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Exclusive: Lucy Lawless & Renee O'Connor Talk My Life is Murder Reunion, Xena Reboot, & More

Lucy Lawless & Renee O'ConnorMy Life is Murder stars Lucy Lawless as retired detective Alexa Crowe, who returns to New Zealand in season two. She is joined by tech genius, Madison Feliciano (Ebony Vagulans), as she works to solve mysterious murder cases given to her by Detective Harry Hanare (Rawiri Jobe).

In the season finale, streaming tomorrow on Acorn TV, when a self-help guru is killed, Alexa and Madison go undercover and find themselves pitted against the victim’s wife, Clarissa Klein, played by Renee O’Connor.

The episode serves as a reunion of sorts that Xena: Warrior Princess fans have been waiting for, reconnecting Lawless, who played the iconic starring role on the fantasy series that gained a cult following, and O’Connor, who played the role of Gabrielle.

The two actresses recently talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview on Zoom about reuniting for the series, where Lawless teased about O’Connor’s role as the cult leader saying that she could be the bad guy or “the good guy in disguise.”

O’Connor jumped at the chance to reunite for the series, which returned for the second season to New Zealand because of COVID; it was a happy surprise. “[Lucy] sort of mentioned it. Honestly, I didn't think that it was anything that would be truly possible, to pick up and just go to New Zealand. Then, when the quarantine came up…it just seemed highly unlikely, but Lucy's company, a few of the people there, just didn't give up. They just kept trying to figure out how it could possibly happen, and the next thing I knew, I was flying to New Zealand.”

Lucy Lawless & Renee O'ConnorThe actress was joined by her real-life son, Miles, who played her son on the series.

According to Lawless, it was just like old times together on Xena. “It was no different. It was like no time had passed. That was the uncanny thing. I was so happy knowing that I could get up and just work with Ren every day…that just made it so much easier to get out of bed at four in the morning.”

The episode also brought them back together with the episode’s director, Michael Hurst, from their Xena days, who Lawless called a “powerhouse and a national treasure,” as well as Mark Beesley, who serves of as a major producer on My Life is Murder.

The two also said, that if there is a reboot for Xena, they’d love to take part. “If they asked us to be part of a reboot, we would definitely be open to discussions, let’s put it that way,” said Lawless.

For more from the two, be sure to check out the full transcript below, where they talked about everything from their acting processes, to having their own action figures, and more, and watch the season finale of My Life is Murder on Acorn TV tomorrow.

SCIFI VISION:   For Lucy, how do you think you would be is a detective, are you good at puzzles and things like that? And then for you Renee, would you make a good wellness guru?

LUCY LAWLESS:   I don't think I'd make a good detective actually. I don't think so.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  Honestly, I would never want to be a guru like this crazy woman that I fortunately was able to play, but I definitely like to give people environments where they can grow and feel nurtured and discover more about their own self, but not in this way that they wrote on the show. [laughs]

SCIFI VISION:   Can you talk a bit about kind of why the show moved to New Zealand, I mean, I know obviously, it was good for you, Lucy, because you got to come home, but I was just curious how that happened?

LUCY LAWLESS:   COVID. It hit so badly in Melbourne where we first shot the first series, that I was like, “Wanna come to my hometown?” They were like, “Yes, please.” So, we joined up with a new production company in New Zealand, and they have been phenomenal, and they were the ones who moved Heaven and Earth to get Ren down, which was, you know, magic, for our finale.

SCIFI VISION:   Yeah, I was going to ask, did that make it even better for you, Renee, getting to come back to New Zealand after being gone? I mean, maybe you already visit often, though, I don't know.

RENEE O’CONNOR…No, I had not been down there in a good length of time, and especially with this crazy pandemic. It wasn't in my foreseeable future. My son was going down to study in this professional acting program, but I didn't think I would be seeing him at all for at least a year.

LUCY LAWLESS:   [It was] so perfect.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  So, to have the opportunity to go, I couldn't believe it. Honestly, it was the farthest thing from my mind to think that that would be possible, but I did; I went in, thank you, Luce and Mark [Beesley].

LUCY LAWLESS:   And Miles played Rene's son, which was fantastic, because both characters, her family, all have American accents. So, to have Miles, this fresh, great young actor with a perfect American accent, magic!...Because I knew him as a little, little boy, it was so wonderful to have him on set and just to help be his first set experience.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  It couldn't have been more perfect.

LUCY LAWLESS:   It couldn't have been. It was a blessed event.

SCIFI VISION:   So, was this something that was kind of in the works for a long time, her coming down to be on the show? Can kind of talk about how that came to be?

RENEE O’CONNOR:  Well you know, it's funny, because Lucy called me. It was 2019 and then also in 2020, but we were just chatting, and she sort of mentioned it, but I honestly, again, I didn't think that it was anything that would be truly possible, to pick up and just go to New Zealand. Then, when the quarantine came up, there really wasn't a place for me, because there was not a priority to bring actresses over at the time. So, it just seemed highly unlikely, but Lucy's company, a few of the people there, just didn't give up. They just kept trying to figure out how it could possibly happen, and the next thing I knew, I was flying to New Zealand, and, you know, hoping I could like, take the sheets over the the side of the balcony through quarantine when Lucy was filming down the street, but I thought that they might make me stay a little bit longer. So, I refrained. [laughs]

LUCY LAWLESS:   [laughs] Yeah, she suffered. She suffered a full two weeks in a hotel room. Terrible.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  [laughs] It wasn't that bad. It really wasn't that bad at all, knowing where I was going, and I was in New Zealand -

LUCY LAWLESS:   You were psychologically prepared.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  I was ready.

SCIFI VISION:   So, coming back together, was it easy slipping back into working again? Did it feel like old times? Was it a lot different because so much time it passed?

LUCY LAWLESS:   It was no different. It was like no time had passed. That was the uncanny thing. I was so happy knowing that I could get up and just kind of work with Ren every day, because I’m very burnt out by the end of the season, always, and that just made it so much easier to get out of bed at four in the morning.

Lucy Lawless & Renee O'ConnorRENEE O’CONNOR:  And I just thought it was just even better. This was a well-oiled machine that Lucy was leading every single day through every every scene through every episode. So, I was very fortunate just to step in and be a part of it and just have fun with Lucy. She definitely carried the weight of all of it, so it was a completely different experience than on Xena, because it was just like a little few moments of time with her. You know, you were working hard.

SCIFI VISION:   [laughs] It probably wasn't quite as strenuous, though, as working on Xena, I would think.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Amen to that!

SCIFI VISION:   I take it that's a good thing, then.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Great thing!

SCIFI VISION:   I remember at the TCA panel you were saying you didn't really like a lot of the stunts and [action] stuff.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Renee did, though; Renee loved it.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  I loved it, but I definitely can't see myself doing that now, [laughs] but I did love it at the time.

SCIFI VISION:   So, a fan asked me, they said that you both had kind of really different acting processes back then to get ready for scenes. Are you still kind of similar? Have you changed a lot since then?

LUCY LAWLESS:   I still do the same sort of things, but because it's a modern show, it's just a lot less effort. I don't know, just the idiom, the the way you use your body and everything, is much less effort obviously than jumping on horses and talking to centaurs and all that. [laughs] That takes a certain kind of effort.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  Yeah, yeah, you can't jump outside the box too much, whereas on this one, you know, Lucy is so comfortable, because this is her show that she knew when she could improvise to enhance the scenes and maybe elicit different reactions, and so that was really exciting, because I didn't really know what she was gonna say. You know, it was definitely not all scripted. It was so much more fun than what we needed to do on Xena, which is to make a huge day possible. We couldn't really veer off and goof off at all. It was just all about [having to] fulfill this workload. You know what I mean? Make sure that it was all captured in a short amount of time each and every day.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Yeah.

SCIFI VISION:   And that was another thing I was going to ask about, improvisation, if a lot of it or any of it is improvised? Is there anything that you can think of Lucy that maybe was added to the show, even if it's just like a line? Just something that sticks out that maybe wasn't originally intended that you can think of?

LUCY LAWLESS:   Yeah, I mean, every day I adlib, but Renee’s right. There're times when you don't, because it can throw [people]. If an actor's tense, it can throw them, or if a director's tense it can throw them. I don't know, anytime I say, “Huzzah!” or flap bread around like a massive sausage, that's just me being a fool. Nobody makes bread that way.

SCIFI VISION:   I don't know. I don't make bread, so you could do just about anything, and I'd fall for it!

LUCY LAWLESS:   Yeah, well that's what I was counting on!

RENEE O’CONNOR:  The set was so charming and so inviting, the one that Lucy created. It just really did feel like you were hanging out in somebody's living room. You know, when the cat came out? What's his name the season again? It’s a different cat.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Well, its real name is Zeplyn. I can't remember what we call him on the [show].

RENEE O’CONNOR:  It's not Chowder? It's not Chowder this year?

LUCY LAWLESS:   Oh, it’s Chowder. Yeah.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  It is Chowder this year, okay.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Named after my cat, my own cat, who bloody went and lived with the neighbors, so annoying! [laughs]

RENEE O’CONNOR:  But it's just so fun, you know? Like, there was the time where Chowder had his closeup, and everybody's just sort of having a cup of tea and relaxing, again efficient at getting their job done, but it was so nice and relaxing and refreshing.

LUCY LAWLESS:   And we have Ebony Vagulans as Madison, which just completes that family feeling. That's what the show is a little bit of a hangout time with these really nice people, who none of them have got some dark side or dark secret they're hiding. They're good men; they're not threatened by these two powerful women. It's an utterly modern, urban show.

SCIFI VISION:   Awesome. Now I know for this episode, and I guess, it looks like the episode before that, you got to work again with Michael Hurst. So, I assume that kind of added to that, bringing that family back together. What was that like working with him again?

RENEE O’CONNOR:  Delightful.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Fab.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  He is so enthusiastic. Honestly, there are times where, if I'm working on another project, I just remember how optimistic and enthusiastic he is towards capturing the day. That helps inspire me to move beyond what seems impossible.

LUCY LAWLESS:   That man has so much love. He has so much love for life and art and expression and sharing, and he's never says as a bad thing about anyone. The guy is just a powerhouse and a national treasure. And also, we have another alumni from the Xena days, and that is Mark Beesley, who's one of our major producers.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  He's amazing. Honestly, Lucy, I'm so pleased that y'all are working together.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Yeah, so we're all really tight.

SCIFI VISION:   Well, I guess, next I have to ask, and this is kind of the obvious question, but if there is a reboot of Xena, are you going to be part of it? Or has there been any more discussion on that or anything you can say at all?

LUCY LAWLESS:   I think all we can say, and Ren, I'm sure I speak for you, if they asked us to be part of a reboot, we would definitely be open to discussions, let’s put it that way.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  Yeah, I'd be very curious.

LUCY LAWLESS:   We’d love it. We’d love it.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  Yeah.

SCIFI VISION:   And I just want to ask you, this is kind of an odd question, but I was thinking about it, and made me wonder, what was it like the first time that you saw that there were dolls and action figures and everything of you? I mean, that's got to be, I don't know, a head trip, but also kind of creepy, maybe? [laughs]

Lucy Lawless & Renee O'ConnorLUCY LAWLESS:   A little bit insulting. You're like, “Ooh, she's got a neck like He-Man!” [laughs]

RENEE O’CONNOR:  [laughs] You know, what's really funny is I was just directing this musical (Beauty and the Beast). I just finished it, but throughout the course of directing a musical through a pandemic, there were so many low moments where I wanted to encourage the cast, and so I started this bizarre little situation where when people went outside the box and performed exceptionally well, anyone from the creative team could put their name in this raffle. So, at the very end, on opening night, I pulled the name out of a raffle, and they didn't know it, but one of the things I put in this basket was a Gabrielle doll. [laughs] And no one has ever seen anything like it, but they just thought it was hilarious, and, truly, it was our most testosterone charged, lovely, cuddly man who played Gaston who was just completely beside himself laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of his director saying, “Hey, thanks for your good work.” It was completely random, but I'm glad I had that stored away in my garage somewhere. So, it went to good use.

LUCY LAWLESS:   [laughs] That’s cool.

SCIFI VISION:   For my last question, for those who haven’t seen the episode yet, can you tease a bit about the episode and Renee’s character?

LUCY LAWLESS:   Renee comes and plays my most terrifying friend yet, but is she really a bad guy, or she a good guy in disguise?

RENEE O’CONNOR:  We don't know.

LUCY LAWLESS:   Is she a friend I just haven't met yet?

RENEE O’CONNOR:  [laughs] All I know is what they gave me. Yeah, she's pretty terrifying. I have to say. In a wonderful way.

LUCY LAWLESS:   She's just your average cuddly-wuddly cult leader.

RENEE O’CONNOR:  Yeah, you know, that everybody should avoid -

LUCY LAWLESS:   Embrace. [laughs]

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