Actress Lucy Lawless pleads guilty to trespass

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — "Xena: Warrior Princess" actress Lucy Lawless says she has "no regrets" about boarding and preventing an oil-drilling ship from leaving a New Zealand dock, a protest action that saw her plead guilty on Thursday to trespass charges.

"For the first time in my life, I put my body and reputation on the line to stand up for my beliefs and do the right thing," she said in an interview with The Associated Press after her appearance in court. "I hope I've encouraged other people to do the same."

In February, the 44-year-old native New Zealander and six other Greenpeace activists climbed a drilling tower on the vessel Noble Discoverer, which was docked in New Zealand bound for the Arctic, to protest oil exploration in the Arctic. Lawless spent four days atop the 174-foot (53-meter) tower, camping and blogging about her experiences.

She and seven other Greenpeace activists — including one who'd helped from the ground — pleaded guilty at Auckland District Court to charges of unlawfully being on a ship. She is due to be sentenced in September and faces a maximum three years in jail after prosecutors reduced a more serious charge of burglary.

Oil company Shell, which was chartering the ship, has condemned the protest, saying it needlessly put people in danger.

Lawless that she felt she had little choice but to participate in the protest because of the damage oil companies are doing to the environment.

She said she doesn't expect to receive a jail sentence for her actions because she is a first-time offender and the protest was peaceful. She is concerned, however, that a conviction could impede her acting career if some countries choose to prevent her from entering as a result.

"If I couldn't travel, obviously that would be a tremendous pain in the neck," she said.

Lawless is best known for her title role in the TV series "Xena: Warrior Princess," and more recently for starring in the Starz cable television series "Spartacus." Her role in Spartacus ended last season, she said, and she's now working on several other projects.

Lawless said she intends for now to keep up her involvement with Greenpeace.

"But I've got no plans to jump on an oil rig again any time soon," she added.

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