Whoosh! Issue 45 - June 2000

An Interview With Adrienne Wilkinson

Guest Starring Nitty Gritty

Hey!  I can bend these crummy chakram knockoffs with my bare hands!  Three hundred dinars for this?

Identity crises can be nasty.
That's the mark of the serious actress I should think, discovering all the subtle implications within the text itself. So now changing the subject, I'm sure you can imagine how much every fan fantasizes about being a performer on the show. So take us through the steps. What happens when you arrive there? Where do you stay, how much prep time do you have, and bottom line, what's it like?

Renaissance Pics puts all of the guest actors in a lovely hotel that looks out over the harbor. Although I was working at the time, I'm told that you could see the America's Cup Race from the windows of my room. Preparation time is different for everyone. I'm sure Lucy could almost do the job in her sleep by now, so she doesn't need as much time. We didn't get the material more than a few days in advance. How each person prepares is unique, but as much as possible is done prior to arriving on set.

[45] My hours were very long, about 5 am to about 8 pm every weekday. But I enjoy what I do, so the time really flew by. I only worked with 2nd unit on three occasions. They were all wonderful. I can't say there was even one person that wasn't just fabulous while I was there. Many people have worked for the company for a long time, and others are just there for a while learning as they move on to something else. Special effects are the most tedious. They take the longest, and those setups require the most work. The locations were simply breathtaking, and the sets were brilliant.

[46] It takes a huge amount of people (more than most shows) to film Xena, so there is ample opportunity to meet tons of great people. At this point on the show, all of the regulars know exactly what they are doing, so they don't really need much rehearsal, just for hitting marks and camera angles etc.

[47] The stunt crew is unbelievably good. They covered all of the acrobatics, etc. But I was quite shocked by how much of the stunt work I was doing myself. I had lots of experiences that I never would have had in every day life. It's amazing how smooth the whole machine works with so many different pieces to deal with.

You bring up a good point - the physicality of your role. Given that you are fairly petite (5'5" and not much more than 100 lbs.) and that you don't come from an action film background, any idea why they thought this was a good role for you? Do you think your training as a dancer contributed?

I'm sure that the dance background helped, no question. But I think they probably saw something that even I couldn't see. Rob Tapert was there at the producers' session, and obviously he knows Lucy the best, so maybe he saw something in me that was reminiscent of Lucy or maybe the opposite. Maybe he saw the makings of a good adversary, one never knows what they are thinking. I know that the meeting went really well, and I was able to play with the material and deliver it in a few different ways to show them some range. And as long as they knew I could act, the stunt team is so well trained, that if I had been a horrible fighter, the majority of it could have been cheated. Fortunately, I was able to carry both responsibilities.


That's very impressive. Even if any number of people now hate you for being so tiny. No, just kidding! Changing the subject once again, let's talk about directors. Rick Jacobson [LIVIA (110/520), MOTHERHOOD (112/522)] is the most prolific of the episode directors for Xena, and has feature film experience too. What was he like to work with?

Rick is so laid back. A director's job is so stressful. I've heard it said that most directors are asked more than 900 questions a day while filming, and Rick was always very calm. He had SO much to do, and I thought it would be impossible, but he always got it all done. He has a great sense of humor, and that helps on big days. He is especially good with all of the special effects. I really enjoyed working with him. He is great at his job, and you can tell he loves it.

I'm less familiar with Mark Beesley [EVE (111/521)]. Could you tell us about him?

I am in love with Mark as a director. He is great. There are many types of directors, and he is an "actor's" director. He speaks in emotions and really gets into what your character is thinking in the moment and how would they react. He recently had a film released called Savage Honeymoon (2000). It has some amazing sparks of brilliance. Everyone should see it if they get the chance. He is from New Zealand himself. He was also very funny. He would say things at the end of takes like, "Well, that wasn't horrible", or "I guess I didn't hate that". It took about a day before I realized that meant he loved it. "Not horrible" is about the best compliment he gives. He was fun.

Rob, Lucy, Renee, et al

How about the writers? Were any of them on the set? How much input into your lines and scenes did you have? And was Rob Tapert as hands-on as I've read? For that matter, does Lucy Lawless ever have input into the bigger picture?

I never met any writers. But there were tons of rewrites, as there are on most shows. I was given free range to change dialogue and make things work for me (with their approval, of course) as well as all other actors. The table reads help everyone flush out what is missing and what needs work. I was a bit shy of changing anything, but it was nice to have the option. Rob is great, and yes, very "Hands-on". I believe he created the entire story for the season finale, MOTHERHOOD (112/522). Lucy is such a genius with the shows. She knows in an instant what needs work. She is very vocal, because, of course, it's her show, and she wants it to be the best it can be.

Speaking of Lucy, is she pretty much an instinctive performer?

Lucy knows her character so well, that she just jumps into it in a moment's notice. It seems she almost doesn't need to prepare anymore. It's really inspiring to watch her work.

Did you see baby Julius on the set?

Julius is adorable, and has these blue eyes that just glow like Lucy's.

How about Renee O'Connor? I've read that she is a very organized and thoughtful actress.

She definitely does her work, but most of it is prior to being on set. She obviously does a lot of preparation, and you can tell that she very heavily weighs each decision she makes about her character and her character's actions.

You also worked with Kevin Smith. I gather he is very much the professional, and not at all like the "bad boy" Ares.

He is so fun! He loves to talk about his kids. He is a very proud father. He has a very dry and sarcastic sense of humor. He is a very well trained actor. He has done tons of theatre, and it's very interesting to listen to him talk about his experiences.

Ted Raimi would be my personal favorite. I hear he's a big cut-up. Does he ever ad-lib?

When does he not ad lib??? He has such a well of creativity. I don't think I saw him do the same thing twice. Ted is hilarious. On and off camera. He was quite miserable in the prosthetic makeup that was required because of the 25-year jump in the story line. The makeup took forever to apply, and in the hot weather it wanted to melt. It also impaired his vision a bit, so he was always eager to hear wrap called for the day.

And there is now a second generation Joxer? Virgil, played by Greg Lee? What's his background?

He's done quite a bit of work, including being the lead in an NBC series a few years ago, but unfortunately it had a very short life span. He's done lots of TV spots, and I know there is a lot of interest in him at the moment. I wouldn't be surprised to see Greg become a huge 'star'. (I believe he is from Virginia.) And yes, he plays Meg and Joxer's son. He's another funny one. What a great set to be surrounded by people that made you laugh all the time.

You also worked with a lot of the guest stars who play gods, such as Meighan Desmond, who plays the "little leather clad licorice stick" Discord.

Meighan was an absolute doll. Very sweet.

Did you encounter any of the folks from the other Renaissance shows being produced there?

I believe Cleopatra 2525 (TV, 2000-) was on hiatus, but Jack Of All Trades (TV, 2000-) was being filmed, and we all lunched together occasionally. Plus at the production office you run into people from all the shows.

Season 6 and New Zealand

So you are getting ready to head back to New Zealand to film the episodes for next season. Knowing that you are essentially forbidden to let anything out about upcoming episodes, nonetheless, anything you can tell us about Livia next season?

Ohh, I'd love to, but I don't want to spoil any surprises. To be honest, I know very little myself. I've only just received the first script, so I don't know much more than you do. All I know is she will be full of surprises.

[74] Author's Note: What a very polite and gracious way to say, "Not on yer life, buddy!" It's this courtesy that convinced me that Adrienne Wilkinson is every parent's dream daughter.

What was your impression of New Zealand?

What a beautiful and fascinating place. It's a bit disconcerting to be in such rugged terrain, but to know that nothing harmful resides there. What is remarkable is that there is such a wide variety of terrain. Within an hour you can be at black sand or white sand beaches, hiking a volcano, swimming in a lake, or just shopping in town. I was probably most surprised by how Americanized the country is. They have almost exclusively US television and magazines, and the products they sell are very similar.

Music, Future, and Fan Club

A fine conditioner and a fine camera angle work together

Another 'natural' shot.
So speaking of selling, let's see if we can't sell some cd's. I understand you're in a band? Have you determined a name yet?

The name. Ugh. We've been searching for about two months. Luckily it doesn't actually have to be decided until things are being printed, so we still have a bit of time. We have about three that we are partial to, but we are just wanting to fall in love with something. We are hoping to be on tour by July 2000. The group was started with me and my best friend Marisa. We are both actors and singers and dancers, and we had some very specific ideas about what we were interested in conceptually for the music, the videos, and the live shows. The group is now officially five girls. The music is sweet. It has everything from rap to opera worked into it. The entire experience is unpredictable, but if all goes as planned, we should have an album available by late summer or early fall. I'm very proud of all the work we are doing. I hope it goes over as well as we anticipate.

What sort of roles would you like to do in the future? Do you see yourself as focusing on TV, on stage, on film or all of the above? Could music be a vital part of that? Any desire to write, direct, or produce?

All of the above. There are so many things that I wish to do. I would love to eventually be involved in all aspects of the industry, at least try my hand at everything.

What's next on your agenda?

Well, obviously the music group. That will take a lot of time. I haven't been back yet to New Zealand for Xena, but upon my return, the music will be the next big project. It will take a lot of work to really make it happen. From there, who knows? It's entirely unpredictable.

I gather you already have an official on-line fan club?

http://www.angelfire.com/celeb/adriennewilkinson/ is the address. The president is Shawna Pedego. She is a co- worker of my step-aunt. She is a very big Xena fan and was able to contact me through my family. When I first heard from her, I thought it sounded like a fun idea, but that there wouldn't be enough interest over such a new character to make it worthwhile. But things have been wonderful so far, so we are giving it a shot, and everyone is welcome to visit. Both the site and the fan club will be growing over the next month or so. Shawna is working very hard to have as much info available as possible.

Thank you so much for your willingness to talk with us!

Thank you very much for the interest. I'm flattered and excited to see so much support for the new character. I hope everyone will be pleased.

Previous Section
Table of Contents


August Krickel August Krickel
August Krickel is my real name, believe it or not. It's German, and refers to Caesar, Augustus Caesar, not to the month. I'm a native South Carolinian, and a fan of mythology since reading a comic book version of THE ILIAD as a little boy. This led me to study Classics at Vanderbilt U., at the U. of Georgia, and the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, but I currently work in university administration. Over the past 20 years, however, I have had a sideline career as free-lance actor, director, and drama critic, working/studying with Oscar winners Ben Kingsley and Delbert Mann, and appearing most recently as the narrator of the touring WWII-themed stage show, THE ROAD TO VICTORY. This double interest in myth and drama has made XWP my favorite show. My last Whoosh! interview was with Campbell Cooley (http://www.whoosh.org/issue41/icooley1.html).
Favorite episode: THE PRICE (44/220), A GOOD DAY (73/405)
Favorite line: Joxer: "Ok, then its settled. We're a team. Joxer the Mighty, and his mighty band of mighty men. Girls. Joxer the Mighty and his fighting mighty women fighters. Fighting." IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL (72/404)
First episode seen: THE TITANS (07/107)
Least favorite episode: LITTLE PROBLEMS (98/508), KING CON (61/315)

Return to Top Return to Index