People Online

September 22, 1997

Renee O'Connor, Xena's Gabrielle

chat transcript

On September 22, 1997 PEOPLE Online caught up with Renee O'Connor, the gifted young actress who plays Gabrielle on Xena: Warrior Princess.

Xena: Warrior Princess, the ground-breaking spin-off of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys which begins its third season on September 29, has soared to the top of the television pantheon as the highest-rated series in national syndication. The show - exclusively distributed in national syndication by Universal Television Enterprises - airs on more than 200 stations reaching 99% of the country.

O'Connor plays Xena's spunky traveling companion, Gabrielle. Gabrielle is not your standard issue girl side-kick - she's Xena's reality tester, the one person strong enough to help Xena question the warrior code by which she lives.

Their complex friendship has helped turn Renee O'Connor and co-star Lucy Lawless (Xena) into feminist icons - as well as into two of TV and the Internet's hottest sex symbols. Infoseek lists more than sixty Web sites devoted to the Warrior Princess and her mythological universe. You can check out the official Universal Television Web site by clicking here. So - how did a nice a nice girl from Houston wind up rubbing shoulders with the glitterati of Mount Olympus in Sam Raimi's wildly popular send-off of ancient Greece? You'll have to read the transcript to find out!

"I think the Internet provides a community of interest where people make connections with fans all around the world. Xena owes a lot to the Internet and that remarkable fan base has contributed to our success. The Internet gives voice to our community of supporters."

"The show is just starting to change my life. And people who recognize me have been very polite. I know there is need from the fans to get to know us. That's fine so long as it isn't nasty gossip."

PEOPLE Online: Hi everyone! I'm Patrizia DiLucchio, this is PEOPLE Online on Pathfinder & we're very glad that you could join us tonight - because our guest this evening is actress Renee O'Connor who plays Gabrielle, Xena's spunky traveling companion on the wildly popular series, Xena: Warrior Princess. So - how did a nice girl from Houston wind up rubbing shoulders with the, glitterati of Mount Olympus in Sam Raimi's send-off of ancient Greece? I guess we'll find out tonight!

Hi there, Renee! I know you've done a lot of these cyberchats before. I've heard your mom runs your AOL site (great job, Mom!) Why do you suppose Xena is so amazingly popular on the Internet?

Renee O'Connor: Yes, I've done several chats before. I think the internet provides a community of interest where people make connections with fans all around the world. Xena owes alot to the internet and that remarkable fan base has contributed to our success. The internet gives voice to our community of supporters.

PEOPLE Online: You obviously know how to ask questions - so let's boogie!

Question from Minaccia: Xena's looking for redemption. What's Gabrielle looking for?

Renee O'Connor: I think that Gabrielle is looking for a place of Peace. Unity and Harmony. A world where everybody gets along.

PEOPLE Online: Guys - I've got to tell you that the more questions you submit, the slower the server will be and the more problems that Renee will have typing...

Question from Ruggratt: Will there be any more episodes like A Day in the Life? That was my favorite.

Renee O'Connor: Mine too! The writers are discussing one now for the 3rd season. It gives Lucy and I a chance o play off our comedic silliness.

Question from J_dale: Renee, my name is J'Dale and I have been talking with your mum for a while now, and she seems very nice! I would like to know what has your mum contributed to your career?

Renee O'Connor: Hello there. My mom has always been very supportive of my career interests It's been acting now since I was a wee thing. She encouraged me with acting lessons, dance lessons, etc. And now when I meet new mothers I always try to encourage them to do the same.

Question from Mickim: "Why does your hair color keep changing?

Renee O'Connor: I never know what color it is from day to day. I've been told I'm a red head. I always thought I was a dark blonde! Apparently the red coloring fades. Dirty blonde, that's my natural color!

Question from Kublakhan: Hello Renee, and thank you for chatting with us tonight. I wanted to know, are there any wardrobe changes planned for you this season?

Renee O'Connor: It takes a keen eye to see the wardrobe changes this season. They're not cosmetic, so much as functional. More arm movement, and they've pinned my skirt to my underwaer so I'm less self-conscious.

Question from Sparky600: Renee, hi!! What percentage of the stunts do you do and how many bruises and sore muscles do you end up with ?

Renee O'Connor: I always end up with bruises, but I never know where they come from. And I always do attend the choreography practices--but I must admit I can't pole-vault! Did you notice that the big leap over the logs in The Prodigal was a actually a man?

Question from Zefff: Hi Renee, I'm an Aussie but I'm curious as to how much time you spend in New Zealand and whether you make it to the shores of Australia for some free time ever?

Renee O'Connor: Actually, I went to Australia my first week of winter break. Port Douglas! To visit the Great Barrrier Reef for some snorkeling. I learned that every color on our planet is on some kind of fish or coral!

PEOPLE Online: Here's one from our Message Boards: Hey Renee, I really enjoy you on Xena. I just came from hearing Lucy in New York.My question is Are the Xena Scrolls or the X.R.S.(Xena Restoration Socity) real at all, or are they something the producers came up with.And one last thing, will you ever be on The Rosie O' Donell Show?

Renee O'Connor: I have no knowledge of a Rosie booking but I will be on Vibe on the 25th. You're lucky to have seen Lucy! The Xena scrolls come from Robert Malette, who researched the subject and formed the society.

Question from Sir_mulder: What are your thoughts on the Joxer character? There seems to be much negative fan reaction to him.

Renee O'Connor:Hmmm...I think the fans believe that Gabrielle and Xenia dislike Joxer. That's not true. He actually provides comic relief He can do slapstick! Teddy is a fantastic guy and deserves much credit for Joxer.

Question from Magspw: You've said in the past that you'd like to direct. Can we expect to see a Xena episode directed by you anytime soon? (hopes!)

Renee O'Connor: I don't feel capable of directing an hour long Xena. I watched the work and frustration that goes into an episode and it's more than I can handle now. I'd like to try another venue first. Maybe work in short film.

PEOPLE Online: Another question from the Message Boards: I totally love the show!! I think you're fabulous in it. Just wondering if you actually do all the fight scenes yourself and you know how to use a stick as a weapon? Also, are you and Lucy good friends off camera? One more thing. Are you creative and enjoy storytelling/writing?

Renee O'Connor: Where shall I start? I do fight with a staff. I use a soft stick so no one gets hurt. Lucy is fantastic. She's my best friend on-set. I miss her right now! I used to be a story teller when I was young. 12 or 13. Ghost stories at slumber parties!

Question from Xenaman: Is there any truth to the rumor that you're having a baby on the this season???

Renee O'Connor: If I told you I'd have to kill you...and I know your email address!

Question from Rocolli: Hi Renee! I am here from Austria...Is it true that you said one day that you can speak a little bit German?

Renee O'Connor: Hello from far away...I think you mean Lucy! She speaks German. I think she gossips about us on the set with one of the makeup artists I may need to learn spanish so that I can gossip too.

Question from Lordvader: Renee, do you look at the websites dedicated to you? Renee O'Connor: I haven't seen anything in the last few months. It's hard to follow--there are so many! I mostly make sure the ROC web is accurate and I visit the netforum there ocassionally

Question from Just_truly: Many of the scenes on the show take place out-of-doors. Do you prefer the outside shoots or the indoor shoots?

Renee O'Connor: That depends on the weather. It's cold in New Zealand in the winter, and look at what we wear! Thankfully we now have winter coats! I prefer to be outside in the summer. I like heat, not cold!

Question from Spikus: Thank you for spending your time with us, Renee. Are you going to be able to see Lucy when you're on the East Coast?

Renee O'Connor: I'm going to see her to root her on! Hopefully we'll have some time. The show makes for a gruelling schedule. Mostly I'm enjoying time in New York with friends and family.

Question from Moondancer: Not that we ever want Xena to end, but what type of work would you like to pursue after X:WP - film, tv or would you consider another weekly series?

Renee O'Connor: It's funny that I've thought about that recently...long term plans..." I'm very confused about that. I have to be honest.I would like to get behind the camera!

Question from Fanboy: Renee-there's so much controversy over the Princess Di thing, what's your take on it? Are you and Lucy in any kind of danger now?

PEOPLE Online: I think maybe fanboy's talking about paparazzi.

Renee O'Connor: None that I know of! For me the show is just starting to change my life. And people who regonise me have been very polite I know there is need from the fans to get to know us. That's fine so long as it isn't nasty gossip.

Question from Kenshin: Do you think that the Romans will be a menace as the Borg or Dominion on ST?

Renee O'Connor: Yes...we do battle the Romans this season...but I don't think the theme is reoccurring.

Question from Suszie: Do you find the dialogue for Xena any more or less difficult to learn and execute than what you've worked with in other projects? Also, what is your training -- are you a classically or stage - trained actor, or were you lucky enough to break directly into TV/film?

Renee O'Connor: I think the dialogue in Xena is the easiest thing I've ever done...very contemporary. The only theater experiece I've had was in high school, and in college, in the Cal State system. My strength is television acting. Difficult? Well, sometimes it's hard to break through the wall of privacy I build up!

Question from Rachel2: What does she think of the large amount of fans that think Gabrielle and Xena share more than a campfire at night?

Renee O'Connor: I think one of the best things the show does is give rise to everybody's imagination...You can envision all sorts of possibilities. It's a kind of fantasy land.

Question from Eric: What is your favorite type of music? BTW, thanks for doing this chat!

Renee O'Connor: I usually love solo vocalists...Tina Turner...Sting...Elton John. Right now I'm listing to lots of musicals, getting ready to visit New York....RENT! Wow! And I know it's not cool, but I like Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows very much.

Question from Sebroc: Greetings from the Great White North, ReneE! We all know your favorite type of food is Mexican, but is there a dish in particular you love above all else?

Renee O'Connor: I'd have to say green enchilladas...because I can cook them myself...but my mom taught me to cook, and being from the south I cook for 20 at a time and lots of them end up in the freezer. Ask me again in a month and I may be sick of them.

Question from Cheryl: Which characteristics do you bring from your own personality to the role of Gabrielle, and vice-versa?

Renee O'Connor: Hmmm...Ummm...I think we're both sympathetic. We're both good listeners.

Question from Jenny28: HELLO RENEE is they any special person in your life?

Renee O'Connor: There is...a wonderful man in New Zealand

Question from Michael: Renee, do people recognize you when you walk down the street?

Renee O'Connor: People have just started to do that on this trip to the States. They call me Gabrielle. It's very strange...when I'm running, and all sweaty with my hair tied back!

Question from Iolobuzz: Ms. Renee O'Connor, what advice would you have for someone who is addicted to acting as a hobby? Should I attempt and/or continue this?

Renee O'Connor: If you have a passion for it beyond all else...if it makes you compete...By all means follow it We can all do anything!...cliche, but true.

Question from Spikus: Would you please tell us what book you're presently reading?

Renee O'Connor: Sounds strange...but I'm reading The Tibetian Book Of Living and Dying. It's very enlightening. I got it from another actor on Xena and I had to put it aside for awhile. It's a book that really makes me think. I find it incredibly inspiring. Read it!

Question from Ruthr: What's a day on the set of X:WP like for you?

Renee O'Connor: It's basically a job. One that I love to do. It does start too early early, 5AM, and I'd rather sleep till noon. We begin foilming at 7AM and we work for 12 hours. Much of the days is spent waiting for your scene, or while they set up a shot. Our set is great, it's like a family.

Question from Amandas: Being a fellow Texan I wander, What do you miss most about Texas?

Renee O'Connor: I miss the large cars! Everybody in New Zealand drive small Japanese cars.I'd love to have a big truck And I miss the armadillo roadkill!

Question from Marte: Renee, What do you enjoy most about working on Xena?

Renee O'Connor: Hmmm...enjoy most...there are too many elements to pin that down! The crew...NZ...the writers...and of course the very classy Lucy!

PEOPLE Online: Renee--thank you so much for coming online with us tonight--& thanks to all Xena fans who came too. We had over 400 questions submitted--Renee would have to quit the show and become the poster girl for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in order to answer them all... This is Patrizia DiLucchio for PEOPLE Online on Pathfinder saying - good night, everyone!

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