's just something nice about having that enthusiam.
I unfortunately didn't get to work with Michael Hurst very much as a director; it was only a couple of days. Obviously he understands what an actor needs, he understands the verbiage to use to get you to do what he's needing, but more then that it's just the visions that he has. He has very operatic visions, very grand but still realistic. Just very moving in the visuals he likes to have.
Garth [Maxwell] is a doll. He's such a doll. He's great. We'll always joke because he'll come up to me and Garth would give me about a five minute description of exactly - exactly what he wanted. He'd be like, "And I need you to tilt your head here and I need you to say this and look like this and do this exact thing." And go on and on with this description and then at the end of it he would say, "You know, or whatever you're feeling at the time."
(laughing) And he would always say that and of course you know he defiantly exactly wants what he told you, but it's nice that he's sweet enough to allow you to have your own vision in there somewhere too. He was just fun. The two episodes that I worked on with Garth were mammoth episodes; just huge. It was nice that he was so laid back and doesn't get frustrated and he's so open to ideas.
He was one of the best directors I've worked with for, "Tell me what you want your character to do." There's so much of it that he couldn't do, but I was allowed to tell him every single thing that I wish could happen to Eve and he took that back to the producers and the writers and they tried to give me a little more leeway, which, unfortunately, you didn't see much [of] in that episode. It was just being given the option; just having that level of trust is fantastic. But everyone was great. I'm so blessed to never have had a bad experience.
BoR: If you could write an entire episode for Eve, what story would you tell?
AW: (pause) I know it's so much more realistic for entertainment value to have lots of action, but the thing that I'm most interested in for Eve is just a big, giant conversation between she and her mom. There's so much that they never talked about. I think that could lead into lots of really great flashbacks and explanations. I would love to hear the conversation of Eve and Xena talking (chuckling) about Ares.
Eve and Xena talking about Callisto and Gabrielle and their other children. Just the past twenty-five years. I think seeing the history would be really neat, but I think at this point I'm more interested in the conversation that they would have.
And one other thing: I think I would love it just once [to have] Eve and Xena work as this beautiful team. Like they have the same goal; they're both fighters and throw Gabrielle into the mix for that matter. I would love for once to see them really working together in some brilliant fight.
BoR: You've said that Livia is your most physical role, so what you consider your most emotional?
AW: There were moments playing Eve that were right up there, but as a role, just because it was pretty much only emotional, I would have to say in Chicken Soup for the Soul when I played the girl dying from anorexia.
It was a lot of denial, but it was such a short filming time. We filmed the whole thing in two days and it was a short piece; it was only about half an hour. The entire thing was emotional, but all that they did was talk and she went from denial to acceptance legitimately in that amount of time. It actually made sense and didn't look too much like a cookie cutter ending.
BoR: Have you ever read any Eve or Livia fan fiction?
AW: Not much. It's a funny thing. I trust that eventually I will. I know that there's some fabulous stuff. I've heard wonderful reviews and I've read a couple of them. A lot of it has to do with time; I just don't have a lot of time to do that, but the other thing is, it's one of those things, as an actor, it's something that's past. You don't want to hang onto it too much. I'm ready and eager and looking for the next thing.
It's one of those things where it's great to go back to it, but I'm sort of not wanting to at the moment. I'm sure Lucy feels the same way. I'm sure Xena will be close to her heart forever, but I'm sure she doesn't want to put that outfit on for fifty years.
BoR: Have you ever surfed any Xena websites?
AW: Very, very few. When I first got on the show, I will admit I got a lot of information from MaryD's site. I think she had a fabulous site. But the majority of them I don't, just 'cause I know there's so many opinions, good and bad and I think that shapes your work too much. I think I have to figure out the character I want to do and just to the best job I can as opposed to trying to make everyone happy. So I just try to sort of let it go.
BoR: What made you choose those three songs that you selected to sing [at the convention]?
AW: (laughs) It wasn't really me. I was supposed to do cabarets twice before this and both times they got cancelled at the last minute. I can't remember the first time why. I guess they just couldn't get the musicians together in time or something. The second time, right at the last second, Ted had to go out of town so half the show was gone. So this was my first chance to do a cabaret and they had just asked me for song choices eight or nine months ago.
I gave then a list of ten songs that I would be happy with and Adam, who was in charge of the cabaret, basically he picked them because the songs that he chose really can't be done without a lot of instruments and normally there's maybe only two, three max. ["It's Oh So Quiet"] would have been impossible in any other situation. If they didn't have a horn section, you just couldn't do that song.
I love the fact that I got to do those songs. I might possibly get to do "One Fine Day" again. I'm really partial to that song so that would be nice. It's sort of my audition piece just 'cause it's very short but it shows a lot of different range, so that's nice.
BoR: I was wondering, do you guys get to see the video while you're waiting to come out on stage? Do you get to see the music tribute to you?
AW: (pause) Yes, you can see it from behind stage, it's just a reverse image, but, yeah, we can see it back there. But you can't stand directly behind the stage, you have to be sort of off to the side and there was a separate section back stage where most of us waited that you couldn't really see anything. But almost everyone has already seen their videos.
BoR: What did you think of yours?
AW: I love mine 'cause mine's the one James made me. He made that for me after Cherry Hill and it's just really fantastic 'cause he actually sent one to the fan club, so I got to see it last September.
BoR: Did you meet anyone interesting at the convention? What did you think about getting to meet [your fans] up close?
AW: Fantastic. I mean, I was telling someone after the convention was finished about how extraordinary it is to have a show that's gone for that long and [have] that many people from the show over that space of time and we have such a great group of people without exception. Just a really wonderful group of people that they just (laughing) do such a great job casting, just the type of people that they cast are really nice.
Most of the people there I already knew, guest wise, but a couple of them were new. Like, I'd never met Claire [Stansfield] before. I think that's about it. I think everyone else there I'd already met.
BoR: What about fan wise?
AW: Everybody was lovely. It still shocks me --I had a couple of people burst into tears and I never know what to do when that happens. I just think, "Oh my god." It shocks me that I have that much of an impact or influence on people. I'm amazed and so grateful and just, still shocked by it actually.
BoR: There was a fabulous Livia costume on Sunday. I don't know if you got to see it or not.
AW: (disappointed voice) No, I didn't.
BoR: Oh it was good. She had a severed head and everything.
AW: (almost laughing) Oh that's great.
BoR: (laughs) You did Livia's battle cry at the con.
AW: (laughing) Yeah.
BoR: I had to comment you did it differently.
AW: Well, we do have eight different versions.
BoR: Really? They only use the one on the show. You had this little interesting added thing at the end, which I liked, it was very cool.
[Interviewer's Note: It was this high pitched note at the end of the "Yahhh-yah!"]
AW: (laughs) What's funny is that when "Livia" started, they used that thing at the end, that really high pitched thing. They used to use that every single time and then for some reason the producer that does all the post production, the longer it went along, the less she liked that, so every episode we used it less and less. I say it almost every time that I did it and they would just cut it off any time they didn't like it. (laughs) That's very strange.
BoR: What was your first role ever as an actress? Not necessarily professional, even a school play. Your first role.
AW: Oh gosh. (pause) The first thing that I would count as acting probably, I was in this dance group or dance school I guess you would say when I was living in Arizona --that counts as stage work, but I don't think that really counts as acting.
I tell you my funniest job. This is probably one of my first professional jobs. Oh god, I was twelve maybe and there was a live theatre. What [happened was] my sister and I would live with my dad during summertime and every single summer for years we had these backyard performance groups where we would spend a month getting the show together and then invite practically the whole town and they would come to our backyard while we (laughing) put on this show, which was quite ridiculous but out of that, we actually got a professional job where there was a music theatre, probably about twenty minutes from where we lived and the guy who produced this show, his kids where on vacation, so he needed people to fill in, so he hired my sister and I.
We got to do a bunch of dances. It was like to this fifty's music and we got to do all these crazy dances, but the really, really funny thing --I consider this my first professional job --is that there's this old song that used to play in movie theatres called, "Let's All Go to the Lobby".
And they played that song and we danced around the stage, so I was a giant Coca-Cola. It was probably our first professional gig, but we had our choice: we could either get paid to do it or we could get paid in tickets. The whole family wanted to go, so we defiantly got the better end of the deal. We probably had thirty family members there.
BoR: Have you auditioned for anything lately?
AW: Yeah. It's a bit slow, but that happens every summer, because all of the TV shows are on hiatus and right now they were terrified to start any movies because of the upcoming strike, so if it wasn't already started they pretty much weren't gonna start it now. But now that's up in the air. Who knows if there will be a strike or not but I'm in the middle of filming a little movie called "Scavenger Hunt" and it's nice 'cause I get to play a villain again. So it's kind of fun. At this point I have no idea what will happen to it. It could be released as a feature, it could be released straight to video, could end up being a cable movie or something. I don't know. But we'll see. We're having a lot of fun filming it right now. I'll keep everybody updated on the site.
BoR: If you could pick one project, whether it's as an actress, a writer, a director or singer, what would you chose to do?
AW: That's so crazy because you could probably ask my every other day and I'd have another answer every other day. There's so, so, so, so, much that I want to do. There's so many characters that I would like to explore. I wanna do lots of mainstream stuff but I just, I still --you think it would have waned by now, but I still have a particular obsession for the story of Mata Hari.
I think it's completely interesting and untypical, but also it would be a period piece. She died in . I think it would be a very interesting story and even if I don't get the chance to make it, I think a decent version needs to be made. They've made a couple of versions before, but they were cheesy, silly things.
She was a woman who was put to death by the French for being a double agent. She was the first female spy to be killed and she's known as being the best female spy that ever lived, but the reality (laughing) is that she was horrible. She was a terrible spy and they killed her for being a double agent but she never had any actual evidence. She couldn't have accused anyone legitimately and made a case of it to save her life.
She just has an interesting story 'cause she was a courtesan at first. She lost her family early on and then she was in a terrible marriage where her nanny tried to kill the whole family and succeeded in killing her children. One of her daughters managed to make it through that, but her husband that was very abusive took her from her and she never saw her again.
To make money --this is the cheesy factor --she was also known as the world's first stripper, although she didn't really strip. If you boiled it down to one thing, she was the world's greatest con artist, because she was trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes, but just 'cause she was constantly coming up with a scheme just so she could survive.
[She] loved money and didn't have a clue how to keep it. She would spend ridiculous amounts and had no head for business, but was also brilliant.
She spoke seven languages. She was the highest courtesan in Paris because she convinced people she (chuckling) was an Indonesian princess and she would do these special engagements. One of the first ones was in a museum where people showed up and she would do her (chuckling) native dancing, which was hilarious because she's making up the whole thing. But because of this she just became unbelievably wealthy and then when the gig ran up that's when she went to the government and said, "How 'bout I spy for you?" And it was a big joke 'cause they knew she couldn't spy.
She thought she could fake her way through and eventually the war was going so poorly that they needed someone to blame, so she was an easy target and they manufactured evidence against her and they killed her. Just from the documents that they have of her, she was just a really interesting person. I think it would just make an interesting movie.
They killed her at a firing range with thirteen different people shooting at her. Normally they tied a person to the post and they blindfolded them, and she refused to be blindfolded or tied to the post. She just stood there to take it and right when they were about to shoot at her she blew them all kisses and then they killed her. Visually, that's such a stunning story.
The fact that everything people knew about her, everything that is her history isn't true and yet everything that is true, no one knows. I just think that's very interesting.
BoR: That would make an amazing story.
AW: Yeah and yet they've made it twice terribly. Oh god, the movie they made first was in the 1930s, but they just wanted a reason to show some of her skin, so the only things they focused on was that she was supposedly a stripper, which isn't even true. When she would do her little Indonesian dancing she'd take off scarves and wear really small costumes. It was very brazen for the time, but not actually a big deal. [With] her story, that's such a tiny, little piece of it.
Her story's just particularly interesting and also very sad. She lost everything she ever had again and again and again.
But really, what wouldn't I like to do? I would love to do one time a really cool action movie, just 'cause it'd be a cool thing to do. I would love to do period drama, modern dramas, I love to do comedies; I can think of very little that I wouldn't like to try out at least once.
BoR: I was wondering if, yourself and the other people who work on Xena, know the impact that you have had on the world?
AW: The question is yes and no. I mean, I don't think there's any real way to understand that kind of thing, because the population that it affects is so huge. I'm still at the place where every time I go to a convention, I'm shocked people showed up to meet me. I still have a bit of dismay at even just small groups of people, even when there's a few hundred people who are interested to hear about my experiences. I still think it's amazing 'cause I know my family's interested, but the fact that people I've never even met love it so much, that's something that really is hard to comprehend. But on the other hand, absolutely, I see it every day.
At conventions I can think of at least three times off the top of my head when I've had people tell me that the show has stopped them from committing suicide, which is such a huge, shocking thing to me. That's huge.
I met someone in New York about a month ago that was just weeping, saying that she was a recovering addict and that's how she saw Eve. That every week she would watch that and she had the episodes on tape and she would watch those for inspiration because if a character can change that completely, that a real person can too. It's shocking, but you know, you know that it's possible. Perhaps not for everyone who watches it, but you know that affects like that do exist.
And even just within business wise, just in the industry. This show started the year that I moved to California. It started in '95 and I graduated in '95. I was seventeen, so I couldn't do anything until I was eighteen and I didn't know the ropes and it took me awhile to figure things out. But I can't even tell you the difference between auditioning a few years ago and auditioning now, the difference in female characters and I know Xena [is] a huge part of that. Having action stars that are women. Not even action stars, just strong women on TV. That used to be a rare thing.
This year I can tell you almost exclusively that [that was] the only thing I auditioned for. I mean, with everything, there's a limit to the amount [of shows there will be]. They're not going to have twenty shows on TV about action females, but I can guarantee there were at least twenty pilots that were available, that people are trying to shop to the networks that are action females that are the leads of the shows and that never would have happened before without people being brave enough to try it and of course without the success of it.
It is a two part answer. In some ways it's overwhelming and it's hard to comprehend, that you could mean that much to people, that you could have that much of an affect because it's not directly --like I'm helping you through the day, everyday and I've never even met you, that's a hard thing to wrap your brain around. Each and everyone of us that's on the show knows from other experiences too, from the things in our lives that affect us in that way. So even if the show doesn't have the same impact for us individually we know things that do, so in that way you can have it make sense for you, but it's extraordinary. It really is. It's just such an amazing thing.
A big THANK YOU to Ms. Wilkinson for the interview!