Whoosh! Issue 24 - September 1998

Exclusive to Whoosh!
By Angela Lesa Wheaton
Copyright © 1998 held by author
3388 words

Author's Note: Due to Jay Laga'aia's very busy schedule, the interview was done by e-mail between November 9, 1997 through March 19, 1998. Jay liked the idea of the fans writing to me with questions for him to answer. I posted a letter to the Xena NetForum and Mailing Lists asking for fellow fans to send me questions. Not all the questions were answered and some of the questions were answered twice due to a mix-up with the e-mail. The picture of Jay as himself came from The Kiwi Lounge.

"Surfin' Laga'aia..." (01-04)
Water Rats (05-10)
Xena and Herc Tidbits (11-15)
Fan Inquiries (16-40)
Mardi Gras Parade and Other Tidbits (41-43)

An Interview With Jay Laga'aia

"Surfin' Laga'aia..."

[1] I met Jay Laga'aia through e-mail when he sent me the following message:

"Hi Angela. I was having a quiet surf on the net when I came across your page, and I must admit that it [was] great reading. My name is Jay Laga'aia, better known to you probably as Draco."

First rule of warlord love: string up the competition

A scene from XWP's COMEDY OF EROS. All's fair in love and war.
[2] Jay did indeed first catch my eye as Draco, the Evil Warlord, in the very first Xena: Warrior Princess episode, SINS OF THE PAST (01/101). He played the role again in the second season ender, COMEDY OF EROS (46/222). Draco is definitely my favorite male villain on XWP. You know he is "bad", but you just cannot hate this guy.

[3] I was pleased that he would write to me, and over the course of several e-mails, I discovered that he is very funny, he cooks, and he is not only a talented actor, he's a musician as well.

[4] Jay has been on the stage in several productions. He was in the Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice) as Simon and in the New Zealand production of Jesus Christ Superstar as Judas. He was also in a play called Ladies Night as "Wesley". This production featured his fellow Xena/Herc actors Kevin Smith (Ares) and Michael Hurst (Iolaus). He has been in some movies like Never Say Die (Geoff Murphy, 1988), Violent Earth, and The Navigator: A Mediaeval Odyssey (Vincent Ward, 1988). As for TV, he has been in an episode of High Tide (Tv 1994-1997) called "Hot Rocks" as Buck Walton. He was also on Marlin Bay, Heroes (Australian TV, 1988), Other Side Of Paradise (UK TV, 1992), and The New Adventures Of The Black Stallion (TV, 1992), in which, Jay says, "I played a horse trainer in three episodes".

Water Rats

[5] Jay is currently very busy starring in the Australian Police Drama Water Rats (1996-present). Water Rats is as popular, if not more so, in Australia than NYPD Blue (TV, 1993-present) is in the U.S. Jay wrote: "I live in Australia, where I have been filming a police drama called Water Rats. It's about the Sydney water police. I play Senior Constable Tommy Tavita. I drive the police launch around Sydney harbor catching crooks and fishing dead bodies out of the harbor (just pretending). I take a couple of weeks off every now and again to go back to New Zealand (where I am from,) to film Xena".

[6] I asked Jay if I was sending him too many questions at a time and he wrote: "The questions were no hassle compared to answering fan mail for Water Rats from our European fans: German, Swedish, Italian, Chinese, Greek, etc. I have to make sure that what I am saying is right". It is refreshing to hear that Jay handles his fan mail personally. Not many big stars do.

[7] Laga'aia: "Our new season starts soon, and I have been doing promotions all over the country". Jay later wrote: "We've just launched our new season, and it went off with a bang. The network is pleased and that can only mean one thing, 'show me the money!!!!!'"

[8] Later, Jay filled us in on what it is like behind the scenes on the set: "I have just completed my first week back at work after the break, and on Monday after lunch, everyone looked at their watches trying to calculate when the Easter break was going to happen. So the holidays were basically gone before lunchtime on the first day".

[9] Wheaton: Do you mind if I ask a few things about the show? I read that Jeremy Callaghan had played Kevin Holloway on Water Rats. Does he still? I remember seeing him as Palaemon in the Xena episode BLIND FAITH (42/218). Also, I had heard that Erik Thomson has been added to the cast of Water Rats. Is that true? I know him from both Xena and Hercules as Hades, god of the underworld.

[10] Laga'aia: "To answer your questions about Jeremy and Erik, they both had an on-going guest role on our show, but not anymore. I do remember a conversation that Jeremy and I had about the fact that the pretend scars we both had on our faces were becoming real scars because of the chemicals the makeup department had to use to remove them each day. It takes eight days to film an episode of Xena, and you not only learn on the day of shooting, about the different situations you are placed in, you also have to learn the fight sequences as well on the spot. Now imagine sweating and fight only pausing every now and then to apply more glue to your scars. A most envious way to make a living, I think not".

That rotten little Bliss kid ain't getting me next time!

Jay was surprised to hear that he was on his own Topps Trading Card.

Xena and Herc Tidbits

[11] Jay also told me some Xena news. "I have been talking with the Xena office about my character and what we can do with him. Yes, also discussing Draco's next foray into the land of the princess warrior. I liked the idea of Draco saving Xena from an angry god, and return being killed and brought back to life as an even meaner character".

[12] Jay also mentioned that, "Xena is still going strong." As for Hercules, Jay wrote: "Speaking of which, Kevin Sorbo has strained his shoulder so bad that he will have to take at least a month off. So they have been using the young Hercules in a couple of episodes, and also Kevin Smith will feature heavily in upcoming shows. Hercules has been picked up again much to the astonishment of the crew who thought that it had run it final battle".

[13] Wheaton: I was wondering if you have ever been on Hercules or if they have asked you because of Kevin's injuries? How did the brainstorming go with the Xena people? It would be great to see you again as Draco, but you as another character would be fun too.

[14] Laga'aia: "The answer to your question is no, I have not been on Hercules, but yes there has been countless requests from both camps as to my availability. After filming the first Xena episode, SINS OF THE PAST (01/101), I left New Zealand to start working on this show, Water Rats. Because we film all year round, it makes it difficult to find time to fly to New Zealand to film".

[15] Laga'aia: "I think the funniest thing about both Xena and Hercules is that I am either related, dated, friend or foe of about every cast and crew member of the these two mighty shows".

Fan Inquiries

[16] I offered fans in Internet forums the opportunity to submit questions to Jay through me. Some of the following questions were answered twice due to a mix-up in e-mail, but both of Jay's responses were revealing, so both are presented here.

[17] Danielle said, "This is so cool," and asked "How did you like working on Marlin Bay? I saw one episode; was it a recurring role for you? What's been your favorite thing about playing a bad guy (Draco or any others)? What would you like to see Draco do if the writers want to bring him back"?

[18] Jay wrote to Danielle: "I really enjoyed working on Marlin Bay because all my friends were working in front of, and behind the cameras. It was also nice to work with Lucy Lawless, (who played a rather naughty waitress). I also like the idea of creating a character from nothing. I wanted to make Draco charming and articulate and yet dangerous as a long tailed tiger in a room full of rocking chairs. I also have the honor of being the first bad guy in Xena. I am hoping that the writers bring Xena and Draco back in a quest in which they must cooperate or die. It would make interesting viewing".

I don't care where your tattoos are located, and quit whispering in my ear!

Lucy Lawless and Jay had worked together on Marlin Bay.
[19] Jay wrote further to Danielle: "I really enjoyed working on Marlin Bay because I was playing a role that didn't really stereotype me, so that enabled me to have a bit of fun with character. It was also the first time I got to work with Lucy Lawless, who played a naughty waitress in the series. I also enjoy playing Draco because he was the first Xena bad guy and he's a charmer, a gentleman, a lover of woman, and a barbarian. If he were to be brought back, I'd like to see him be forced to help Xena in some quest basically because he knows he can't do it on his own".

[20] Joann asked me, "I just would like to know, how he received the part of Draco, my fav bad guy in SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)."

[21] Jay wrote to Joann: "I was cast because it was a new show and they didn't know how it would be received. They needed someone who had a good idea on fast turn around television, who had a solid theatre background and who didn't mind getting beaten up by a girl. She can stand on my chest any day".

[22] Jay also wrote to Joann: "I was asked to come down to the producers' office and have a chat to them about what I thought a bad guy should be. I wanted this character to be witty yet deadly, smooth like an uncut diamond. I was pleased when they offered me the role, and the rest they say is myths and legends".

[23] Bello asked what Jay thought about the writer's choice of making Draco "good" in A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222).

[24] Jay wrote to Bello: "Let's get one thing straight. Draco was all gushy when he left the temple, but what the viewers didn't see was that as soon as he got outside he took two virgins with him, for research purposes".

I now pronounce you baffled and clueless. Everyone may kiss the amazon.

Draco confesses his Love for Gabrielle in COMEDY OF EROS.
[25] Oshram asked: "I would ask Jay what he really thinks of Draco's feelings for Gabrielle? Does he think his character is really in love, or will Draco snap out of it? He also stated, "Thanks for giving us this opportunity!"

[26] Jay wrote to Oshram: "To answer your question, no, I don't think Draco could ever love someone like Gabrielle because Xena was his love. She is cunning, strong, fearless, beautiful and yet deadly. Draco enjoys being burnt by Xena. As soon as he left the temple he came across an old woman who was struggling with a heavy load of food, he offered to help but she spat in his face, telling him she knew who he was. That snapped him out of Cupid's trance. Beware, I'll be back".

[27] Jay also wrote to Oshram: "I think that he was in love with Gabrielle for a little while, but if the truth be known, he would tire of her and probably trade her for a good horse and gun powder".

[28] Sal_Fan wanted to know if there were any funny bloopers or mistakes made behind the scenes of the show.

[29] Jay wrote to Sal_Fan: "Why does everyone want to know about the things that went wrong? To start with in COMEDY OF EROS (46/222), I was completely naked in the bath tub scene when they called lunch. Everyone quickly took off leaving me there with no clothes screaming for wardrobe to get me something to wear. Just as I was screaming naughty swear words at our first assistant director (who also happens to be a friend of mine), a lunch time tour group shuffled through the studio. There were sixty of them who came to watch the filming. They ranged from 18-80 years of age. Unfortunately for me, my tent set was right by the doors so they all came over to have chat with me as I tried to sink down into the bath and Lucy just stood there and laughed along with Ted, who plays Joxer".

[30] Jay also wrote to Sal_Fan: "As in all recorded media there are always bloopers and one that springs to mind was when we were filming COMEDY OF EROS (46/222). I had just finished doing the nude bath tub scene (and yes, I was), when the first assistant director called lunch. Everybody left, and I was still sitting in this bath with no clothes. I was about to start swearing when a tour group shuffled through the set. There were about thirty of them aged between 18/60 years. When they saw me sitting there half submerged they asked if they could have a photo taken. So there you go".

Xena, you're gonna need a bigger banana...

Jay got Caught in the Tub.
[31] Lori wanted to know if Jay played any musical instruments, planned on doing any U.S.-based TV, and if any more stage shows were coming up???

[32] Jay wrote to Lori: "Yes, I am actually a musician by trade. I play several different instruments including guitar, bass, piano, drums, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, blues harp, to name a few. I also have a four octave range, which enables me to sing just about anything I please. Gospel is one of my favorites. I also hope to do some work in the States, but at the moment I am sooooooo busy. I do a lot of improvisation shows, which enables me to sharpen my craft. In January, I hope to audition for the stage musical, Rent".

[33] At a Xena/Hercules convention, they had a countdown of the top 10 Greatest Villains. Beth asked if Jay had heard that Draco was slated as the #3 villain on Hercules/Xena, behind Callisto and Ares.

[34] Jay wrote to Beth: "This is the first time that I heard that about Draco (which is the name given to a dragon cluster of stars in the Milky Way). I was honored in such a way. I must be a bad *ss".

[35] Douglass asked, "What hobby or hobbies do you enjoy? What was the most fun about doing COMEDY OF EROS (46/222)? What is the one thing that you want to accomplish? Do you prefer comedy or drama"?

[36] Jay wrote to Douglass: "When I'm not working I enjoy playing basketball, writing songs, and children's stories. I am also a huge Star Trek fan. COMEDY OF EROS (46/222) was so much fun to make because Draco had so many dramatic levels. Love struck, villain, jealous lover, and then days of our lives do-gooder. When I grow up, I want to direct film and also do theatre, which is my first love, also water ski and breast feed. Obviously not in that order".

[37] Mich asked, "One of my long-time favorite actors is Rutger Hauer. Do you have any favorite actors you also admire? How about any other favorite lesser known character actors? Are there any actors (or actresses) you'd especially like to co-star with in the near future? And are there any other popular recurring characters you'd especially like to see Draco confront or interact with during future XWP or HTLJ episodes"?

[38] Jay wrote to Mich: "One of my all time favorite movies is Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982), with Rutger Hauer in it. I've always wanted that TV set Harrison Ford had. I never really had actors I looked up to when I was young because acting was not a viable option. Get a proper job my father would always say. I would like to see Draco in a full out battle of good verses evil and maybe a show down with Callisto".

[39] Sandra wrote, "Ask him what it was like working with Lucy and Renee, and if he's going to be in anymore episodes of Xena or even if he might be in any Hercules episodes?"

[40] Jay wrote to Sandra: "It is always a pleasure working with Lucy because she has the weight of over three hundred jobs on her shoulders, and she handles it pretty well. Renee is one of those people that you could easily find yourself liking without really knowing why. I think it's because she is so down to earth, she mixes with the crew and extras well, and she is also very good at swinging that staff. I hope to do more. The problem we have is because I live and work in Sydney, Australia. We have to get dates well in advance so that I can get time off my show to work on theirs in New Zealand".

Mardi Gras Parade and Other Tidbits

[41] Wheaton: Jay wrote to me and told me, "I will be working the Sydney Mardi Gras, which is the largest gay and lesbian street parade in the world. (No, I'm not [gay] and thanks for asking). I will be comparing the event. The organizers expect at least one million people to flock to this event".

[42] Wheaton: So, how did the Parade go? Jay wrote: "As for the parade, let me tell you. There were more leathers and whips than the entire series of Bonanza. It was indeed an eye opener. I wore a pin stripped, purple, three piece suit, which made me look like a cross between Prince and k.d.lang. Oh well, at least now I am the lesbian icon ... move over Xena".

[43] Jay also wrote and told me some behind the scenes info on Amazon High and Young Hercules: "Over the recent break the crew have been working on another pilot show called Amazon High. Directed by Michael Hurst (Herc's trusty sidekick Iolaus). Also hot off the press, Young Hercules has been given the go ahead. Fifty half-hour episodes will screen and are shortly to go into production. So there is lots of things to see and do".

But I still look cool in leather!

Jay without his Warrior Garb.


Angela Lesa Wheaton Angela Lesa Wheaton
I'm 27 and a Nurse Aide at a nursing home. I have 2 Associates degrees: one in Business Administration and one in Marketing and Retailing. I am presently working on my Bachelors degree. I started taking Computer Classes last year and hope to get a job being a Webmaster for a Company once my schooling is completed. I enjoy reading, TV, music and movies!!! While growing up, I ALWAYS wanted to travel to New Zealand and Australia, as they are such BEAUTIFUL Islands!!! Greek Mythology ALWAYS held a fascination for me, so when I heard about Xena and Hercules... I was EXCITED!!! Here they have 2 of my most favorite things together AND a GREAT cast of characters to boot!!! My Online Nickname is ALWheaties...My main webpage is at: http://alwheaties.simplenet.com/TubeWatch.html and my Jay Laga'aia website will be at: http://alwheaties.simplenet.com/Jay_Lagaaia.html.
Favorite episode: It's SO HARD to choose just 1!!! I guess my MOST favorite is IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? (24/124)
Favorite line: Xena to Callisto: "You're acting so Strangely that I hardly know ya, but still I don't trust you as far as I can throw ya". THE BITTER SUITE (58/312)
First episode seen: THE PATH NOT TAKEN (05/105)
Least favorite episode: GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (28/204)

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