[I write this in] the month of March named after Mars the God of War in ancient Rome also known as Ares the Greek God of War. Whenever I imagine this deity, the archetype brought to life on Xena: Warrior Princess by actor Kevin Smith, I see Ares waving his red banner of powerful passion and lust, taunting both Xena and the audience with a conflict of love and hate. And yet Kevin Smith ignited the role with a fire uniquely his own and a compassion that not only seduced Xena but us mortals as well. And the news of his tragic death surpassed even the ending of the Warrior Princess' life on the series for me.
I have only seen Kevin Smith interviewed once speaking fondly of his co-star and friend Lucy Lawless in a surprising Kiwi accent filled with humour and charm. After hosting many a Xena Night at my home I have heard nothing but positive feedback about this man from New Zealand who brought an ancient deity to life with amazing sex appeal.
My condolences go out to his family, friends and many fans around the globe. I will always remember him as a mortal god and may his soul find peace in the Elysian Fields.
Salt Spring Island, BC
I have yet to deal with my feelings over the loss of Kevin. Even now typing this the tears are effecting my vision. Since I started this part of my life in the Xenaverse, there were only two actors I can say I would go giddy over as a fan. One is Renee O'Connor and the other was Kevin Smith.
Everything I have heard about him over the years is how no matter what. He remembered who you were even if it was two years before and you spoke to him for a split second. I told my niece the very next Convention he was at, we were going to go. I wanted to meet such a beautiful soul. Dreamed of it.
More then anything I'm still in denial, expecting for him to be announced somewhere. How can he be gone? No matter how much I try I cannot fathom that. Xena and even Hercules, we all became this huge family, misfits if you say. No matter what you call it, it was a place for people to belong. The actors of Xena and Hercules fell deep into our hearts and souls.
The ending of Xena which I didn't care for, made me wish for a movie to fix the mess. The only thing is now, it can never be. Each of the actors who played these memorable characters can never be replaced. Never! No one can play Ares other then Kevin.
Kevin's Smith didn't care who you were or looked like. We were all mates to him and he went out of his way to make you feel that. His talent, humor, style, and grace didn't even come close to describing the whole man. Loving father and husband, someone's son, list goes on and on.
Kevin's passing, it's just not right. He had so much more to do and give and we do need more people like him on the earth. My mind is trying to understand why. I will miss this gentle sweet person and pray for his close friends and family. He will always be in my dreams and I hope someday long from now I will get my meeting with him.
Bless you Kevin. You're a rich man for your heart has touched thousands.
I never saw Kevin Smith in the flesh until I attended the Dearborn Creation convention in October of 2001. It wasn't my intent to miss his other appearances, but it was one of those things about the vagaries of being a fan of Xena. Either I couldn't go because it was a bad time or work requirements kept me home. When he came out for his appearance with the fans, he seemed relaxed and happy. Gripping the can of Diet Coke he had brought out with him, he answered again what must have been the most commonplace of questions. 'What was it like to kiss Lucy Lawless', 'what was it like working with Lucy and Renee', 'did he follow football', to which he replied he was a big fan of Kiwi football (rugby) and was far more familiar with it, although my impression was he knew a bit about Canadian football. He talked a bit about how he got started in the business and some of the roles he had had. He discussed his role on Lawless, his New Zealand cop TV movie series and said that, while there might be another movie, the series was probably finished. A question was asked about the differences between Iphicles and Ares and how he approached playing them. And he talked about his family, and especially his boys. It bothered his kids that he was always beat up by a girl, so that they never really liked the show, but I think he let them know that it wasn't always a bad thing to lose to a girl. During his whole talk, he was polite, kind, good-natured, warm and friendly.
The highlight of the convention was not Love Letters, as might be expected, but Hudson Leick's appearance. And it really wasn't Hudson's appearance, but what she made of it. At some point, after tossing Hershey's Kisses and standing on her stool, she decided to bring Kevin back on stage and asked him to switch clothes with her. I don't recall if he was aware of what she planned, but he was in the wings and was easy to find, as she went off-stage to pull him back out under the lights. He complied with her request, stripping down to his boxers (not loose ones either). I thought he seemed a bit embarrassed, but he grinned as he pulled his clothes off. Hudson took him off stage for the rest of the switch. Surprisingly, Hudson's dress fit him far better than I expected. The skirt at the waist was a bit snug and his chest was too broad to wear the bra, but there was enough room in the skirt to stuff bills in the waistband. Hudson suggested that for twenty dollars, people could come up for a hug (and a maybe a kiss.) People eagerly lined up and Kevin was the definite winner as a fund-raiser. His line was very long, curling around stage rear, back toward stage right. Besides a hug, Kevin had a word or two, as well as a smile, for each person who was in his line, allowing those people with the courage to slip the money in the waistband and, when that threatened to fill up, the bra.
Kevin's willingness to join in the fun and do something that was outside conventional rules shows how much heart he had. That appearance alone, I think, reflects what a kind, generous, humble and gracious man he was. In short, he was a gentleman in the best sense of the word.
Kevin Smith's death is significant for me because of the circumstances in my life that coincided with his death. About three years ago, I learned my brother's youngest son had contracted cancer of the brain. He had had surgery, which provided some relief and the cancer seemed to be in remission. My family was hopeful. But in December we learned that the cancer had returned, with a vengeance, and the doctors could do nothing. It was now only a matter of time.
When Kevin Smith's death was announced, it made me think a lot that weekend about my own nephew and how tragic the circumstances were for my brother's family. When I arrived home Monday night, my sister picked me up and said, "I have some bad news." I knew it was about my nephew. He had died that day. Thinking about it then and now, I am amazed at the similarities between my nephew and Kevin Smith. Both are named Kevin. Both have last names beginning with 'S'. Both leave a wife and children, although my nephew has only one boy. Kevin Smith was on the verge of making it big in Hollywood films, our Kevin had been getting his life together by obtaining a good paying job before the cancer struck. My family's Kevin was only a couple of years younger than Kevin Smith. And just as Kevin Smith's death has prompted friends to set up a fund to help his family, the same thing has been done for my brother, sister-in-law, niece-in-law and great-nephew. The care for my nephew and the subsequent funeral expenses has been a drain on my nephew's wife and my brother, who is shouldering so much of the cost of my Kevin's illness.
My brother's family is devastated by our Kevin's death. I can only think of Kevin Smith's wife, children and parents who must also be distraught. I watched my great-nephew as he sat next to my brother during the service. He looked bewildered and a bit uncomprehending. Joshua is about the same age as Kevin Smith's young sons and I imagine his reactions are much as the same as with Kevin Smith's boys; perhaps it is worse for them, since their father's death was so unexpected. My other nephew complained about the unfairness of it - and he's right. It is terribly unfair. It is unfair that these children grow up without their fathers, the wives are deprived of the companionship of their husbands and the parents the knowledge they have outlived their sons. But no matter how unfair it is, we still have our memories of each Kevin and how they lived their lives and that has to count for something.
Not long ago I watched THE XENA SCROLLS, and thought that I wasn't as sad as I ought to be. But because I was only in the second season and I knew more of Ares would be coming in subsequent tapes, I couldn't be sorrowful at this juncture because there were more appearances to come as I progressed though the seasons. I have always enjoyed Ares and Kevin Smith's portrayal of the God of War. It was always interesting to contrast the Ares from Hercules to the Ares of Xena. In Hercules, I think Ares was a bit more harsh and ruthless, more dark. The Ares of Xena seemed more manipulative but, over time, became a bit softer because of his love for Xena (irrespective of how deep or shallow that love might be.) But Ares also became mortal and this had to have some effect on him; the God Of War had a knowledge that the rest of the gods, with the exception of Aphrodite, never knew and that experience had to have had some psychological effect on the two gods.
If I had to choose an episode in which Kevin Smith does his best acting, it would be COMING HOME. I know many have selected OLD ARES HAD A FARM, and Kevin showed a fine sense of comedic acting there. But it was Ares' gradual descent into madness that showed what kind of acting chops he possessed. It was well-paced and incremental. We started out seeing Ares trying desperately to hide his mortality from the army he had gathered, with all the uncertainty of a god made human. By the time we arrived at the scene where Ares tries to chop Xena into little pieces in the valley where he has told his army to clear the path out, we suddenly realize, "This guy is nuts!" And it lasts all the way through the final battle between Xena and Ares, where Ares kills her and the Furies leave his mind. He comes back to sanity in a totally convincing way. There is no doubt in my mind this was a performance of a gifted actor. I hope when I watch the episode again, I will be able to see a man performing his craft so very well, and hope I don't dwell on the loss of that gift.
Losing Kevin Smith is both sad and tragic. However, we still have his record of performances on film that we can go back to repeatedly and watch. When my father died, I found it comforting that so many people had come to the funeral. I think this is important. I did not want my father forgotten and having all those people come to send him off was heartening. I hope Kevin Smith's family also take comfort in knowing there are so many people who knew about him and will not forget him. For me, I can continue to celebrate Kevin's work and his life by continuing to watch the show and perhaps his other work on film. That way I can send off to all who knew and loved him that he is not now or ever will be, forgotten. He will always be young and in his prime and I can take pleasure in that. He will remain my very favorite Ares, God of War.
Diane C. Bonacci
I was devastated to learn of actor Kevin Smith's death.
Kevin was perfect as the cocky, self-confident Ares, God of War. His Errol Flynn-style swagger was exactly right for the role and the action. His nonchalance, in the face of incredible opposition or even impending romance, was highly entertaining.
Kevin always kept the right touch and tone in every scene he played. His oft-unexpected appearances added to the total enjoyment of the show, with his character many times usurping the other characters. He was never just present in a scene, he was A Presence in it. The Xena and Ares scenes were marvels of equality - each was powerful, engaging, smart, antagonistic/romantic, and always intriguing.
A promising fine actor who plied his craft well, the handsome Kevin had great acting talent. How sad that we have lost him at such an early age.
I'll miss you, Kevin. I'm thankful for the many hours of entertainment you have given me and how you have touched and enriched my life. A star such as you is never really gone. You live on in the many videotapes. Any time I want to revisit you, I will put on one of my Xena episodes and watch you play that easy-going, crafty rogue - ARES GOD OF WAR. Many thanks, Kevin Smith, for those memorable moments.
Diane C. Bonacci
March 23, 2002
I was fortunate to be able to attend the Kevin Smith Memorial Service in Auckland. It was an emotional day. I was so impressed by the professionalism of all of the people involved with the memorial service. They got their bits done even through the hardest of circumstances. Each person was going through their own stages of grief.
I was very touched by the outpouring of emotion, by the singing, by the video, but the person I think 'helped' me the most was Lucy [Lawless]. She seemed to validate my grief as a fan. Everyone else seemed to be talking to Kevin's friends and family, but Lucy Lawless seemed to be talking to the fans as well as his close friends and family.
She said, "Upon hearing about Kevin's death, a great many people felt compelled to ring one another. To connect. Even if it meant complete silence... Speechless... This was no piece of celebrity gossip. Kevin touched people. It came as a personal blow, even for those people that had only met him once or seen him on the stage. Often we modify our grief by thinking that 'their lose is greater', they knew him better. But to honor Kevin, what he meant and still means to us...to love Kevin is to know him. So grieve fully and openly. For the other side of this bitter heartache lies joy gratitude and a profound sense of privilege of having known this man. Shine on Kevin."
I think she's right. We shouldn't let it modify our grief. We should 'grieve fully and openly'. We should feel sorry for ourselves as well. We have ALL lost a truly great friend.
I can still remember the first time I ever saw Kevin as Ares. My jaw fell to the floor. I don't think I remember ever seeing any man that was that good looking before. I fell in love with Ares in spite of who he was: the god of war. Kevin was the one responsible for that. He made Ares lovable. No other actor could have done that.
Then I saw him as his other characters, heard him sing, saw his serious and funny side and I said to myself, this is a very talented man. Very few people have "it" and Kevin had lots of it. Talented actor, entertainer, comedian, singer and his star was just beginning to shine. I could only image what heights he would have reached if he hadn't passed on.
I cried the first day I found out about his passing. Couldn't bring myself to believe it was true. Now that some time has passed it's beginning to dawn on me that we will never see that beautiful face on this earth again and it breaks my heart. He had a unique smile that really got to you. He was handsome, sexy, talented, gorgeous, sang like an angel and was a nice guy as well. That was the most amazing thing about him. He was down to earth and treated people, especially his fans, with great respect. He had it all: good looks, good heart, wonderful family, the respect of his peers and his fans and in spite of all that he still felt like one of us. He treated his fellowman as his equal.
I miss him already. It's hard to image a world without Kevin so I won't. He is no longer here in body, but he is everywhere, everywhere there is goodness, love, respect, dignity and humility. He was such a good human being. Very few people in this world are like that. It's not only what he had that made him so very special, but what he lacked. He lacked that which many others hold so dear to their heart, malice.
Whatever good things I or anyone else may say about Kevin Smith, we will always fall short. Kevin was much more than that.
I'll love you forever, Kevin!
E. A. Week
Like many Hercules and Xena fans, over the past few weeks I've been gradually processing the recent sad news out of New Zealand. Many friends have been in touch with me by phone and/or email, and we've been not only sharing our mutual shock and sadness, but reminiscing about what a great guy Smithy was.
I first started watching Xena in the spring of 1997, at the prompting of my friend Jan, who often prods me toward things she suspects I might find of interest. Shortly after that, I also began watching Hercules, because it seemed odd to watch only one of two shows that were so closely connected. It was the start of my involvement in a terrific fandom.
I noticed Kevin Smith almost immediately, although it took a few viewings to put a name to him, because his "look" could change so much from episode to episode. I first saw him as 'greasy biker Ares' in THE XENA SCROLLS, then as 'bad wig Iphicles' in SURPRISE, and finally, as 'thoroughly luscious badass babe' in JUDGEMENT DAY, when I finally realized that the big, buff guy in black leather was a Kiwi actor named Kevin Smith. I normally gravitate toward the hero of a show, but Smithy made it impossible not to love Ares--not only was he physically attractive, but he had a charisma, a sex appeal that seemed to ooze right out of his pores (I think it was the way he breathed, "Xena...").
And, thanks in part to some really terrific writing, he brought a lot of depth and subtlety to a character who would normally be a stereotypical black-hat villain. He was a bad guy, sure, but he had his own agenda, and didn't just cause mayhem because that was his role in the script. And a big part of the character's appeal was the way Smithy imbued him with a combination of swaggering braggadocio, scheming intelligence, and even a streak of vulnerability. For example, even as a powerful god, Ares still had to deal with his annoying nephew, Strife (played by the wonderfully funny Joel Tobeck).
I had not initially planned to attend any Xena conventions--as much as I enjoyed the show, I didn't feel any particular urge to see Lucy Lawless or Renee O'Connor in person. However, when I found out that Smithy would be appearing at Warrior Con in the September of 1997, I immediately emailed Jan, and suggested we attend. The con was a blast, for a variety of reasons, but meeting Smithy really made the weekend for me. He had two stage appearances, and at each one, he was funny, friendly, charming, and seemed genuinely delighted to be there. Despite the crowds of women basically swooning at his feet, he never seemed to let any of the attention go to his head. In addition to his stage appearances, he signed autographs, posed for pictures, sat in on some of the others guests' talks, and in general bowled people over with his niceness.
I was lucky enough to see him again at a convention in Orlando in May, 1999. This was a much bigger, Creation-run event, and lacked the cozy warmth of Warrior Con, but thanks to membership in the Kevin Smith fan club, I got to attend a 'members-only' brunch, where we could talk to Smithy, get pictures, etc., without the usual security goons' intrusiveness. He gave two stage presentations that weekend, and even handled the inevitable tactless questions with good humor.
Apart from the sheer entertainment pleasure Smithy offered, the biggest impact he had on me personally was that he inspired me to pick up my creative writing after a four-year drought. I hadn't attempted any fiction since 1993, but in 1997, I began writing Herk-Xena fanfic, because I wanted to write stories about Ares. Before I knew it, I was also writing articles for the on-line newsletter, Whoosh, editing fanfic for other writers, and even co-editing a Herk-Xena humor fanzine. As other interests developed, I branched out into Buffy and Angel fanfic, usually including Smithy as a main or a supporting character. A couple of years ago, I finally dared to begin writing an original mystery novel, which I am still working on now. And naturally, Smithy has a role in it-in fact, he's the first character I introduce, on the very first page of the story.
In addition to my writing, I've also made a number of new friends through Herk-Xena fandom, and have strengthened ties with old ones. I've done all sorts of crazy things, like spending $300 on a custom-tailored wool suit so that I could costume as Mel Pappas (thank you, Sophia!), traveling hundreds of miles by myself to visit Xenite friends or attend conventions, and striking up conversations with perfect strangers. If it hadn't been for Smithy, I probably would have more money than I do now, and I surely wouldn't have a nagging case of wrist tendonitis. But my life over the past four years would not be nearly as rich or as interesting. If I am ever published professionally, Smithy surely deserves part of the credit.
It was fitting that Jan, who kind of got this ball rolling, was the one to call me and break the sorry news about Kevin's death. In some ways, it's still sinking in. It's almost too bizarre to believe.
Kevin's death was not only a shock, the kind of accident people call a "senseless tragedy," it was the loss of a warm, talented, and funny man; especially in the current climate of the world, we need all the people like him we can get. It just doesn't seem to make any sense at all: a great guy in the prime of life, with a young family, on the verge of mainstream professional success. At times like this, you wonder if there is any justice in the world.
I know that Kevin meant a lot to many people, especially those who knew him well. I didn't know him personally, but he gave me something quite unwittingly: the gift of inspiration. I hope that this will last me a lifetime.
As Kevin would've said, cheers mates.
Valerie C. Noble
There aren't enough words to describe how much Kevin Smith touched my life. Because of him, I have lifelong friends and wonderful memories. His performances inspired me and unleashed my creativity. I dabbled in fanfiction and plunged myself into the adventure of webmistressing with my very own domain, a huge section of it dedicated to him. He is the reason for so many joys in my life and for this I am ever thankful.
I will miss Kevin Smith. I will remember the first time I met him. And I will remember the last time I saw him.
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