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Lucy Lawless: To Fans, 'I'm A Really Cute Walking Dinosaur'

Lucy Lawless stars as retired detective Alexa Crowe in <em>My Life is Murder.</em>
Acorn TV
Lucy Lawless stars as retired detective Alexa Crowe in My Life is Murder.

There's a provocative exchange at the beginning of the first episode of My Life is Murder: A woman scrolls through images of glistening pecs and washboard abs while chatting on the phone. "I guarantee you, Alexa," says the voice on the other end, "this will be better than any boyfriend you have ever had." "Well, that sounds fabulous. And expensive," she replies.

What she's really doing here, of course, is trying to uncover clues so she can solve a crime. Lucy Lawless stars in My Life is Murder as Alexa Crowe, a retired detective called back into police work as a consultant on some of the most baffling murders in Victoria, Australia. It debuts August 5 on Acorn TV.

Interview Highlights

On Alexa's use of physical force to complement her wits

I was — to be honest with you — I was a bit chagrined by that because that was never my favorite part of the job ... it hurts! No, I always hated it, but I didn't have any choice. So you know, if you don't have a choice about something, you really oughtn't to invest in it emotionally — so I just get it over and done with. But it's always a shock when they say I have to roll out of the way of a car, you know. I say, "Over to you stuntwoman," That's how it's done. But there is some amount of selling before and immediately after — so, it doesn't get easier with every passing decade.

On Alexa's past and exploring her world

She is widowed. Her husband was also a detective, and died in the line of duty. And we explore that loss in a slightly lighthearted way when we go into the world of the undertaker, because every episode we try to take you into another sector of life. You know, some party you've never been invited to, so it might be the world of the very beautiful people in PR and models, where you get to see the ugly underpinnings of that business. And there are themes which then are reflected back on Alexa Crowe herself. So, we're going to lift the veil a little bit, and have some fun and pursue justice in those worlds. And it's really satisfying ... the verisimilitude of justice when you spend an hour with people that you like on television, in a very beautiful vibrant environment, and get this lovely sense of catching the bad guy. To me it's a little bit of a chance to recoup, because the news is a bit grim these days, and it's just nice to have a little bit of a, like a psychic break.

On the impression that her famous character Xena, Warrior Princess still leaves all over the world.

Well, I'm really delighted because people are so kind to me. I think I've been around long enough that everybody knows me from something, and it's like I'm a really cute walking dinosaur, or something. You know, they're really nice to me, they're not afraid of me, they're not cold to me. I don't know. I think I must have some camp lustre about me that makes me — people feel friendly towards me, and I'm really gratified and delighted by that.

On what she still enjoys about working after all these years

Oh my God, everything, I love it. What's beautiful about television is that you have a very long list of tasks of the day. So all day long you're just checking them off. So it's really satisfying, and you're problem solving in order to make the day, getting it all done, on time, in as joyful, collegial way as possible. That's that's a really satisfying day's work, you know, and hopefully make something that people like. But even if they don't like it, well, you're already paid and you already had a good time so that's that. It kind of, it's incidental to me whether it's a success or not.

This story was produced for radio by Melissa Gray and Monika Evstatieva, and adapted for the Web by Petra Mayer

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.