The warrior princess, Virginia Hey, didn’t appear as if by magic out of the red dust of Broken Hill in Australia’s wild west, but magic and mystery have always been a part of her make up. This Sydney born and London nurtured actress began her adult life as an artist. But “Hey”, when you stand by a bus stop waiting to go to work in Sydney you can suddenly find yourself walking the catwalks of the world. This is exactly what happened to the lithely stunning 5’11” Virginia. And ‘Hey” presto, the artist and model soon found herself cast beside the ultimate “road warrior” in Mel Gibson’s sublime Mad Max Trilogy. Then, Virginia found herself cast as a Bond girl, licensed to thrill before settling down to make several movies and Aussie television series.
Then in 1999, Ginny was cast as the deliciously lovely Zotah Zhaan in the cult classic, “Farscape.” For three years, Ginny spent many long hours in make up while foregoing her lovely blond hair and eyebrows to fit in with the character of Zhaan. This great series has now been seen in more than 20 countries worldwide and lasted 4 wonderful seasons.
I was lucky enough to catch up with the effervescent Virginia and quiz her about her experiences with autograph collectors and as you’ll soon find out this great Aussie girl lives up to her bubbly Gemini zodiac sign. And if you check out Virginia’s fantastic website you’ll get a sense of her mystical side as well as that sparkling Aussie humour.
David: G’day, Miss Hey. It’s great to chat to a fellow Aussie. I was wondering whether you could relate to your growing army of fans your first autograph request and the circumstances involved? Was this during your modelling career before turning to acting and what was your reaction to this request?
Virg: Hi David, thank you for inviting me to chat with you. My first autograph? It was before I started acting. I was at Art School and I was approached to do fashion modelling on weekends.. My first ever fashion spread came out in Mode Magazine that year, 1971, (Am I THAT old!!! LOL) and a lady in The Brass Rail, (a Sydney coffee shop in the then trendy Imperial Arcade), came to my table and asked me to sign the fashion pages I was in.. hee hee, I thought it was very embarassing, I didnt know why she would want my autograph, I was not ever into modelling (or acting later) for any need for adoration or fame. I’m still not, so it made me a bit uneasy. All my friends with me at the cafe gave me SUCH a hard time and made fun of me for months over it!! Needless to say, I’m less shy now, so I am VERY comfy with fans. If it wasn’t for our fans we wouldnt have jobs and ALL actors and celebs MUST remember this.
David: Having done most of your work in Australia, have you found that there’s been much of a difference between autograph hunters in the USA compared to back home? Do you find that the fans watching Farscape vary from country to country? Do you get asked many questions about the Mad Max Trilogy?
Virg: Wow, 3 questions in one. hee hee. Well, actually I’ve done most of my work in England. I lived there for 27 years with yearly trips back home to Sydney for Christmas, with concentrated work during those times home. It’s an easy mistake to make, because I was seen all year round in the magazines and on telly at home, but in fact I was only present in Australia for about 6 weeks a year. Fans all over the world are identical, they all have a passion for good entertainment, brilliant script writing, spectacular special effects, great character interaction and tension, and just damn good storytelling! The Farscape fans all over the world are family to me. They are the most loyal and loving community I have EVER witnessed; a breed unto themselves. It seems that every person in the grip of the FS magic reached out and bonded with like minds around our world to create an army of loving individuals. Amazing phenominom. And yes, I am Blessed indeed, I have just as many Mad Max fans as Farscape fans, so I am asked a great deal about the MM trilogy. I enjoy their questions thoroughly. Actually, there is to be a 4th MM movie this year or next year. "Fury Road". I need you all to start a HUGE campaign, write multiple notes or emails to Mel Gibson and George Miller to let them now you want to see Warrior Woman back!! Nevermind the little detail that she is dead!!! How about seeing her as a clone, or cyborg, or even as a relative. twin sister?? Ha ha, am I pushing it?? Hell no, bring her back to continue the onscreen charisma between Max and Warrior Woman!!!!!
David: Over the years, you’ve worked with some great and interesting people including Mel Gibson in the second Mad Max film and Guy Pearce in the series, “Neighbours”. During that time did you co-sign many photos with other actors?
Virg: No, it wasn’t trendy in those days.
David: And did you ever sign any photos with Michael Hutchence
Virg: Certainly not! The great thing about Australia is that privacy is respected. Squillions of folk saw us together, but they were all so sweet, they allowed us to be ourselves like normal people.
David: Or with Timothy Dalton during the making of the Bond flick, “The Living Daylights”?
Virg: Not then, we were in Tunisia most of the time, but since Ive been in the USA Farscape fans have cottoned onto the fact that Farscape wasnt my first job, they get great delight in discovering my prior work, like opening a treasure chest, bless them, so now I sign 007 pics, Prisoner, Mad Max and FS pics.. They havent discovered many of my other productions as yet, but they will as time goes by.
David: Have you signed many photos with other well-known celebrities? If so can you remember some of your favourite ones.
Virg: With? Do you mean at the same signing sessions? Yes, since I’ve been in the USA I have been at signings with Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner, and Marina Certes and Patrick Stewart, Captain Picard from Star Trek, Bill Shatner, Walter Koenig and James Doohan, "Scotty" from the Original Star Trek, Andy Hallet from Angel, Robin Atkin Downes from Babylon 5, Keith Hamilton Cobb from Andromeda, the cast of Stargate, and the list goes on. Pretty much all of the Sci-Fi actors. And All of them really wonderful!
David: Do you recall any interesting incidents involving autograph hunters? Did this include any unusual or spectacular requests?
Virg: No, everyone is most polite and wonderful.. I know you want lots of good dirt! Ha ha, naughty David, but there simply isnt any. Not that I can recall right this second anyway..LOL!!!
David: What do you recall as being the funniest incident? And was there ever a confronting moment that left you either upset or worried?
Virg: The only spectacular funny occurences are when fans want their body parts signed!!!!! I say "No" of course!!!! ........ Oh, hang on, I remember a VERY confronting moment, yes, actually in Australia if you can believe it! I was in Queensland at a con, I was in the Ladies room (beware, its embarrassing!!) and this crazy girl stood on the toilet in the stall next to me and lent over the top of the partitian wall, popped her head over into my stall and said "Hello,I just wanted to see if Zhaan pee'd"!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was HORRIFIED, but handled it as calmly as poss, I thought if she was CRAZY enough to do that, and had NO boundries and NO manners, then she might be crazy enough to have a gun or weapon of some sort. Needless to say she was gone by the time I came out.
David: How do you think that actors and other celebrities should handle their fans, which keeps a happy medium for both parties?
Virg: Actors/celebs should always treat their fans with love, respect, patience and kindness. Mutual respect works well. No one person is superior to another, we actors/celebs and fans are all equal. Most actors forget that and buy into their own publicity and elevate themselves above fans, but we are all flesh and blood. We are ordinary people with extraordinary jobs. We need to treat each other with mutual kindness.
David: Have you ever been in a position where you’ve met someone and asked (or wanted to ask) them for an autograph? Who were they, and why did they impress you? And which famous person in history would you most liked to have met, and what would you ask them to write for you in their dedication?
Virg: No, I’ve not ever asked for an autograph myself, I’ve been in the business my whole adult life, so seeing celebs is second nature, and I see everyone as equal as you know, so I wouldnt tend to put anyone on a pedestal. However, I would've LOVED to have met Bette Davis and sat down for a good ole goss.... Also I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall and watched Leonardo Da Vinci work, or sat and listened to Einstein or Pasteur lecture... Ahhh, yes, bliss... I would ask each for a few words of inspiration...
David: On a more serious note, you have encountered many forged copies of your signature on internet sites like eBay? How do you cope with the misuse of your good name and have you ever considered litigation against anyone selling forgeries? Do you know other actors, who have told you about similar abuses being perpetrated against them or how they deal with the situation?
Virg: Yes, I’ve seen some forgeries of my autograph for sale. I didn’t do anything about it, but their deviousness inspired me to open a merchandise area on my own site, www.virginiahey.com to offer authentic autographs and merchandise. So something good came from something very bad! I am not the kind to litigate. No, I dont know of any other such abuses toward other celebs, though I’m sure they happen frequently, unfortunately.
David: Lastly, but certainly not least: are there any messages, or thoughts you would like to share with your many fans regarding any aspect of your career or your thoughts on autograph collecting?
Virg: Yes, thank you. There is a favour I’d like to ask all of you… I’d love you ALL to email and write to casting directors here in the USA and ask them to put me in productions. The casting folk here don’t know me yet, and they need some gentle prompting!!. They’ve all seen Mad Max 2, but imagine that 20 years on I must be some little old grey haired lady by now. Ha ha, little do these guys know that 20 years after Mad Max, I’m still the warrior woman!!! LOL!!!
I just received my Greencard work papers a few weeks ago after a year and a half wait, and the USA Government INS officially named me an "Alien Of Extraordinary Ability".. Hee hee! If only they knew....... Re: autograph collecting? I have SPECIAL news for you all... As you know I went to Art School a million years ago, so I can draw/paint... Well, drum roll please... rat tat tat tat.... This is my FIRST announcement... I have been commissioned to do 9 pencil portraits of Farscape characters for Rittenhouse trading card company!! They will be called FARSCAPE SEASON 4 ARTIFEX CARDS...So snap these cool card right up!!! They are available in April this year, 2003… Yippeeeeeeeeeeee, my mum would be proud that I didnt waste my Art training!!! I hope I SEE you all at conventions very soon. XXXXXXXXXX Love U all XXXXXXXXXX Heaps XXXXXXXXXXX
David: In closing, I would suggest that all of our readers check out Virginia’s great site for some absolutely wonderful images from not only Farscape, but shows like Mad Max. Just click on Virginia's photo above to go to her website.
All photos are copyright to their various owners and used here to show examples of Virginia Hey's autograph style.