Lucy Lawless Promises a Butt-Kicking Turn in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
After the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the second half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season, Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team are effectively operating as outlaws, trying to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. and quash Hydra at the same time. Enter Lawless' Agent Isabelle "Izzy" Hartley, a woman Lawless says is "no shrinking violet."More than 19 years ago Lucy Lawlessburst onto the TV scene with Xena: Warrior Princess, earning legions of fans as the butt-kicking title hero known for that infamous war cry and her relationship with her companion—and soulmate— Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor). Now Lawless is stepping into a whole new world, one made up of equally devoted fans with a gig on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I don't know if you remember this, but I interviewed you a few years ago and afterward you sent me a package, including a chakram, which is still proudly on display in my apartment.
Oh my god, I must have loved you! [Laughs.]
It meant so much to me! You sent me a chakram, an animation cell and a nice note. I'm so excited to get the chance to talk to you again.
You must have written something so terrific…
It was for Spartacus.
I've only done that for a few people. At the end, you must have been so good to us. Thank you very much, I'm glad you told me that.
No, thank you. It meant to much to me. So, what appealed to you about Agent Hartley?
Well, I want to be part of the Marvel world. I've never done that and it is really a great nod to my fans from the Comic-Con world and also I have been doing a lot of other quite heavy stuff and it was a chance to slip back into a world that is such a comfortable, no-brainer for me. It was like taking a lovely warm bath.
How does the big Hydra twist affect your character?
It affects Coulson in that he now has to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. because Hydra has just grown so enormous and has infiltrated and smashed his organization. It's a case of "Who are you going to call?" and he calls the one person the world he knows who will not betray him and that's Isabelle Hartley. She brings her team and she's got this hotyoung assistant played by Nick Blood who's a lot of fun. Have you interviewed him?
He's pretty bloody fantastic and I think everybody who likes great characters and great actors—and good-looking ones at that—are going to be every happy this season.
Is it safe to assume since it's you and it's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that you will be doing some butt kicking.
Yeah! But don't worry, Hydra gives back, so I'm not going to come away completely unscathed, but S.H.I.E.L.D.'s adaptable and we always fight back.
You mentioned you wanted to join the Marvel universe. Was it intimidating at all? It's so expansive and you're no strange to rabid fans, but…
No, like I said it was like a lovely warm bath. [Laughs.] You know, smashing Hydra, it's like mother's milk to me, you know? In fact, on Hercules and the Amazon Women, my first American job ever, I think we were dealing with Hydra then.
Right, right. You have a lot of experience with Hydra.
A lot of experience with Hydra. That's why Coulson knows he can trust me!
Do you have a favorite superhero?
[Pause] No, I love them all. Don't get me in a fight Christoph, I'll come and take that bloody chakram back! [Laughs.]
You'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands!
What is it that you think fans should know about your guest appearance before they see it?
Hey, you can't call it that. You don't know that.
My premiere. What should they know before? Trick question. Next question, I'll figure that out.
A different topic: Will you be returning to say goodbye to Parks and Recreationthis year?
They're always asking me to and I've been working Down Under, so if I can get back there in time, then yes. I love them so much. It's such a cute relationship and I'd love to put a button on that, but it's about getting back in time!
You mentioned your work Down Under. I know you have The Code coming out and we'll see that on DirecTV here in the States.
Yeah, it's a political thriller. That was a very heavy and interesting experience. Culturally, there's a lot of stuff going on that overseas audiences won't understand about Aboriginality and the law, all sorts of things going on there. I've also been writing Down Under, so to go into Marvel was like going back to my roots. It was a huge relief and gave me a new attitude.
You said The Code is a little heavier and Marvel is what you're used to. Do you prefer one to the other?
Oh no, I love it all. It's texture. And I think what people can count on—to go back to your earlier question—what people can count on is that Isabelle Hartley is no shrinking violet. She's there to kick ass. It's what she does.
Xena recently celebrated its 19th birthday. In your opinion, what is the show's greatest legacy?
Oh, it's incredible fanbase who is a force for good in the world. It's a very loose sorority, although there are a lot of men in that, who are agents for positive change in their communities. They get together—they do amazing things. They raise a lot of money for charities and animals—just service, service to the world. I don't know anybody else who has a fanbase quite like that. I'm sure they do exist, but I really honor them.
Another random Xena question because it happens to me sometimes: Do the songs from the musical ever pop into your head?
From which musical?
"The Bitter Suite," the first Xena musical.
Yes, occasionally! [Laughs.]
There are times where I just wake up and a song is stuck in my head.
Do you really?!
Yeah, I'm like, "What is going on in my dreams?"
Oh my god! [Laughs.] That's so funny. I often think about—not from the musical, actually but [singing] "Joxer the mighty, Gabby as his sidekick…writing wrongs and singing songs." That always occurs to me, just kind of jaunty, silly activist mentality, I suppose, that appeals to me.
Joxer was a part of my first Internet screenname, that's how big a fan I am.
Oh my goodness! How old are you?
Oh you're a baby.
Going back to S.H.I.E.L.D., I just saw Ming-Na Wen tweet about the show. Did you guys compare notes because she kicks so much butt in that show.
Yeah, yeah. She's gorgeous. Did we compare notes? No, we talked about all manner of other things because you can get into a good intellectual conversation with Ming-Na. There was no shortage of conversation on set. Compare notes? No, we didn't have to. That stuff is just inherent in the job.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. on ABC.