From ‘Xena’ To ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’, Lucy Lawless Says The Time For Female Superheroes Is Now

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You know the name, you know the face and you certainly know the badass female characters she is known for playing. New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless became a cult hero after playing the title role in the popular 90s TV series ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015. She has also played roles in ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Spartacus’ as well as a short-lived comedic role on ‘Parks and Rec’ before it ended.

And true to her kick-ass form, Lucy is back on the screen in the ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ based on the ‘Evil Dead’ movie franchise which is not only filmed in New Zealand again like ‘Xena’, but also reunites her with ‘Xena’ co-star Bruce Campbell who plays Ash Williams in the Starz network series, as well as giving her the chance to work with her husband Rob Tapert who is the executive producer of both the films and the series. Lucy plays the mysterious Ruby, who sometimes spars with, and at other times fights evil demons alongside, the show’s main character.

This show is just the latest in a string of series’ featuring badass female characters as superheroes or anti-heroes. Netflix’s ‘Jessica Jones’, CBS’ ‘Supergirl’ and ABC’s ‘Agent Carter‘ are just a few standout names heralding a long-awaited era of female heroes.

There are plenty of discussions about the need for more of this on the big screen, but it seems as if TV has become a prime platform for diverse and interesting representations of female characters, and it is a trend that we certainly hope has no end in sight.

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In an interview with The Daily Beast about all things ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ as well as the role for which she became an international superstar for, Lucy talks about how the presence of female empowerment and female superheroes on screen is just getting started, and why it is important.

There is a talk of a ‘Xena’ revival which would undoubtedly please many die-hard fans. Lucy is certainly on board with the idea, but doesn’t necessarily think she will be considered for the lead role again.

“I definitely think they should absolutely remake it. The time for female empowerment and self-realization and the triumph of our better instincts over base instincts is not done. Those are universal themes and it was massively successful all over the world and I think the world is still crying out for a hero,” she said.

Interestingly, Lucy recalls how at the time of the show being made, the network didn’t think it would hit big with audiences simply because it featured a woman in the lead role. But of course, not only were they wrong, but all the networks and studios who still think female lead characters don’t “sell” (and many actresses recount how this attitude is very much still alive today) are clearly nor listening to the audience.

“They told us ‘Xena’ wouldn’t work. I remember in France, at whatever international sales thing we were at, they were saying, ‘No, the French will never accept a female!’ And it was like, ‘You’re the country of Joan of Arc! What are you talking about?’ And [the show] was massively successful in France, Germany, Turkey, the Philippines, it was unbelievable,” said Lucy.

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Despite not knowing whether she will be part of the reboot, Lucy is adamant the show must stay true to the essence of what made it such a cult hit, and why fans are still drawn to Xena today.

“It’s a really fervent fan base and it would be easy to let them down. So you’ve got to hold true to the basic tenets of the show, which is about honor and integrity in a dirty world, and not just female empowerment but empowerment of the authentic self, and respect. You can’t, for instance, make it about T&A [“tits and ass”] in ‘Xena’, that would be a deal-breaker I think for the fans. You can’t do what we did with Spartacus, with Xena. That breaks a basic covenant with the fans,” she said.

We love that she wants the reboot to honor what made the original so fantastic, without trying to sell out using objectification as a way to attract a new legion of fans. If they didn’t need it the first time, then T&A is not needed this rime around either!

In another interview with Bust magazine where she talks more about the Starz network series and playing another badass female role, Lucy says the show is “feminist approved” as it “is equal opportunity abuse”. What she means by that is the horror and gore doesn’t discriminate based on gender. It is something of a welcome change that isn’t always shown in genres like this.

Her ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ co-star Jill Marie Jones who plays state trooper Amanda Fisher told The Hollywood Reporter a similar statement about how the show portrays its female characters.

“All the three female main characters on the show are pretty badass. They can hold their own. I’m delighted about seeing these strong female roles and not that the woman is waiting for the guy to save her, but that she can take it on, all on her own, and get the job done,” she said.

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“I’m just so appreciative of you know being able to play in this sandbox because you don’t really often see women roles like that. Just ’cause you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean that person’s not capable. I think hopefully women and girls will see Amanda and see something inside of them that they can relate to,” she added.

Aside from seeing women kick ass alongside the guys, there is the added bonus of seeing the character Ruby work her way through a set of problems and complexities, making the role so much more interesting to watch, especially as there is an aspect of her being a somewhat reluctant hero.

“Ruby’s the thorn in Ash’s side.  She’s gunning for him, and I like to say that she’s like “Jaws.” It’s a bit of a slow build.  By the end of the season you know exactly what she’s about and how much trouble he’s in.  Her name is Ruby Knowby. Back in the original films, Professor Knowby was the holder of the book.  So she’s got a family history and a huge chip on her shoulder and she’s hunting Ash down,” describes Lucy about her on-screen character.

This is what we need to see more of on screen! A variety of female characters who aren’t confined to a particular set of traits or skills. When it starts to become normal to see female superheroes who can hold their own against whatever they are up against while still show a realistic portrayal of human complexity as much is afforded within the genre and the minutes in an episode, the less we can see this as a “trend”.

As for Hollywood’s reluctance to bring more female superheroes to the big screen, watch Lucy talk to Comic Book Resources below at New York Comic Con where she says the reason is because “they’re pussies”:


 

 

 

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  1. Pingback: The Rise Of Feminism In The Superhero Movie Genre - GirlTalkHQ

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