November 17th, 2011
11:42 AM ET

Lucy Lawless goes to TEDMED

You may know her as Xena from "Xena: Warrior Princess" and, more recently, Lucretia from "Spartacus," but you may not expect that Lucy Lawless would fly all the way from New Zealand to California for TEDMED, a conference about great ideas in health care.

"It's like a beauty pageant for brilliant people, where you sit in the audience and all these geniuses comes out and like, parade their incredible brilliance in front of you," said the New Zealand-born actress in Coronado, California, in October.

Lawless, 43, was not dressed as a warrior, an ancient social climber or a "honey-badgerette." Making her first conference appearance in athletic pants and flip-flops, she avoided broad recognition, although many attendees did figure out her identity. Friendly to everyone, and eager to learn about the fascinating people at the conference, she wasn't even put off when a biochemist told her, "I heard Lucy Lawless is here!" She merely showed him her ID badge and, after a moment of awkwardness (during which I joined the conversation), we all naturally turned to topics such as genetic testing.

"I'm not a geek, but I love geeks," she said. "I love these people who have focused all their attention on like, lasers, on some particular area."

Her favorite role to play is her current one, Lucretia, on a show inspired by the life of the gladiator Spartacus. The role of the wife of Spartacus' master Batiatus is challenging, and the character is complex, she said.

In her spare time, she helps the fund-raising arm of a children's hospital in New Zealand, and is involved with Greenpeace in New Zealand.

"Life out in space is cold - or it's really hot, but it's inhospitable. You don't want to go there. There is no planet B. This is it. Its very fragile, let's save it."

This is the first CNN.com interview from TEDMED 2011. Check back next Thursday for more.

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Mariana Siegmann

    Great Interview!!!!!!

    November 17, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sara

    Lucy Lawless is a goddess! She will always be Xena to me

    November 17, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • eg


      November 17, 2011 at 21:47 | Report abuse |
    • lib hater

      she'll always be a liberal

      November 17, 2011 at 23:14 | Report abuse |
    • MrSnow

      Don't let her near them, she's a Cylon!

      November 19, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
  3. Michael Weston

    My name is Michael Weston, and I used to be a spy...loved Lucy's performance in the "False Flag" espisode of Season One of Burn Notice.

    November 17, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam Axe

      Yeah she was....Hey Mkiey, you know i boned her, right?

      November 18, 2011 at 00:11 | Report abuse |
    • Michael Weston

      Yeah, Sam, about that...

      November 19, 2011 at 01:11 | Report abuse |
  4. Ron

    A beautiful lady in and out.

    November 17, 2011 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Silvia

    Special person and very intelligent.

    November 17, 2011 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rachel

      Smart, sensitive and beautiful lady. Oh yeah, and she's a great actress! Can't say all these things about alot of them!

      November 17, 2011 at 20:01 | Report abuse |
  6. /sigh

    "Life out in space is cold – or it's really hot..."

    It's also very dark – or it's really light...
    It's also very dry – or it's really wet...
    It's also very open – or it's really cramped...


    November 17, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sharky

    NO WAY! Lucy likes Geeks? I'm a Geek!! Why did she get that restraining order against me?!

    November 17, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bigdoglv

      Hey Sahrky, you too?

      November 17, 2011 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
  8. Vanessa

    A very kind and inspiring lady.

    November 17, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Summer Sun

    What an intelligent and classy lady. Beautiful inside and out. I'm a big fan of Xena and Spartacus.

    November 17, 2011 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Leaf on the Wind

    "This is the first CNN.com interview from TEDMED 2011." And they pick Lucy Lawless as the subject of that first interview instead of someone actually presenting a panel? Nothing against Lucy, I like her work, she's quite talented, but this is TEDMED, not Comic-Con.

    November 17, 2011 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ED

      Very true, but, sadly, society at large is more concerned with celebrities and entertainment than events like TEDMED's conference. She's been involved with Greenpeace for a long time, from what I gathered online. So, I guess it makes sense that she would be there and, at the same time, that CNN would feature her there. More average Joes and/or couch potatoes would recognize Lucy Lawless over some unknown genius who has never had the exposure she has. That's not to say that CNN specifically cares so much about TEDMED's purpose, they're just going to do whatever piques viewers and internet browsers' interest while sticking loosely to their role of a "news" network. That is, covering this vs. not covering it. Back to Lucy Lawless: I don't think I've ever seen her on a televised red carpet, so I'm just glad that I see her involved in something like this than in Hollywood glitz and glamour!

      November 17, 2011 at 20:17 | Report abuse |
    • elandau

      Hello Leaf on the Wind, we have a great lineup of interviews with scientists and doctors who spoke at TEDMED coming up. We just thought it would be fun to have Lucy, who herself is a fan of this conference, to begin.

      Check back in next Thursday!

      Elizabeth Landau, CNN

      November 18, 2011 at 08:58 | Report abuse |
    • CAW

      How many people would have read the story if it hadn't had LL's name in the headline?

      November 21, 2011 at 07:57 | Report abuse |
  11. pleasedotell

    I LOVE LUCY!!!!!!! Warrior, yet down to earth, classy Lucy.

    November 17, 2011 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Kyon

    She is like wonder woman

    November 17, 2011 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jack Point

    You wrote "I love these people who have focused all their attention on like, lasers, on some particular area."
    I do wish you would learn some English. Wouldn't it make more sense if you punctuated it as:
    "I love these people who have focused all their attention on – like lasers – on some particular area."
    Or if you are willing to correct the spoken word of an interviewee:
    "I love these people who have focused all their attention on, like lasers, some particular area."

    It makes reading it easier, and far less likely to miscomprehension. It even makes your interviewees look like they understand the language they are purported to speak.


    November 17, 2011 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Your Name Here

      Dude! Take a break!

      November 17, 2011 at 20:18 | Report abuse |
    • geeky

      here's some punctuation for you – (.)(.)

      November 20, 2011 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
  14. trip

    Lucy does a lot of great charity work. As for TEDMED and CNN – I would never have known about TEDMED if CNN hadn't interviewed Lucy. Thats a win in my books!

    November 17, 2011 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. David Kashfi

    A very interesting interview with a very talented lady.

    November 17, 2011 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Chuck

    No one has yet thought to research why she came to TEDMED. The merest search turns up a good reason....

    November 18, 2011 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Edwin

    Oh Lucy, I would submit to you like a Frenchman in wartime.

    November 18, 2011 at 21:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Anita

    God i love this lady so much. A true inspiration to all!!!

    November 20, 2011 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Ben James

    My hats off to Lucy for getting informed and involved in health care research and technology.

    November 21, 2011 at 02:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kori

      Fajne fotki ...Na Alasce pada sporo ,a w driguej polowie lipca do polowy sierpnia najwiecej ...Ale tyle to juz sami wiecie .Thanksy za suvenirki

      February 1, 2012 at 02:17 | Report abuse |
  20. Myto Senseworth

    Glad to hear this about Lucy. Would have expected to read a little more about TEDMED.

    November 21, 2011 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ahmmad

      Jak zbzocayłem ostatnie dwa zdjęcia, zanim przeczytałem wpis, to wyglądało to dla mnie jak miejsce, gdzie dzielni mieszkańcy Alaski mają rzeźnię, a wzorki są zrobione z krwi.

      February 1, 2012 at 00:43 | Report abuse |
    • otppowhwtx

      ibrbee ehjerthrzlzn

      February 3, 2012 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • aklaoqu

      sl5w5T zvurdycdrura

      February 6, 2012 at 03:49 | Report abuse |
  21. Chuck

    OK – Lucy flies all the way from NZ to CA – why? For a cool conference? Well, TEDMED is as cool as they come, but look for a deeper reason: anybody notice that her dear friend and co-star died recently from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma? Ah, yes, now the lightbulbs....

    November 24, 2011 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Kathy

    She is still and always Xena no matter what.

    December 11, 2011 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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    We're a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with useful info to work on. You've performed an impressive activity and our entire community will probably be grateful to you.

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