01/27/2012 02:06 pm ET

Lucy Lawless On 'Spartacus: Vengeance': 'The Audience Will Not Be Bored'

Lucy Lawless has kicked her fair share of butt on the small screen, and that's not about to change anytime soon. The New Zealand native reprises her role as Lucretia when "Spartacus: Vengeance" returns Jan. 27 on Starz.

Lawless, who became an international star thanks to her iconic role on "Xena: Warrior Princess," chatted with The Huffington Post about returning to work in the wake of "Spartacus" star Andy Whitfield's death and why she's often cast in badass roles.

What can we expect this season on "Spartacus"?
We're going to exalt some people, and some people -- formerly high-born -- are going to be dragged through the mud. I have shot things this season that I've never, ever seen on TV before and that seems to be a hallmark of this show -- plenty of "Oh my God" moments. It's not an escalation, it's an evolution. Things are just as terrible and just as fabulous in a completely different way. The audience will not be bored.

Was it bittersweet returning after Andy Whitfield's death?
There was a collective sigh from everybody on the first day, acknowledging the changing of the guard I suppose, and then everybody rolled up their sleeves and got on with making the show that we know the fans want to see, because this is a show made for fans. We might not ever get a Golden Globe, but the fans know that everything is targeted at their enjoyment; we're giving them a rich experience.

Why do you think you often get cast in adventurous, tough girl roles?
You tell me! I've got to tell you -- I've never chosen anything, everything chooses me, I just sort of ... go along with the flow. My mission is always to bring humanity to supposedly bad characters -- to show their capacity for love -- and I will make you invest in her journey whether you want to or not. My fondest desire would be to make you love her. I always cringe when people call us "villains" because I absolutely do not see it that way. I have tried to portray Lucretia as having made these terrible choices because she had no other choice. This is the only avenue available to her and most of the wretched things that she participated in in the first season were ideas that her husband devised and, as the dutiful wife, she had to go along with what he said.

So it wasn't Lucretia's fault at all.
Well, it's never her fault darling! Lucretia, once upon a time, had an unlimited capacity for love and decency and wanted to protect her slaves. She was good to them and we just see her worn down and corrupted by a toxic society.

Between Lucretia and Xena, you've had some major ass-kicking roles. Do you think you could kick some butt in real life?
I’ve often thought there would be a great headline -- some poor fool tries to take on the artist formerly known as "Xena." I'm not sure I would be able to do it, but I'm hoping I would.

You have a fairly large lesbian fan base. Who's a bigger lesbian icon, you or Rosie O’Donnell? You have to be Top 5, easy.
That's very nice, but who am I to say? Rosie O'Donnell is more than an icon. I mean, she is a living exponent.

How many lesbian fans have tried to get you to switch teams?
(Laughs) The great thing about my fans, lesbians or not, is they don't come on heavy-handed around me; they get too nervous around me. Their eyes go from left to right and they can't even look at me.