1. Lucille Frances “Lucy” Lawless was born on 29 March 1968.
2. She is a New Zealand actress, activist, and musician best known for playing the title character of the internationally successful television series Xena: Warrior Princess.
3. 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.
4. Lawless had a recurring role on the fifth and sixth season of the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation as Diane Lewis, a single mother who falls for Ron Swanson.
5. In 2015, she had a recurring role as Countess Palatine Ingrid von Marburg on the WGN America series Salem, and appears in the series Ash vs. Evil Dead.
6. 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.
7. 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.”
8. 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.
9. Ryan appeared in her first musical at the age of 10, and began acting in secondary school. She attended Marist College, Auckland. She later said she “used to quite like bulimia”, but was able to overcome the illness.
10. At 18, like many young New Zealanders she went on her “overseas experience”, traveling through Europe and Australia with future husband, Garth Lawless, and at 21 she won the 1989 Mrs New Zealand competition.
11. 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.
12. 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.”
13. 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.)
14. 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 an ash blonde, was dyed 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.
15. 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 Journeysepisode “Outcast,” transmitted in October 1995.) Xena: Warrior Princess, like its parent program, was a hit, lasting six seasons, and Lawless became an international celebrity.
16. 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.
17. 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.”
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Lawless became a ‘lesbian icon’ because of Xena’s ambiguous relationship with traveling companion Gabrielle. This reputation has become cemented after her “graphic lesbian sex scenes” in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Although Lawless is heterosexual, she has appeared at gay pride events such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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).
23. 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.
24. 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).
25. 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.
26. In 2009 Lawless guest-starred in the HBO series, Flight of the Conchords as Paula, assistant to the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
27. 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.
28. 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. From 2012 to 2014, Lawless had a recurring role on the NBC series Parks and Recreation as Diane, the love interest and eventual wife of Ron Swanson. In 2014 she guest starred in Agents of Shield as Isabelle Hartley in the season two premiere, and reprised the role later in episode 15 of season two, ‘One Door Closes.’ In 2015, Lawless landed the recurring guest role of Countess Marburg in WGN America’s Salem. She plays Countess Marburg, one of the last remaining survivors of the legendary line of ancient German witches. In March 2015, it was announced that she would be portraying the role of Ruby in Starz TV series Ash vs. Evil Dead.
29. In May 2009, Lawless became a “climate ambassador” for the Greenpeace “Sign On” campaign.
30. 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.
31. 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 initially 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 (Observations made by New Horizons subsequently found Pluto to be marginally larger than Eris). 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. 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.” 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.
32. Lawless, who has a background in musical theatre, played Betty Rizzo on Broadway in a production of Grease in 1997. Indeed, she continued to sing during the run of Xena, even contributing dirge music of her own composition; this made it into the episode “The Path Not Taken” as the dirge “Burial,” which she sang for the first time in the episode.
33. Lucy was encouraged to pursue a career in singing after being a contestant on Celebrity Duets, which she finished as runner-up to Alfonso Ribeiro. She made her onstage debut at the Roxy in Hollywood on 13 January 2007, with a sold-out crowd for back-to-back concerts.
34. In 1988 at the age of 19, Lucy became pregnant by boyfriend Garth Lawless, while working together in the Australian outback. They married in Kalgoorlie and returned to New Zealand where their daughter was born. They divorced in 1995.
35. On 28 March 1998, Lawless married Robert Tapert. They have two sons.
36. Chosen by “People” magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World.
37. Studied drama at the William Davis Center for Actors Study, under William B. Davis.
38. Lucy suffered a miscarriage immediately following the filming of the last episode of Xena. She considered canceling the appearance she was to make with Xena partner ‘Renée O’Connor (I)’ (Gabrielle) at a fan convention. However, she decided to show up despite the tragic event just a few days earlier and even though Renee was 6 months pregnant with her first baby.
39. Sister-in-law of actress Mary Beth Tapert.
40. Wanted to be an opera singer until she was 16. Then she learned they have a strict diet and can’t stay out all night. After that she changed her mind but still sings. Her vocal range is contralto.
41. Speaks German, French, some Italian.
42. Owns a holiday house at Taupo on the shores of Lake Taupo, New Zealand.
43. Was asked by Peter Jackson to audition for the role of “Galadriel” in “Lord of the Rings”, but declined because her pregnancy would stall production.
44. Is a natural ash blonde before coloring her hair black for the role of “Xena”.
45. She said that her partner at Zina (1995), Renée O’Connor, has been one of the few people who have joined her true friends from youth. As an example, she invited her to her wedding with Rob Tapert. They also act together on conventions stages.
46. She was offered the role of “Ellen Tigh” in Battlestar Galactica (2004), but she refused. That role was played by Kate Vernon and the scriptwriters created another role for her, the evil “D’anna Biers”.
47. Awarded the New Zealand Order Of Merit (NZOM), Queen’s Birthday Honours 2004, for services to NZ entertainment and the community.
48. Member of the Starship Foundation board of trustees since 2000. Starship is NZ’s main children’s hospital.
49. The dwarf planet Eris was originally informally named Xena, with its moon nicknamed Gabrielle (after Xena’s sidekick). The official names, Eris and Dysnomia, refer to Greek goddesses associated with lawlessness, another wink to Lucy Lawless.
50. She began acting in secondary school, performing in her first musical at age 10.