An Eve With Adrienne - Part III

An Eve With Adrienne - Part III

Aug 11, 2000 - © Josh Harrison

Welcome back for the conclusion of my interview with Adrienne Wilkinson! Last week I wrapped up asking her how much response she had received from her work on Xena.

So professionally you haven't gotten a lot of feedback yet?

It's funny how the industry works -- it's so unpredictable. Professionally, it's been sort of an interesting response because the way that I find the industry works, it's not so much what you've done, it's the amount you've done. Instead of people seeming incredibly interested, or at least admitting to being incredibly interested about it being Xena, it's been, "You're on one of the biggest shows."

The response actually comes more from the audience than it does from the show itself - they're very interested that so many people are able to see me in so many different parts of the world.

It increases your marketability?

Yeah, exactly. That's what's changed - just the amount of people that have been able to see me.

The character is so intense, and is so unlike myself when I walk into a room -- it's actually wonderful. I am having the best time because it's been some really interesting footage to add to my reel. Just to see the reaction that people get when they see me - it's amazing. Livia is so "in your face"; she's huge and right there. It's great to be able to show a completely different character to people. It's been a very positive thing for me.

Because of the reaction - and this being really the first major credits on your resume - are you afraid of being typecast as a science fiction or action actress?

It's funny you should ask that. Generally speaking, no, just because I have surrounded myself with representation that has an idea of where we're going -- Xena has been a fantastic thing to add to my credits. We're certainly not opposed to the genre - there are fantastic shows out there.

It has been fun for the time that I've done it, but it is a little bit scary to think of spending my entire career in sci-fi, simply because it's not my favorite genre. It isn't what I'm actually attracted to. I have noticed that because Xena, by being successful, has given permission for other people to try shows like this. Maybe I just have heightened senses right now, but I've noticed a lot of shows this past year are falling into that genre - not even necessarily sci-fi.

It goes back to that whole thing of just believing that I will be led to wherever I'm meant to be. Either I will find a character I'll fall in love with - and hopefully be perfect for -- that isn't sci-fi, or maybe it'll be somewhere else.

I don't know - that's an interesting question to present to me right now, because the last handful of things I've auditioned for have all been sci-fi type shows. I've actually been thinking about that the past few days.

I'm a big fan of science fiction - long before Xena came along, in fact. It's been my favorite ever since I read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings years and years ago.

Isn't that the best?

It's fantastic - speaking of which, did you run into any of the people down there who are working on the movie?

No. I had a friend that came down to visit while I was there, and she was on the plane with Liv Tyler [who plays Arwen] , but I haven't run into anyone. Actually, though, a lot of the people who work on Xena were working on Lord of the Rings during hiatus. Costumes, extras, stunt work, that sort of thing.

Right now, that's probably the only thing that could get me to miss an episode of Xena.

I hear you. I'm excited to see them too, actually. I saw some stills of things that they've done, costuming and so forth. I'm really excited to see the finished product.

So what's in the future for you? I understand you don't have hard and fast plans, but are there a couple of projects you're looking at after this Xena, shoot?

Ideally - knowing, of course, that I only have so much control over what happens - a personal goal of mine is to focus on getting a really nice feature credit this year. Even if it were only the smallest of roles, just being able to break into that would be great. I would say that eighty-five percent of my credits have been TV oriented. I really want to break into something new.

It's like everything else in the community. If people enjoyed working with you, or enjoyed the work you did on a show, they recommend you for other shows or anything else they happen to be involved in. It's the same thing with film - there's tons of crossover between TV and film, but in general most people that work behind the scenes choose one or the other.

There are also a lot of brilliant shows on TV right now that I'd love to go up for. It is an interesting turn the industry is taking this year. It's very positive, because I see the industry doing more mature shows than even a year ago. I'm not sure how that's going to affect me this coming year, or if it will even be noticeable. Last year there were so many teen dramas where I was right on the edge - it was like, "Am I perfect, or am I too old for this." I mean, I could be perfect for it right now, but if it gets picked up, I can't really play high school for four years.

A big part of it is figuring out exactly where I need to be, how my image is accepted right now - what age people see me as.

That's actually something that's been interesting about working on Xena -- technically now I'm twenty-six and change on the show. It's been interesting to be that old, to be that mature and have that much power. But now that I'm Eve, I've accepted my mother and I no longer have that power because I'm giving it all to her. That makes sense, of course, since it's Xena.

But it makes it interesting because I feel my character has always been played as a petulant teenager. But even now that I'm Eve, I feel much younger than the literal age of the character. But knowing that people accept me at a minimum as twenty-six - it's now figuring out exactly what that means in terms of my image and career.

There's nothing wrong with twenty-six.

Not at all!

I'm almost twenty-six, myself.

[Laughs] Twenty-six is a beautiful age!

There are some mornings I don't feel that way.

[Laughs] It really has been interesting though, especially in Hollywood over the past year or so with the mass production of so many teen dramas. Everyone and their brother are trying to play younger than they really are. The role I have the most notoriety for presents me as being older than I am, so I wonder how that affects how people see me. Do they automatically assume I'm older - that I play older, or that I'm not believable younger.

It's impossible to read. Everyone has a different opinion, but it is something I wonder about.

Have you observed a lot of that kind of age discrimination? There's been a lot of buzz in the entertainment news about how you'll have people like Harrison Ford or Michael Douglas - guys in their forties or fifties and upward - who are playing romantic leads opposite women in their mid twenties. There's this huge age difference, and it's hard for wonderful actresses who are older - but still incredible - to get parts because of this need to have young, beautiful... things.

Have I witnessed it? Absolutely. I have never been up for a role where the age difference has been that drastic. I was up for movies-of-the-week a couple years ago where they were doing the college girl who's dating her best friend's father or something goofy like that.

Personally, I'm not quite old enough to be dealing with that specifically, but I have witnessed it in all sorts of different ways. Age is such a sensitive thing in Hollywood. Even for me with all of the teen dramas in the last couple of years. It used to be that everyone wanted eighteen to play younger, because when you're eighteen they can basically work you any kind of hours they want - it's regulated before then.

But the big change in Hollywood is that now there are lots of younger actors that are completely emancipated - they don't have to worry about the hours. The big thing now is they want it to be specific; if the role is fifteen, they want a fourteen or fifteen year old person in that role. The breakdown of the character will be very specific; it will say "we will not see anyone over eighteen."

Seeing how the profession is being an actor, that's an interesting thing, because if you are believable in the part it seems silly. It's just something the industry is going through, and I think to a certain extent Hollywood just goes through phases. Right now it is obvious there are tons of older leading men with younger leading women. Sometimes it's almost a little bit ludicrous.

I was actually offended when I saw an ad for that new movie with Richard Gere and Winona Rider. I saw that and nearly threw something at the TV I was so enraged. I mean, Winona Rider was the girl in all the movies while I was in high school and everything. Winona Rider should not be in a love story with Richard Gere - he's my dad's age for crying out loud!

Exactly, it doesn't make any sense on a lot of levels. The sad thing is, most of the women in Hollywood - of any age - are fabulous. The fact that they aren't being shown as fabulous - for whatever reason - it honestly just doesn't make sense. Looking at people like Goldie Hawn and Sela Ward - all of these fabulous people that look amazing, and are amazing - who simply aren't getting the opportunities that are as interesting.

But, it works the opposite way as well. There's something - I hate to say gross, because that just sounds condescending - but there's something not terribly appealing for women when all the roles show them with these men who are father figures.

Like everything else, though, I think anything you have control over you take control of - you do something about it. Anything that I was involved in I'd start getting opinionated. But the parts I don't have control over? Like everything else, you realize that Hollywood goes through phases and much as it might be unpleasant, it goes through phases and it will move on to something else. Like in the eighties we had all these crazy action movies, and now we have all these paranormal films coming out. Anything that is successful is imitated.

It's interesting to watch what people react to, and how they react to it.

Which performer - actor or actress, it doesn't matter - would you choose as your idol at the moment?

That's a truly hard one. I'm one of those people who fall in love with people on film based on the movie they're doing at the time - whatever I've just seen them in.

So then most recently, who's impressed you?

Most recently? [Thinks for a moment] Gosh, there are a thousand of them! You're killing me!

I'll give you a great example. My favorite movie of last year was Elizabeth. What would I not give to be able to work with... help me out here.

Cate Blanchett?

Yes. Absolutely. It was a shockingly beautiful performance.

At the same time, the people you want to work with the most are usually the ones that scare you to death. Who doesn't want to work with any of the greats - if not all of them, given the opportunity? That's also a little bit scary, knowing that you have to be on your game. It makes it more fun - working with people that know what they're doing. It is the most fun you can have because it raises the stakes, but it's also the most challenging.

Did you feel that way working with Lucy and Renee the first time? Was it intimidating, or did they make it easy for you?

The set was incredibly easy, just because of everyone's attitude. Everybody was so incredibly helpful; it wasn't intimidating in that way.

What was intimidating was how good they are at what they do - without having to try anymore. Not that they aren't putting the effort in, they just know their characters so well that they don't need any rehearsal time. They improvise all the time, and generally improv is the cardinal sin in acting. Normally the writers are right there watching you, and you'd better not mess up at all.

The first day on set people were changing entire scenes, adding scenes, and cutting scenes. I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" I didn't work with Ted [Raimi] directly until the second episode, but I heard from Greg Lee - who plays Virgil - that Ted is a master of improv. In the first episode "Livia", Greg worked almost exclusively with the three of them and almost every scene was with Ted. He said working with Ted was shocking - the first day Greg didn't even know when his dialogue came in because they kept changing every single thing he was expecting.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Ted. I think he's one of the most underrated actors in the industry today. I defend him whenever I get the chance, because he gets so much grief from fans who don't like Joxer.

I know that because he isn't Xena or Gabrielle, when a show runs over a lot of his scenes traditionally get cut - that's just the way it goes.

Every time I've worked with Ted - or been there when Ted has been working - it's really shocking because he is so good at what he does. He comes up with things off the top of his head that you don't believe he spent any time thinking about. He really just came up with them at a moment's notice. Then if one thing doesn't work, he'd have another, and another. You start to think, "oh my gosh, I don't know if I can keep up with this."

You're right though he is absolutely fantastic. That was, by far, the most intimidating part of the show. Going along with that was a feeling that, even though they gave you permission, it was really hard to change anything during the table reads.

It's really hard to break those lessons once you've learned them.

Absolutely. There's only one thing that I changed in my first visit there, and I'm so grateful to this day that I did. Ares and I had this relationship that falls apart. Then, in "Motherhood" is the first time I've seen him since my redemption. I have some line to him - basically I yell, "Why should she trust you."

They had absolutely nothing written for me as a reaction when I see him, and that just killed me. I fought for that - it ended up that there wasn't enough time to add anything but one line, but it made such a difference to me because there was no closure to that. It didn't make sense for me to have absolutely no reaction when I see this guy that I not only had a relationship with, but was also a mentor to me.

And he was the freakin' God of War!

[Laughs] Exactly! It was the weirdest thing to me. What's really funny is that nobody noticed until I brought it up, and then they were like, "Oh my gosh, that's true."

That happens a hundred times on the show per episode, just because the show has so many tiny details they want to stay true to. It's really hard to remember them all, and they want to make sure that it's consistent with previous episodes...

[Laughs] I'm sorry, I have to laugh at that because I know several fans that would dispute that claim tremendously. Consistency is supposedly something that doesn't exist in the show at all.

[Laughs] I'm not the one to actually say that they're not, but I should say they do make the attempt. Maybe they've just bitten off more than they can chew sometimes. I know there are so many things whether it's religion, or mythology, or history - fact or fiction - there are tons of things they have to blend together.

They certainly do their homework. I recognize that. There's a big question now though, because at the end of "Motherhood" Ares gives up his divinity to bring you and Gabrielle back to life - so now he's a regular, mortal guy. There are two or three episodes earlier in the series that have Ares and Xena squaring off in the future - like The Xena Scrolls from the second season where Ares is released from a tomb in Mesopotamia in 1941.

A lot of fans are wondering what they're going to do, because if they don't resolve this by the end of the series, they'll have this huge continuity gaffe. I'm sure Rob and the rest of them are well aware of that, but it doesn't prevent us from obsessing in the off-season.

There are lots of details and trivia. I had no idea about that - it does make it interesting. I haven't filmed anything with Kevin [Smith] since then, so I have no idea what's going on with his storyline.

I know he is in a couple of episodes.

Yeah, actually, I've heard he's going to be in the one I'm going down for next week, but I'm not positive.

One more question - this is actually an easy one to close off with. Having been involved in the series during the end of its run, and not really being too familiar with it before then, what do you think is the secret of the show's success?

One hundred percent pure entertainment. It's just entertaining with all the fighting, and the different relationships and references - historical or whatever - it's a great mix. It reaches out to such a wide variety of people. It all comes down to the basic good versus evil, but it's presented in such a fun and entertaining way. All the details, like the costumes and amazing locations in New Zealand, to how easy it is to relate to Gabrielle or to see Xena as the hero.

The casting has been a blessing for the show - it's perfect as far as I can tell, but all the details. The sense of humor that the show has about itself, but also how seriously it takes the job. Then there's a ton of action that's just really fun. That can't hurt either.

Thanks again for doing this, it was really wonderful talking to you.

No, thank you, you've been the sweetest. You had so many interesting questions.

I tried to cover areas that hadn't been beaten to death, and it was really fascinating talking about your craft, and the industry, and all the rest of it. I hope the fans get some insight into things they don't think about as much.

That's true, out of all of it the best part is getting to do something you love, and giving people an idea of why it is so interesting. Because there's so much publicity on this show - any show, really - people think we do it for the publicity. The reality is the ones that really love it are the ones trying to make something that is worth watching. Sometimes that gets forgotten, and there are so many people that love what they're doing that even if there weren't all the accolades to go along with it, they'd do it purely for the love of their craft.

Well thanks again for sharing some of that love with us, and I hope to see you at a convention sometime in the near future.

That would be great, I'd love to!

Well, that wraps it up for my interview with Adrienne! I hope you enjoyed it, because I certainly did!

Once again, I'd like to thank both Adrienne and Shawna Pedego (of for helping set this up, and for the use of the images on her website. They are both wonderful people, and I hope you take the time to pay them a visit!

I wish Adrienne the best of luck in her career, and look forward to seeing her in the upcoming season!

That does it for this week -- get those contest entries in, and come back next week for a new article! Until then, battle on!