Gabrielle Andersons Xena Interview with
Kieren Huchison played "Talus" in the season one episode "Death In Chains" of Xena Warrior Princess, one of the few excellent episodes from season one.Kieren is most known for his role as "Jonathan McKenna" on the popular NZ soap, Shortland Street where he worked with many actors from Xena. He also played "Orpheus" on Young Hercules.
Gabrielle Anderson: Hi Kieren and thank you for doing this interview. You were on Xena it's first season when the show was brand new. What was it like on the set?
Kieren Hutchison: I really didn't know what to expect. I'd heard about Hercules and how it was doing well in the states, but I hadn't actually seen that show either, so I had no frame of reference! I remember being impressed with the costumes and set design - the whole look of the show was not quite what I'd been expecting. I've found it funny in the years since I filmed the episode that the show had become such a phenomenon because I had no idea that it would be.
Gabrielle Anderson: How was it working with Lucy Lawless?
Kieren Hutchison: I really liked her. Again, the show was still new and I didn't have any idea that it was going to have such an impact or that Lucy was going to become an icon, so I didn't have any preconceived notions about her. Like a lot of New Zealanders I was familiar with her from some local shows like Marlin Bay etc. and I always thought she was beautiful! The 1st thing I remember was being surprised that her hair had been dyed black (it was usually light brown) and being impressed that she had her own show and she was doing all these fantastic fight scenes. She was real nice to me and supportive of me as a young, green actor!
Gabrielle Anderson: What was it like working with Renee O'Connor?
Kieren Hutchison: The bulk of the episode was opposite Renee, so I probably got to know her better than Lucy. I remember us hitting it off straight away, she was always a pleasure to be around. I really enjoyed acting opposite of her in the intense farewell scene at the end of the episode, I was impressed at how committed she was to Gabrielle's emotions in that moment. It helped me with where I needed to be, I just had to react to what she was giving me!
Gabrielle Anderson: On the show Shortland Street you worked with actors Danielle Cormack (Ephiny), Marton Csokas (Borias and Khrafstar), Angela Marie Dotchin (Emilia from Jack Of All Trades and Soraya in Tsunami), Meighan Desmond (Discord) and Jennifer Ward-Lealand (Zera in TPTT and Bodacia in The Deliverer and Michael Hurst [Iolaus]'s wife). What was it like working with these fine actors and do you still keep in touch?
Kieren Hutchison: I wasn't actually on the show when Jennifer Ward-Leland was there, though when I was 17 I took an acting class and they [Jennifer and Michael] were teaching at the Hawkes Bay Youth Drama School! I was kind of the 19yr "new kid" and when Marton and Danielle were there our storylines never really met so I actually didn't move much beyond the "Good morning, how are you?" stage with them. I did have more to do with Angie and Meighan though - my character Jonathan corrupted LuLu (Meighan) with drugs and Kirsty (Angie) busted me, so we had a lot of fun! I usually run into both of them a couple times a year at parties and catch up. It's been fascinating to see what everyone's been getting up to as the years go by, I'm proud to have come from the same place as those guys I started out with on Shortland Street, I have a lot of fond memories of those days.
Gabrielle Anderson: Did you meet Rob Tapert? If so, what was he like?
Kieren Hutchison: I have met Rob a couple of times, but only very briefly. In 1998 I actually auditioned for the lead role in Young Hercules and the final stages took place in Los Angeles in front of Rob and a roomful of others. He was very nice to me, shook my hand and wished me luck.
Gabrielle Anderson: Would you ever consider doing Xena again? Do you still keep in touch with Ren Pic?
Kieren Hutchison: Sure I'd like to do another Xena, it'd be fun. Especially after all this time, I could contrast the way things were when I did my 1st episode with how world wide fame has affected things! I'm still in touch with Pacific Renaissance, after auditioning for Young Herc I did three episodes of it as Orpheus and earlier this year played Cleopatra's love interest Johnny on Cleopatra 2525. They've done great things for us here in NZ and their shows are always a blast to do.
Gabrielle Anderson: Do you remember anything silly or unusual happening on the set during the filming?
Kieren Hutchison: Well, I think the part where Lucy and I were in the tunnel and got covered in hundreds of live rats was both silly and unusual! I remember reading that part in the script and thinking - are they really going to do that? And sure enough I turned up to set that day and there were buckets and buckets of rats. Kind of a nice bonding moment with Lucy I guess, it was only the second day of filming or something.
Gabrielle Anderson: Anything else you wanna say before you go?
Kieren Hutchison: It's been fun thinking back to when I shot this episode, thanks for asking me about it. It feels cool to be at least a small part of something that a lot of people obviously like, the interest on the web pages and at the conventions astounds me. I had a great time with the people that I worked with, and I really enjoyed getting reunited with Ray Henwood who played King Sisyphus when he played the resident bad guy Kreel in the show I make a couple of years later, The Legend Of William Tell. I turned 21 during the filming of Xena, I'll always remember it as a nice moment in my career and a real learning experience.