Lucy Lawless is attracting a lot of attention for her latest character — not that the New Zealand actress isn’t used to recognition.
As Xena: Warrior Princess, Lawless gained a surfeit of spirited sci-fi fans that adored the cult TV show for six years before following it as one of the sexy Cylons on Battlestar Galactica.
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Now Lawless isn’t just stirring the fantasies of fanboys worldwide — she’s fulfilling them. In her provocative new gladiator series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand (premiering on The Movie Network and Movie Central this Monday), Lawless is just one of many characters that spends plenty of on-screen time shedding their togas.
“It’s really kind of a spooky thing,” laughed Lawless of the series’ lack of dress. “The good news is that we have very sympathetic producers who work very hard to make us all look fantastic even (in high-definition). I mean, nobody really looks good on HDTV past the age of nine.
“You get that big old pimple on your bottom, everybody’s going to see it.”
Lucky for the cast, Spartacus is a thrilling mix of gritty violence and graphic imagery to distract viewers from any blemished bodies.
In fact, with the world of gladiators largely produced in post-production, one might assume it a challenge for actors.
“We don’t think about it at all; your imagination kind of fills in the blanks but its just gorgeous to see the finished product,” said Lawless. “It’s not like Avatar, where the whole world is CGI.
“We have really big, practical sets that you can climb up and balconies — it’s really solidly constructed — so it’s not all imagined; not playing everything to a tennis ball on a stick like we used to in the old days.”
No matter how it’s put together, Spartacus seems destined to be Lawless’ third sci-fi success. Starz, the series’ U.S. distributor has already ordered a second season.
It seems that in 2010, audiences are as fascinated by gladiators as ever.
“It satisfies some sort of blood lust we have,” said Lawless of the series’ timeliness.
“(Even) if you took away all the boobs and all the blood and all the special effects, it’s just a thrill ride from start to finish.”