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Interview with Xenia Seeberg
TV Zone 14 Sep '99 № 119

русский перевод интервью


When the very-weird-by-royal-appointment Sci-Fi show LEXX managed to obtain a large enough following for a second season of 20 episodes to be commissioned, it was announced that one element of the show - love slave/Cluster Lizard pinup Zev, played by Eva Habermann - would not be returning. Due to prior commitments, Habermann was unable to commit to a complete season, and in the second episode Terminal, Zev was reduced to a pile of goo, sacrificing her life to save the rest of the LEXX crew.

As luck would have it, the plant-woman Lyekka boarded the LEXX in the next episode, and managed to reform from that self-same goo a slightly different-looking woman calling herself Xev, now played by Xenia Seeberg. Looking rather different to her screen character (she's got long blonde hair, for one), Seeberg was happy to tell TVZone how she got involved in the wonder that is LEXX.

"First of all, I didn't know that they had to replace anybody, but Paul Donovan, the inventor and writer, somehow got a tape of mine. I did a movie, a short movie with a young American director, and that had a similar sense of humour, a very dark and strange, wacky kind of humour, and he saw that tape, and then he somehow figured out where I was. So he contacted me and said, 'Well, Xenia, we're doing this show here in Canada, d'you wanna have a look at it and tell me what you think about it, if you like it.' I watched the first four movies, and thought, 'Yeah, that's actually pretty interesting,' and then he gave me one of the new episodes to read, and I actually liked it very much when I read it too. So I thought, 'Yeah, that's actually something that doesn't exist so far.' It was supposed to be a Science Fiction series, but I could tell right away that [LEXX is] not your usual Science Fiction series."

Seeberg points out that she's not a big Sci-Fi fan, although she does admit that "There's always movies that I liked a lot, like the first Star Wars and Blade Runner. LEXX to me actually appears like a cross between Alien, Barbarella and Monty Python. What I could tell was that here was somebody with a very creative mind, who was just trying to break free from all those American standards that you find in other Sci-Fi series."

Despite Paul Donovan approaching her, Seeberg still had to audition for the role of Xev. However, as per LEXX tradition, it wasn't quite normal..."I had an audition at the airport in New York," laughs Seeberg, "because I told Paul Donovan after he called me, 'There's only one chance to meet me and that's there, and I have one-and-a-half hours stay-over. D'you wanna do that?'and he said, 'Yeah.' So he flew in from Halifax. I was coming from Los Angeles, and we met there. My plane was delayed so we had only half an hour, but it worked out!"

The audition was unsurprisingly simple, given this time limit. "We both just exchanged what we had in mind," explains Seeberg. "He told me his idea about how the character should develop and I told him the way I would want to move on with it. I always said there's no point in just trying to copy what Eva did. I mean, I'll take her history, yes, like being transformed into a love slave and partly Cluster Lizard. But other than that, I wanna make her a little more edgy too, but also give her more real human feelings, and not just have the main aspect on being a love slave. That's part of her nature, but not all. That's interesting for a while, but if that's all it is about, it gets boring after a while, so you need different aspects, a nicer variety of character aspects."

Before the goo stage of course, Zev was a wife who had refused to perform her wifely duties. As such, she was sentenced to be made into a love slave, with a perfect body and a desire to obey her master's every whim. When the process went wrong, Zev got the body, but also obtained some Cluster Lizard DNA and a hyperactive love slave libido. Seeberg finds that this aspect of her character is the one she gets asked about most often.

"I recently got this question, 'So, are you nymphomaniac in real life as well?' I said, 'Can't you tell I'm jumping at you right away? You look so good! Let me have you!' I don't think I'm like Xev. I probably have a strange kind of humour in real life too, but I guess that's pretty much the only thing we have in common. Everything else is fake. Even the hair colour's fake!" There's a very strong sexual content to LEXX, but to date actual sex scenes have been shied away from. "Exactly," agrees Seeberg. "It's not so sexual as it pretends. We're all big pretenders. And we love talking aboutthings. Look at how much nudity you actually see on regular tv. I don't know about English tv, but in Germany, definitely. Every show after seven o'clock at night, makes sure there's nudity! It's a lot about [the LEXX crew's] fantasies, and what makes us very different and special from other series characters is that we're the total anti-heroes, we're no heroes at all. We're never saving the universe, a nice planet, people. We're basically just saving our own asses."

A lot of the time, Xev is saving her no doubt perfectly-formed posterior from computer generated monsters. How does Seeberg get on with the high level of special effects? "Well, as far as I know, there were even more in the first four movies, and it's pretty balanced now, maybe 50150 now. It's not that hard. In the beginning it was because it's always more like working on stage, y'know, fighting green monsters, or fighting a green card box, imagining it's a horrible monster. You have to use your imagination more than if you have something real there, but you get used to it easily." Speaking of stage work brings us nicely the show's undoubted highlights: the musical episode Brigadoom, in which after much time lusting after reanimated assassin Kai, Xev gets a chance to play the part of his lover in a play of his life. The fact that the episode came off so well is a testament to a combination of pigheadedness and determination, says Seeberg.

"We all were really afraid doing the musical, because everyone told us 'You'll never make it, that will be a terrible disaster, you guys trying to do a musical for a Sci-Fi series in one week, come on!' Well, we did it anyway and we liked doing it. I enjoy singing; so does Michael [McManus,Kai]. Although I wouldn't really call myself a professional singer, I had some records out in Germany, but they never made it across the water. We enjoyed it; it was difficult, but playing it was fun.

Asked if she'd like to do something like that again, Seeberg believes that: "We'll do something strange like that, but I'm not sure we'll do another musical. We'll have to find a reason for that. But it was a great escape from the regular thing. Actually a lot of people said, even people who usually hate musicals, they were like 'Yeah, I was sceptical, but when I watched it, I have to admit I liked it, although I don't like to admit it but I liked it,' Most people liked the fact that finally at least, Xev, but not really Xev gets closer to Kai."

Trying to pin down some information about what is to come in the 13-episode next season in relation to Kai or just generally results in Seeberg remaining steadfastly tight-lipped, however. "There might be more romance, but there will be unexpected things because the concept will change quite a bit. I don't know much yet, and I probably shouldn't reveal too much, but I can say that it will be more like a continuous ongoing story and the emphasis will not all be separate, which makes sense because sometimes you need more than 45 minutes to tell a very interesting story. Sometimes that gets hard, and that's actually where you feel the limitations of doing a series as opposed to doing a movie, so therefore we thought, 'Well, I guess that might be interesting, to let them run into each other'. Maybe not from the very beginning to episode 13 though."

From talking to some of the other LEXX cast, it is evident that each of the three leads has some input into their character. Starting on the show part-way into the season, Seeberg discovered that: "Some of the episodes were already written when I came to the show. And therefore, [Xev] had a bigger part on some episodes, but dialogue-wise, it was still limited. What I heard was that the level of dialogue will increase a little bit [next season]. I was asking for [her to] be a little weirder."

Obviously Seeberg isn't going to reveal any more, so moving back to the last season, which episodes did she enjoy particularly? "The musical," she laughs, unhelpfully, before continuing, "besides the musical...that's always a tough question. I enjoyed Twilight. [In which the LEXX crew visit a planet of zombies trying to eat the locals and Xev is bitten.] I enjoyed jumping into the zombie character. I also enjoyed jumping into a male. [In Love Grows, which sees Stan and Xev's sexual organs reversed.] Yeah, but I liked it.' Most people probably liked I've been a male, that's strange. I wonder what that comes from? Maybe that's part of my nature."

Lafftrak is another show predominantly about Xev. "Lafftrak was actually my very first one, and therefore when I watch it I can tell I'm still insecure, and I was trying to make things right, but I didn't really know what they expected, and I was a little bit shy, although that's an episode where I was not at all supposed to be shy! That was an episode that was very hard to do, to make it work. The whole concept of Lafftrak, making fun of tv shows, I don't know anything like that on tv just concept-wise, but I liked it."

During the course of the tv movies and its one season, LEXX has gained quite a fan following, and many of them like to follow Xev in particular, sometimes a little too closely. Seeberg has encountered fans before. "Yeah, but not for this show. I did three movies and I did another series before LEXX. I could get out of the contract early, to start LEXX; I also did tv movies. I think in Germany they know you from a series much better than they know you for one feature movie. The major part of the public will definitely know you from a series, and I had all that. It's nice if people appreciate your work. I think in England, people are more relaxed about seeing actors and musicians, but in Germany they pretty much jump at you when they recognize you. And I'm not talking about teenagers; when I'm walking through the city when it's daytime, it's usually teenagers who come and ask for autographs, and older women, but that will change once LEXX starts airing. At night, it's usually male humans out there, and I'm actually very shy. You wouldn't believe this; I'm open-minded, but I'm still pretty shy. I'm not a nymphomaniac... and therefore I don't go out much. I don't go and party a lot; I don't go to bars and clubs. Usually I like small places or private parties."

As this particular party comes to a close, there's just time to ask Xenia Seeberg if she can sum up her hopes for Xev's future. Apparently, it doesn't really matter, as long as it's not too normal." It seems there will be plenty more surprises to come.

Paul Spragg

© LEXX - LIGHT ZONE апрель 2006 HELEN & Trulyalyana

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