It’s not every day that you get to fan-girl out. However this month I was able to do just that…
When preparing for this July’s issue, I thought back to my early years. As a teen I was fond of Trash Culture, schlocky Sci-Fi and an array of B-grade productions. Hours were spent trawling late night cable channels for the weird and wacky.
It so happened one night I stumbled upon a Canadian-German production called LEXX. Originally written as a set of four films (also viewed as season one), the premise involved a crew of misfits: a cowardly captain, an undead assassin and a nymphomaniac banished into a dark and dangerous part of outer space. Oh yes and the LEXX was itself the name of their ultra-powerful, living but very dumb spacecraft. It was fun, risqué and quickly built a cult following.
Fast-forward over ten years and what better way to launch our Trash Issue than with an interview with one of the show’s stars.
Barely out of her teens, German-born Eva Habermann shot to fame playing Zev Bellringer. Having been taken from her planet, her libido augmented and her body zapped into “perfection”, Zev escaped and joined the crew of the LEXX. Therein begins what would launch four movies and three seasons of a show.
Zev’s appeal was born from both her girl-next-door and interstellar sex kitten qualities, which brought fans coming back for more. I caught up with the charming Eva to talk about LEXX’s success, her status as cult icon and plans for the future.
How did you find out about the role of Zev?
It was really interesting because I had been in another Sci-Fi show and the guy who was doing publicity for it gave my picture to the producers of LEXX when they were coming to Germany for location scouting. They had seen it and said I was perfect for the role but what they didn’t know was that I had left my agent and I was also hosting a children’s show at the time. So the producers contacted my agent and said they needed my contact details. My agent replied that I had stopped acting! So they tried to find out my private number and invited me to the audition. They had auditioned actors in four different cities and weren’t sure if the role of Zev would be German or Canadian. So I actually got to the casting through a lot of obstacles.
Tell us about your casting experience…
So what happened was that in Hamburg they auditioned me. There were a lot, a lot, a lot of people there.
I walked into the room and the casting agent said to me “WOW! It is YOU! You don’t even have to say anything. You are Zev!”
I said, “Well I still have to audition for it!” It was very funny to walk into a room and have that reaction without you opening your mouth. But that was very encouraging. I auditioned and he said to me that there was going to be a final audition in Canada. There I met Michael [McManus] who played Kai. I remember in the evening Paul [Donovan, Co-Creator] and I were walking and he said to me “Well, we have this one problem…You have to get baby-blue hair.” I replied “Wig?” And he said a wig wouldn’t look good and that I had to colour my hair. Back then they didn’t have those sort of colours, so I think we used something that made marshmallows turn blue. So everyday they dyed my hair. It most definitely was not healthy. In season two for those two episodes I was in, they used a wig. It wasn’t worth dying my hair.
Yes, because you didn’t continue with the show…
Yes, they weren’t really sure they were going to continue and I had already started another show in Germany. I really enjoyed the four ninety-minute movies with stars like Rutger Hauer, Malcolm McDowell and Tim Curry. Nowadays I think that it was more of a crazy project than anything I have done since, but at the time it wasn’t right to continue.
LEXX was definitely an unusual concept. What drew you to the character of Zev?
Oh I loved Zev, especially at that time, I had a lot of resemblance with her. I always had this ideal about Love. Lots of parts of me were like Zev: naïve but still curious, very loving and innocent. She was living in her own world. It was so weird because I had all of that which Zev needed. She needed to be sexy but still innocent because this girl has never been sexy in her whole life. I wasn’t used to being sexy either. It was hard for me to play that character. Before that, I had been presenting a children’s show – which is also not very sexual!
I had never played a role with a push-up bra and miniskirt. It was all very new to me.
I had come from a very conservative background with no actors and so for me it was like a big adventure to go out there and try things. Basically I went straight from school into the business. I finished school at 18 then I was doing a children’s show for a year before LEXX arrived. I still had not felt finished. I had acting lessons and voice lessons since I was 14 but I did not have life experience. Suddenly I was going to another country to shoot a movie with Rutger Hauer. It was very like “OMG what’s happening?”. So a lot of stuff in Zev was very true; the inexperience, curiosity and fear. That fitted me quite well.
How did you prepare for the more sexual scenes in the show?
Well for the shower scene I had a body double because I did not feel pretty enough. They actually tried to cast a double in Halifax which was hard because all the table dancers in town had piercings and tattoos. So they finally used an extra for the close-ups. Later when I played the topless parts myself, it was so sweet because one of the technicians said, “You look far more better than your body double”. I felt really protected. I loved Paul Donovan and the other actors. It was like a big family.
What were your initial expectations of the show?
Actually – I was filming the German version of The Love Boat in New Zealand about five years ago and stopped at a gas station. The guy at the cashier’s desk said to me “Aren’t you Zev?” and he was really excited. They [LEXX’s producers] all told me we were sold to over 40 countries. So it was a cool start. It wasn’t planned, none of my career was. You can’t just decide what you will or won’t like, you can just do your best. In Germany I am not mostly known for LEXX because I have done a lot more things and LEXX was 20 years ago. I saw it all as an adventure and wanted to see how far I could go.
LEXX is known have a cult following. How did working on that compare to other mainstream productions?
LEXX wasn’t actually very low budget. Maybe it was compared to other American budgets, but it had a lot of special effects. I sometimes enjoy low budget productions more because everyone involved does it for the fun, the love of it, for the ideal and not for the money. I can enjoy it more. You see a different spirit. When I am working I want to do a good job. Where’s the passion? Filmmaking should be about passion.
When I watched LEXX I really felt it was everyone’s baby…
That’s a good word for it – everyone’s baby. They really cared about it. Doing a movie is creating something new and should be done out of Love. You as an actor have to go through things and the audience has to go through it with you. That’s what I love to experience when I go to the movie theatre.
You’re starring in a new film, based on Mythology called Mara und der Feuerbringer. Can you tell us about the film?
It is directed by Tommy Krappweis and it’s going to be in German theatres from 2nd October. The budget was 10 million Euros. It’s a trilogy and it’s about a girl who has the ability to switch between worlds. She goes into the world of the Gods and has to save the earth. My character is Sigyn, the wife of Loki. I’m kidnapped and being forced to marry a half-god. If we marry, he will be a full god. The little girl has to try to free me.
What projects are you next working on?
Right now we are actually working on a movie, which I will be directing in September. It is a comedy with stereotypical people and they have to interact. It is my first time directing. There is another movie they want to do with me. I’ve done a lot of Love stories but I do like crazy stuff. I am going to play an alien who comes to earth, takes another woman’s appearance and actually starts killing male virgins. In Germany we call these sorts of creatures a Golum. The woman the alien takes the form of has a family and husband who realizes his wife is acting weird! It’s a fun film. I like that kind of stuff.
Finally, do you have any suggestions on how filmmakers can make it easier for talent entering a low budget production?
I can tell you the most important thing on set is food. Have a good caterer, even if it is low budget. I did a low budget film and I was being paid 12 Euros but they still found caterers for the crew. They brought us, everyday, a lot of food. It glued everyone together. People who are not fed are not happy. What I do is I always bring my own jacket and warm clothes. Basic and simple. If you take care of your health you will be fine. You can handle stress better. There has to be at least one room that is warm for people to heat themselves up.