Spartacus (Bravo, Tuesdays, 10pm) star Lucy Lawless talks fights, fitness and oddball fans…

Tell us about your Spartacus character, Lucretia
“She is a survivor and willing to do whatever it takes. She’s sexually passionate and longing for a child. She’s a kind of Lady Macbeth character.”

Is it frustrating watching the gladiators do all the fighting in Spartacus after all your years playing Xena?
“No, I am so happy I don’t have to do that stunt fighting. I hate all that stuff.”

So you didn’t have to hit the gym before filming?
“Are you kidding? I spend time naked on screen so I had to get a trainer. But it’s Ancient Rome. It’s not like they were popping off to the gym every two seconds; my character didn’t have to be ripped.”

How do you feel about the show’s raunchy sex scenes?
“I’ve found some of the sex things Lucretia does hard to shake off. Also, my husband is the show’s executive producer, so that could have been awkward, but he didn’t hang around on those days.”

John Hannah plays your screen husband. What is he like to work with?
“John is a wonderful man and a great anchor for the show. Getting my kit off was so stressful and I couldn’t have a better partner than John.”

You’ve moved back to your native New Zealand to make the series. How has that been?
“I was a bit nervous about coming home because it felt like that’s what you do when you retire. But my kids’ lifestyle is a lot freer here and they can have a good old-fashioned childhood. We’re back living in Auckland and we’ve all had sailing lessons.”

Do your sons like having an action hero mum?
“The boys have no curiosity about my job. I might as well work in a bank.”

Are you still getting much attention from Xena fans?
“Yes, they’re wonderful. They are loyal and they stick with you. I loved that role and I would love to go back to playing Xena one day.”

What’s been your strangest fan experience?
“I’ve signed people’s arms and they have run off to the tattoo shop and had my signature tattooed. Then they come back to show me and I think, ‘Why did you do that?’ Also, a guy in a wet raincoat asked me to sign his axe once. I was a bit creeped out by that.”