MONSTER CHILD IN A PROMISED LAND
Discord was eventually developed to be the sister of Strife (played by fellow New Zealander Joel Tobeck) and the niece of Ares. Since that first appearance, Discord has been a major thorn in the side of Hercules, Iolaus, Xena and Gabrielle, as well as many of the gods themselves, not least Uncle Ares and Auntie Aphrodite, particularly after the death of Strife at the hands of Callisto.
So if Strife is a God of War wannabe, where does Desmond see Discord fitting into the Pantheon? "I think Discord pretty much fancied the God of War position for herself," she reflects. "If she couldn't be Ares, then she wanted to at least be as powerful as he was."
So did Desmond have any real say in the development of Discord? "I think you make something personal because you are bringing elements of yourself to the character in a detached way," Desmond muses. "All you really know about is yourself, and even though she isn't the same as me, I worked with what I knew. Because the show is tongue in cheek, you have to take liberties, and her little moods and mood swings were developed over a period of time rather than being there from the outset, which meant I could play her slightly differently in different scenes. So in one scene she would be sarcastic, and then in the next she'd be dry or fiery."
"I would say that it took me the TV movie and a couple of episodes to really get used to the character," Desmond admits. "That is, to be able to say some of the lines and not blush inwardly! When I said some of those lines, I would think to myself, 'Oh my! Do I really have to say that?'"
Fortunately for us, every one of Discord's mischievous plans failed. Would Desmond have liked to see her character succeed just once? "She would have been so smug," she laughs as she ponders the thought. "I would have really enjoyed seeing her have some sort of success. I don't think she would have been too horrible about it, but she certainly would have enjoyed it. After a while it got to the point where I'd think, 'How can I play this 'near-miss' differently?' So, perhaps for that reason, it would have been nice to succeed."
Following Strife's death, Discord was written into a number of episodes in the later seasons of Hercules as well as into seasons three, four and five of Xena, in which she was frequently placed alongside Uncle Ares. Did Desmond and Kevin Smith sit down before shooting and talk through their characters' lines? "We didn't sit down and talk about it or anything," Desmond reveals. "What you see [on screen] is the result of scripting and what we each decided to do with our characters. Generally there would be a script read-through a couple of days before shooting started, but usually the scenes were rehearsed and blocked right before we shot them."