Lucy Lawless Lucy Lawless
Xena is back, and she's taking names. Well, OK, not exactly. Lucy Lawless is back in the fantasy/sci-fi fold, playing D'Anna Friel, a pesky investigative journalist on Friday night's episode of

Battlestar Galactica (airing at 10 pm/ET on Sci Fi Channel). Not only will the former chakram-throwing warrior princess look a bit different in her outer-space existence — Xena gone blonde, yo! — but Lawless will be brandishing her native New Zealand accent for the first time ever on screen.

"I've always been hesitant to do that, because it felt kind of gimmicky," she says of going Kiwi with a character. "But because D'Anna is a journalist and has kind of, but not exactly, a tabloidy edge to her, I thought that going in with that kind of Australian tabloid/British-y thing was appropriate."

Besides, she says, "Why not do a Kiwi [accent]? Americans are starting to be able to understand me," she notes with a laugh, "so it just seemed the time and role were right for it. Everybody in the future is going to be talking that way!"

On Galactica, Lawless' lady journo will have the ship's crew on edge as she tries to get to what she believes is a cover-up regarding an on-board riot-turned-massacre. "She has been given carte blanche by the president (Mary McDonnell), and Adama (Edward James Olmos) has allowed it, begrudgingly," explains the actress, who added a subtext of her own — and maybe only her own — to her scenes with the ship's commanding officer. "I tried to play it that she's got the hots for Adama," Lawless reveals. "She likes the alpha male, so why not go right for the top? So maybe if I come back, we could see that relationship come to fruition!"

Then again, revisiting the "Xena yell" on the big screen may lay claim to Lawless' time instead — if (and it's a massive if) a considerable legal stalemate can be overcome. "The problem is, nobody knows who owns the rights, strictly speaking," she says with a sigh. "It would be a huge shemozzle to try to sort it out, as it wasn't clear in the initial deal that was drawn up. We could all own [the rights], which would be really nice.

"It would be great to just go ahead and say, 'It doesn't matter, the ownership,' but... it's out of my hands, let's put it that way. I reckon we could tell a really great [Xena] story," she concludes, citing the current climate of empowered women-driven shows and films. "I would love to do it."