Interviews Renee O'Connor
Interviewed by MaryD - 15 December 2011
Exclusive Interview with Xena star Renee O'Connor
AUSXIP has the pleasure of interviewing Renee in April 2008 and now we catch up with Renee in time for AUSXIP's 15th Anniversary. Since Xena ended it's 6 year run over 10 years ago, Renee has been very busy in continuing to act, direct and produce her own short films and movies, create a web presence by interacting with fans with video presentations and other media. Renee has taken time out of her very busy schedule to talk to us about the Last Xena Convention in January 2012, her creation of ROC Pictures, her movies Words Unspoken and Infinity, her involvement with the I Am Aware seminars and what habit she really can't break!
AUSXIP:. The very last Xena Convention is coming up in January 2012, what are your thoughts on the convention being the very last one?
RENEE: I am excited! It is a grand weekend, with anticipation and high emotions rolling around already. I love knowing when it is time for a natural closure to happen and this one feels right. The Xenaverse will always be there.
AUSXIP:. In 2004 you appeared at a Xena Convention and wore Gabrielleís much loved BGSB (Billious Green Sports Bra) and brown skirt and recently in your 5 Ways video. Can we expect a return of this outfit for one final time?
RENEE: Hmmm, who knows?
AUSXIP:. Itís been over 10 years since Xena ended and you have gone on to act and create other roles from sci fil to very dramatic and intense roles such as Infinity and Words Unspoken. Have you always wanted to be in creative control and how has that influenced the projects you undertake with ROC Pictures?
RENEE: No, I don't think I started to want to have an active part in the creative control until the second time I directed on Xena. I knew then that the ability to share a story moves deeper as you begin to see it from all the angles. I want to tell stories that I enjoy. You know, ones without aliens. I like to laugh, to cry and to feel alive. These are the stories I create and develop for myself.
AUSXIP. What motivated you to be the one to tell the story rather than be the one to bring the character to life?
RENEE: It goes in both directions. I love to be an actor, and I don't feel I have to set that aside to produce or to direct a film. It all depends on what serves the project, leaving my Ego by the roadside.
AUSXIP: I was in the audience when Unspoken Words was shown at the Xena Convention and the reaction from the fans; the in-depth discussions was extremely emotional and quite moving. The emotional level in that room was something I had never seen before at a convention; it was raw and very real. What were you thinking as people expressed themselves so honestly and openly?
RENEE: From what I can remember, it felt as real and honest as the time when I was onstage for the 'one woman show' I put up for everyone at a previous convention. I always appreciate when people can open their hearts to relate to the characters they see come to life, and that does not always mean they have to be crying!
AUSXIP. For many in that room, their past (whether they were abused or knew someone who was abused) coloured how they saw that film. For you personally was this a movie about forgiveness or was it this a movie about the continuation of the abuse from the father to the son?
RENEE: I wanted to make a film about forgiveness. I appreciate that people see it differently, and I think a good piece should stir up a discussion. In any case, people do feel for these characters. They will see the story from the perspectives of each character, and I think that is important.
AUSXIP: One of the goals of any writer/director is to make people feel and think about the work they have created. During the 2011 Xena
Convention you showcased your new movie Infinity with itís very powerful message about returning soldiers and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The reaction from the audience was one of shock. Do you think Infinity shocked allot of fans because of the subject or the fact that the ending was horrific for your character?
RENEE: I think the piece itself is disturbing, because it is a series of unfortunate events that could have been avoided. I feel some of the most haunting moments of our lives are when we should have acted when our hearts spoke to us, and yet we ignored the warning signs. PTSD is a complicated, very sad situation, yet I don't feel it has been given its due respect in terms of how to discover the symptoms in the early stages.
AUSXIP. What message did you want to leave your audience after they saw that movie?
RENEE: I would like for people to pay closer attention to their friends and loved ones who have been through traumatic events.
AUSXIP: When you started out what were your expectations for your career?
RENEE: I did not even think about it. I knew I wanted to act professionally and I always felt grateful when I had opportunities to work with people I admired. I still feel this way.
AUSXIP: You've worked in film, television, and have done theatre. Is there one that you enjoy more than another, or do you just enjoy the variety?
RENEE: I do not resonate with the theater right now, and I am sure it is because I am not in that environment anymore. I am immersed in film and 'television' or internet-vision. Yes, I made up that word.
AUSXIP:. When actors talk about working on stage compared to film or television. It's normally about the differences of what it gives them or
teaches them. What are your thoughts about stage work? What does being in front of a theater audience give you or taught you?
RENEE: There are moments when you are acting when you have no separation from the character, and of course the goal is to have that all the time. I think it may be easier on some levels to do the theater because you can sustain this feeling longer without breaking in and out. I love these heightened moments in any capacity I can get them. Now, it does not only have to be while I am 'acting'. That's cool!
AUSXIP. Of all the things that have happened to you professionally, what moments stand out for you and why?
RENEE: Too many to count. I feel very fortunate, and it ain't over yet.
AUSXIP: How did you get involved with the Rocamora School?
RENEE: I met Mary Rocamora through a mutual friend and fell 'in love' with the way she moves in the world. I wanted some of that special sumthin-sumthin! She started to teach me more about the depth of humanity than I ever thought I could feel and know to be. If it were not for Mary Rocamora, I would not be the artist I am today. I would not have made Words Unspoken, nor played with my sense of humour with the 5ways.tv website, nor thought it possible to have a production company, nor actively participated in sharing her Awareness work with my
AUSXIP: Can you tell us about the I Am Aware seminars and what motivated you to be a part of it?
RENEE: What motivated me was how much Mary's work has changed my life and feeling the desire to place the kernels in the field for harvesting season. :)I think the websites speak more clearly about the work: www.rocamora.org, and www.iAmAware.info
AUSXIP: What's the habit you're proudest of breaking?
RENEE: I would like to stop picking at my nails, yet I am sad to say I may never break this nasty habit. Ted Raimi would watch me pick away for hours throughout the day, and now, My Jed gets to be surrounded by the constant, dull clicking away as I seem to be compelled to keep alive.
Thanks to Renee for the interview! Renee will next be seen in the upcoming movie Beyond The Farthest Star which she stars as Maureen Wells. In January Renee is at the 2012 Xena Convention in Burbank, California for the Final Journey Convention where she will be appearing on stage and also doing Photo Ops and signing autographs with fans.
PREVIOUS AUSXIP INTERVIEWS WITH RENEE
26 April 2008 - Renee once again agreed to be interviewed by Christa (and KT this time) at Southern California Firefighters Burn Relay which was held in Los Angeles on 26 April 2008.
▪ Full Interview
28 April 2007 - Renee was gracious enough to give AUSXIP reporter Christa and her sidekick Ruth a video interview for the site. It's a wide ranging interview covering a great many topics including working on Boogeyman, Ghost Town, her thoughts on her co-workers over the years in various movies and some stories. Her thoughts about living in New Zealand, what Xena taught her and other topics.
▪ Full Interview
AUSXIP Renee Links
- Official Renee O'Connor Site