Lucy Lawless sports a shiner on Burn Notice.
Lucy Lawless as a damsel in distress? Say it ain't so! In a wild departure from her usual badass roles, the former Xena: Warrior Princess star will appear on USA Network's Burn Notice (tonight, 10 pm/ET) as a weepy, needy, emotionally frazzled mom who hires Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) to track down her missing husband and son. A much ballsier Lawless plays herself on Curb Your Enthusiasm in an episode airing Oct. 21. We gave the actress a call to discuss both gigs, plus the one that got away — the disastrous American version of Footballers' Wives.

TVGuide.com: It's downright surreal seeing you — a feminist icon — playing a desperate housewife.
Lucy Lawless: People always want to cast me as the s--tkicker. It was my old Xena pal Bruce Campbell [a Burn Notice regular] who championed me for the role. He really went to bat for me, because nobody believes I can do this stuff — you know, be tense and vulnerable and incredibly screwed up. I loved the part because it shows other sides of my personality.

TVGuide.com: So what are you saying? That Lucy Lawless likes to be rescued?
Lawless:
I'd lose my fan base instantly if I admitted to that! But, yes, on the extremely rare occasions when I need saving, I have enjoyed having a big, strong man at my side.

TVGuide.com: How'd you like shooting Burn Notice in Miami?
Lawless: It's a very sexy, beautiful, stylish city... but the temperature! I've worked in ghastly heat in the bayous of New Orleans where it was like a miasma, so hot that at 4 o'clock in the morning there was a river of wet heat trailing down my legs....

TVGuide.com: Hey, is this turning into phone sex? Cool!
Lawless:
[Laughs] Sorry. Anyway, New Orleans was bad, but it was nothing like Miami, where you could get no relief what... so... ever! It was as hot in the shade as it was in the sun, but I still had a great time. I had never even heard of Burn Notice because I only watch Court TV, but I'm now really taken with it. Jeffrey Donovan is a very exciting new star. And I'm crazy about the crew — they were so easy and relaxed, it was reminiscent of my Xena days.

TVGuide.com: What about your stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm? Word is, Larry David ignores his guest stars to the point of rudeness.
Lawless:
He's quiet and standoffish and doesn't really want to say hello or anything, but I was determined to be as obnoxious as possible. When I shot the episode, I had just received the new Xena [greeting] card that Hallmark puts out, so I wrote on it "Welcome to the Lucy Lawless Experience" and gave it to Larry. You open it up and it screams out the Xena war cry. He loved me ever after. So my advice to anyone trying to get on Larry's good side: Have your own Hallmark card.

TVGuide.com: What's the scoop on your return from the "dead" on Battlestar Galactica?
Lawless: I don't know. They've told me nothing. I have nothing to say.

TVGuide.com: At least tell us this: Did you know you'd be coming back when D'Anna was terminated by her fellow Cylons last season?
Lawless:
At the time there was talk that they weren't done with my character, but you know me, man! I don't sit around hoping for stuff. Show me the contract!

TVGuide.com: You were cast as Tanya in the ABC pilot Football Wives, a redo of the Brit hit Footballers' Wives. It's a fabulous, perfect concept, yet it failed to get a series pickup. How could ABC have possibly screwed it up?
Lawless: Your words, not mine.

TVGuide.com: C'mon, give us dish!
Lawless:
I think it needed to be spoofier and really trashy.

TVGuide.com: So it was too safe? How could it not be trashy? Tanya is a bitch-slapping, coke-snorting, hypersexed hubby killer — maybe the best character in the history of the known universe.
Lawless:
They were never going to put all that stuff in the American version. Disney owns ABC. If you're going to take all the bad behavior out of it, then you don't have a show. You can't keep up the pretense that footballers are well-scrubbed boys. A good number of them are great guys, I'm sure — wonderful husbands and fathers who don't take drugs — but that doesn't make good TV. Football Wives taught me there is no such thing as a sure thing.

TVGuide.com: You also do one of the voices in the upcoming animated DVD Justice League: The New Frontier. What a cast! Jeremy Sisto as Batman, Kyle MacLachlan as Superman, David Boreanaz as Green Lantern, Neil Patrick Harris as The Flash and you as Wonder Woman.
Lawless:
And let me tell ya, I won't be your Lynda Carter kind of Wonder Woman who's eating apple pie for breakfast! We're going back to the original concept of the character where she's a really tough chick — quite a brutal kind of Amazon, really.

TVGuide.com: The fans love that you keep returning to the sci-fi/fantasy fold. You don't forget them. You keep showing up at Comic-Con. You give back, baby!
Lawless:
You know what's crazy? The mainstream world doesn't understand how big the underground is or that there's such great longevity to be had there. That audience knows me. They get me. They're good to me. They're stickin' with me and I'm stickin' with them. I love my geek world!

Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi! The former warrior princess is all over our Online Video Guide.

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