Lawless at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2016
Lucille Frances Ryan
29 March 1968
(m. 1988; div. 1995)
Lucille Frances Lawless née Ryan; born 29 March 1968) is a New Zealand actress and singer. She portrayed the title character in television series Xena: Warrior Princess (1995–2001); cylon model Number Three D'Anna Biers on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series (2005–2009); and Lucretia in the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010), its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (2011), and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance (2012).(
Lawless had recurring roles as Diane Lewis-Swanson on the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation (2012–2015), and as Countess Palatine Ingrid Von Marburg on the WGN America supernatural series Salem (2015). She also starred as Ruby on the Starz horror-comedy series Ash vs Evil Dead (2015–2018).
Lucille Frances "Lucy" Ryan was born in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert to teacher Julie Ryan and Mount Albert's mayor, banker Frank Ryan. She is the fifth of six siblings (four brothers and one sister). She has described her family as "this big, sprawling Irish-Catholic family", and while filming in Ireland for the Discovery Channel in 2004, told Ireland on Sunday that her father's family originated in Quilty, County Clare.
Ryan appeared in her first musical at age 10 and began acting in secondary school. She attended Marist College, Auckland, and began studies at Auckland University in languages. At 18, she went on her "overseas experience", travelling through Europe and Australia with her future husband, Garth Lawless. At 21, she won the 1989 Mrs New Zealand competition.
Her debut on television was 2 1/2 seasons as a cast member in the New Zealand sketch-comedy series Funny Business. After that, she studied drama at the William Davis Centre for Actors Study in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
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."
Xena: Warrior Princess
Lawless received her best-known role when she was asked to play a heroic warrior woman named Xena in the first season of ‘'Hercules'’. She first appeared 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). The character proved to be a fan favorite. 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. She also wore a much darker costume. Lawless returned as Xena in two more episodes of the first season of Hercules, which portrayed her turn from villainess to a good, heroic character.
The character was popular enough that a spin-off series was created: Xena: Warrior Princess debuted on 4 September 1995. Xena: Warrior Princess, like its parent programme, was a huge hit and achieved high ratings and cultural significance, lasting six seasons. The series brought Lawless an immense amount of attention and she became an international celebrity.
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 car park. She made a complete recovery, but several episodes of the second season of Xena were rewritten to focus on background characters to minimise the time Lawless was needed on set.
Xena's ambiguous romantic relationship with travelling companion Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) led to Lawless becoming a lesbian icon, a role of which she has said she's proud. She has said that during the years she was playing the role, she had been undecided on the nature of the relationship, but in a 2003 interview with Lesbian News magazine, she said that after viewing the series finale, she had come to see Xena and Gabrielle's relationship as definitely gay, adding "they're married, man." This reputation became cemented after her "graphic lesbian sex scenes" in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. She has appeared at gay pride events such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
For her strong support of LGBT rights, including her public support for same-sex marriage, in 2017 Lawless was given the Star 100–Ally of the Year award at the Australian LGBTI Awards ceremony.
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.
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).
Lawless has also performed as a voice actor in several animated features: In 2008, Lawless voiced the animated character of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the direct-to-video superhero animated film, Justice League: The New Frontier, adapted from the DC Comics limited series. In 2014, Lawless voiced the militaristic "Queen of the Ants" in the American animated television series Adventure Time on the Cartoon Network.
In 2007, 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. The series did not continue past the pilot episode, but the network extended the options on its contracts with Lawless and the other actors slated to star in the series, including Gabrielle Union, Kiele Sanchez, Ving Rhames, and James Van Der Beek.
Lawless returned to television on 10 November 2008 in a guest-starring role on the CBS television series CSI: Miami, in a Season 7 episode, "Cheating Death", playing a madam with connections to a murder and helping Horatio "H" Caine with his inquiries.
In 2009, Lawless appeared in two episodes of the final season of The L Word as Sergeant Marybeth Duffy. She played 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. In 2009, Lawless guest-starred in the HBO series Flight of the Conchords as Paula, assistant to the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
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.
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 2015, 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 Palatine Ingrid Von 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 horror-comedy series Ash vs Evil Dead. The series ended in 2018.
Lawless, who has a background in musical theatre, played Betty Rizzo on Broadway in a production of Grease in 1997. 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. Two musically-oriented episodes, "The Bitter Suite" and "Lyre, Lyre, Heart's on Fire," also showcased not only her singing but also that of some of her castmates. (See also List of Xena: Warrior Princess episodes for details.)
Lucy was encouraged to pursue a singing career 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, a venue of 500 seats, on 13 January 2007, with a sold-out crowd for back-to-back concerts.
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. It is set up to provide additional equipment, support and help to staff, patients and families. She devotes much time and energy to fundraising for the organisation. She recently sat for the New Zealand television series The Sitting, an arts series where celebrity portraits are produced during an interview session, with the portraits later auctioned for charity.
Lawless attended the auction where her portrait fetched the top price, with the whole event raising $39,000 for Starship. Lawless has often raised money for concerts and events, donates part of her salary in favour of the institution, and has sold some Xena costumes to contribute funds. In mid February 2012, Lawless sang at New Zealander of the Year donating her appearance fee to the Starship Foundation.
Since 2006, 21 September marks "Lucy Lawless Feel the Love Day/Week." The day, organised by the Official Lucy Lawless Fan Club, begins a week of charitable acts and donations by fans in honour and support of Lawless.
In February 2012, Lawless and six other Greenpeace activists boarded an oil drilling ship at Port Taranaki, New Zealand, and remained on it for 77 hours to stop it leaving for the Arctic where it was going to take part in oil exploration. She was subsequently arrested and charged with burglary, which carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years if convicted. She pleaded guilty on 14 June 2012 to trespass charges regarding the February incident. Lawless said she intends for now to remain involved with Greenpeace. In February 2013, Lawless and the other six activists were each sentenced to pay a fine of NZ$651 (about US$547) and 120 hours of community service. The judge denied the $545,000 in reparations that Shell Todd Oil Services had sought from the activists. Following the sentencing, Lawless said: "I consider it a great victory that the court has struck down the reparation demand from Shell, which I think was absolutely ludicrous."
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 the object, which was ultimately named 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.
In 1988, 19-year-old Ryan became pregnant by her boyfriend Garth Lawless while working with him in the Australian outback. They married in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia that year, then returned to New Zealand, where their daughter was born. They divorced in 1995.
On 28 March 1998, Lawless married Xena's executive producer, Pacific Renaissance Pictures CEO Robert G. "Rob" Tapert.
|1990||Within the Law||Verity|
|1990||A Bitter Song||Nurse 1||Short film|
|1991||The End of the Golden Weather||Joe's Girl|
|1997||Hercules & Xena: Wizards of the Screen||Xena||Short film|
|1998||Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie||Xena|
|2000||Ginger Snaps||Announcer on School's PA System||Uncredited|
|2002||Spider-Man||Punk Rock Girl|
|2008||Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight||Goldmoon|
|2008||Justice League: The New Frontier||Wonder Woman||Voice role|
|2009||Bitch Slap||Mother Superior|
|2010||Lez Chat||Construction Worker||Short film|
|2021||Minions: The Rise of Gru||Nunchuck||Voice role|
|1989||Funny Business||Various||Unknown episodes|
|1990||Shark in the Park||Kim Hughes||Episode: "Double or Quits"|
|1991||For the Love of Mike||Helen||Episode: "1.6"|
|1992||The Ray Bradbury Theater||Liddy Barton||Episode: "Fee Fie Foe Fum"|
|1993||The New Adventures of the Black Stallion||Sarah McFee||Episode: "Riding the Volcano"|
|1993||The Rainbow Warrior||Jane Redmond||Television movie|
|1993||Typhon's People||Mink Tertius||Television movie|
|1994||High Tide||Undercover policewoman||Episode: "Shanghied"|
|1994||Hercules and the Amazon Women||Lysia||Television movie|
|1995||High Tide||Sharon List||Episode: "Dead in the Water"|
|1995–1998||Hercules: The Legendary Journeys||Lyla||2 episodes|
|1995||Hercules: The Legendary Journeys||Xena||Recurring role, 6 episodes|
|1995–2001||Xena: Warrior Princess||Lead role|
|1998||Saturday Night Live||Herself/Host/Various||Episode: "Lucy Lawless/Elliott Smith"|
|1999||The Simpsons||Herself/Xena||Episode: "Treehouse of Horror X"|
|2000||Celebrity Deathmatch||Herself||Episode: "The Return of Lucy Lawless"|
|2001||Just Shoot Me!||Stacy||Episode: "The Auction"|
|2001||The X-Files||Shannon McMahon||2 episodes|
|2003||Tarzan||Kathleen Clayton||Recurring role, 7 episodes|
|2003||Warrior Women with Lucy Lawless||Herself||5 episodes|
|2004||Less than Perfect||Tracy Fletcher||Episode: "Ignoring Lydia"|
|2005||Two and a Half Men||Pamela||Episode: "It Was 'Mame', Mom"|
|2005||Locusts||Maddy Rierdon||Television movie|
|2005||Vampire Bats||Maddy Rierdon||Television movie|
|2005–2009||Battlestar Galactica||D'Anna Biers||Recurring role, 16 episodes|
|2006||Veronica Mars||Agent Morris||Episode: "Donut Run"|
|2007||Burn Notice||Evelyn||Episode: "False Flag"|
|2007||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Herself||Episode: "The TiVo Guy"|
|2007||Football Wives||Tanya Austin||Unsold TV pilot|
|2008||CSI: Miami||Audrey Yates||Episode: "Cheating Death"|
|2009||The L Word||Sgt. Marybeth Duffy||2 episodes|
|2009||Flight of the Conchords||Paula||Episode: "New Zealand Town"|
|2009||Angel of Death||Vera||Episode: "Help"|
|2010||Spartacus: Blood and Sand||Lucretia||Main role, 13 episodes|
|2011||Spartacus: Gods of the Arena||Main role, 6 episodes|
|2011||American Dad!||Stacy||Episode: "A Piñata Named Desire"|
|2011||No Ordinary Family||Helen Burton||4 episodes|
|2012||Spartacus: Vengeance||Lucretia||Main role, 10 episodes|
|2012–2014||Parks and Recreation||Diane Lewis||Recurring role, 10 episodes|
|2013||Top of the Lake||Caroline Platt||2 episodes|
|2014–2015||Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.||Isabelle Hartley||2 episodes|
|2014||The Code||Alex Wisham||Recurring role (season 1), 6 episodes|
|2014||Adventure Time||General Tarsal||Voice role; episode: "Dentist"|
|2015–2017||Salem||Countess Marburg||Recurring role, 15 episodes|
|2015–2018||Ash vs. Evil Dead||Ruby Knowby||Main role|
|2016||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||Hiidrala||Voice role; episode: "The Cosmic Ocean"|
|2017||The Changeover||Miryam Carlisle||Television movie (Sci Fi New Zealand)|
|2019–present||My Life is Murder||Alexa Crowe||Main role|
|2020||Star Wars Resistance||Aeosian Queen||2 episodes|
|2020||Big City Greens||Mimi O'Malley||Voice role; episode: "Cricket's Tickets"|
- Hunted: The Demon's Forge (2011), as Seraphine
- 1997: Grease! - On Broadway, NY USA
- 2002: The Vagina Monologues - Auckland, NZ
- 2005: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Seattle, USA
- 2011: BARE For Christchurch - Auckland, NZ
- 2013: Chicago The Musical - Hollywood Bowl, LA, USA
- 2013: Chicago The Musical - Auckland, NZ
- 2014–2015: Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight - Pasadena, CA, USA
- 2017: Pleasuredome The Musical - Auckland, NZ
- Come 2 Me
- Come To Mama: Lucy Lawless in Concert: The Roxy Theater in Hollywood
- Concert DVDs
- Come To Mama: Lucy Lawless in Concert: The Roxy Theater in Hollywood
- Gimme Some, Sugar: Lawless, NYC
- Lucy Lawless Live in Chicago: Still Got The Blues
- Lucy Lawless Live at The Roxy Theater: Ho Down
- Lucy Lawless Live in Concert: Welcome to the Pleasuredome
- Other songs
- "Little Child" on Unexpected Dreams – Songs From the Stars
- "4 All of Us" with Pauly Fuemana (OMC)
- "Little Child" on The Starship Christmas Album 2012 – Starship Foundation
Awards and nominations
This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. (August 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|1997||Saturn Award||Best Genre TV Actress||Xena: Warrior Princess||Nominated|
|2010||Golden Nymph||Outstanding Actress – Drama Series||Spartacus: Blood and Sand||Nominated|
|2010||Saturn Award||Best Supporting Actress on Television||Spartacus: Blood and Sand||Won|
|2016||Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Supporting Actress on Television||Salem||Nominated|
- "Lucy Lawless Film Reference biography". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "ESSENTIAL LUCY". Lucy Lawless. AUSXIP. 2 April 2012.
- Gaffney, Siobhan (2004). "Grainne Mhaol". Ireland on Sunday.
- "Biography". NZ On Screen.
- "Lucy Lawless On Her Family Crisis, Her Precious Children and Celebrity Life in LA". The Australian Women's Weekly. May 2006. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
- "Lucy Lawless, Mrs New Zealand 1989". Te Ara.
- "Lawless Bulimic No More". People. 17 May 1999. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
- "60 SECONDS: Lucy Lawless". Metro.co.uk. 29 May 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- "Lucy Lawless on the "Xena" revival, her new show and seizing life with both hands". Women in the World in Association with The New York Times - WITW. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
- Kaplan, Don (17 February 1999). "XENA LIKES BEING A LESBIAN ICON". New York Post. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
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- "AUSXIP Lucy Lawless | Lesbian News 2003". Lucylawless.net. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
- "An interview with Lucy Lawless - AfterEllen". AfterEllen. 7 January 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
- McCroy, Winnie (22 June 2011). "Girl on girl action becomes passé". Villagevoice.com. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Lucy Lawless and lesbians bring the sexy to the "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" trailer. AfterEllen.com". Archive.is. 27 July 2009. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Lucy and Renee in Sydney in 1999 – Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras". Ausxip.com. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Lucy Lawless goes glamorous for LGBT rights in San Francisco - AfterEllen". AfterEllen. 16 July 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
- Staff, AOL. "'Xena: Warrior Princess' star Lucy Lawless looks totally different now -- see the stunning pics!". AOL.com. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
- "Star100 - Ally of the Year". AUSTRALIAN LGBT AWARDS. Archived from the original on 20 May 2017. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
- "Lucy Lawless - Rizzo - Grease - Pics Scans Images". Lucylawless.info. 8 August 2004. Archived from the original on 8 August 2004. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
- "Inside TV Podcast: Lucy Lawless and Liam McIntyre". Ew.com. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
- "Lynda Carter and Beyond: The Celebs Who Have Played Wonder Woman". People. 1 June 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
- "'Adventure Time' video: Lucy Lawless as the Ant Queen!". Ew.com. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
- ABC's 'Football Wives' Still Alive Archived 25 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine, zap2it.com, 28 June 2007.
- "Football" still in ABC's game, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 June 2007
- Simon, Jane (10 August 2009). "CSI: Miami - Five, 9pm". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
- "Lucy Lawless - NZ On Screen". Nzonscreen.com. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
- Hustvedt, Marc (21 October 2008). "Behind the Scenes with Crackle's 'Angel of Death' Zoe Bell". Tubefilter News. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
- ""EVIL DEAD" Series Adds Lucy Lawless; Becomes Full-Fledged Raimi Reunion". FANGORIA®.
- "Bruce Campbell: Lucy Lawless joining Ash Vs. Evil Dead". Blastr.
- "Lucy Lawless Joins Ash vs. Evil Dead". Dread Central.
- Abrams, Natalie (21 July 2014). "Exclusive: Lucy Lawless Heading to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." TVGuide.com.
- "Declassifying 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.': One Door Closes - News - Marvel.com". marvel.com.
- Petski, Denise. "[WATCH] Salem Season 2 Teaser – - Deadline". Deadline.
- "Bruce Campbell's Ash returns to fight 'Evil Dead'". USA TODAY. 29 October 2015.
- ""Ash vs Evil Dead" Casts Lucy Lawless as Ash Hunter!". bloody-disgusting.com.
- "AUSXIP Lucy Lawless Grease! Lucy Lawless on Broadway". Lucylawless.info. 28 September 1997. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- Butler, Brendan (14 January 2007). "Lucy Lawless: Goodbye Warrior Princess, Hello Rock Star". Cinema Bend. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- "Board of Trustees". starship.org.nz.
- "Home". Starship.org.nz. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- on YouTube
- "Lucy Lawless Feel The Love Week - Doing Charitable Acts in Honour of Lucy Lawless". Lucy Lawless site. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
- "Feel the Love 2013". Official Lucy Lawless Fan Club. 20 October 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
- "Sign On". Greenpeace New Zealand. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- "Lucy Lawless boards oil drilling ship". 3news.co.nz. February 2012.
- "Lawless charged with burglary after ship protest". Television New Zealand. 27 February 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
- Perry, Nick (14 June 2012). "Actress Lucy Lawless Pleads Guilty to Trespass". ABC News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 15 June 2012.
- "Lucy Lawless sentenced, and the warrior princess is thrilled". Los Angeles Times. 7 February 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- O'Neill, Sean (8 August 2005). "Your top 10 names for the tenth planet". New Scientist. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Messages from Lucy". Lucylawlessfanclub.com. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Tytell, David (14 September 2006). "SkyandTelescope.com – Homepage News – All Hail Eris and Dysnomia". Skytonight.com. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Schneider, Karen S. (8 April 1996). "Xena-Phile". People.
- "Mosley". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- "Cast and Crew". Pleasuredome. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- "Queen's Birthday honours list 2004". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 7 June 2004. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
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