Surprising Facts About Xena: Warrior Princess That You Might Not Know
Xena: Warrior Princess debuted on our screens on the night of the 4th September 1995. The show was an instant hit around the world. For six years, audiences were thrilled by the tales of Xena’s quest for redemption alongside her trusty companion-at-arms, Gabrielle. When the show came to a close on June 18th 2001, fans were devastated. However, they were determined to keep the Xena flame burning bright. For the last sixteen years, the show has grown a huge cult following, spawning hundreds of tie-in products such as video games, books, comics and annual conventions.
Here are twenty surprising facts about the Xena universe that you might not know …
Lawless Nearly Died Making The Show
While filming a sketch for The Tonight Show in 1996, Lucy fell from the horse she was riding and fractured her pelvis in several places. Her recovery went better than expected, and she was able to return to work a month earlier than doctors had predicted. However, her accident seriously affected several episodes of the second season of Xena, with some episodes having to be dramatically rewritten.
She Was Never Supposed To Have Her Own Series
There was never meant to be a show called Xena: Warrior Princess at all. Originally just a character in the highly successful Universal Television show, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, her character proves a huge hit. So much so that three appearances in Hercules became six seasons of one hundred and thirty four episodes. Not bad!
Lucy Lawless Wasn’t Meant To Be Xena
The first choice to play Xena on Hercules was the English actress, Vanessa Angel. However, Angel had to drop out shortly before filming because of illness. The part thus went to Lucy Lawless and the rest, as they say, is history. It’s hard now to imagine anyone else in the role!
Xena’s Costume Is In A Museum
In 2006, five years after the series finale was aired, the iconic Xena costume was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s costume collection. Many fans flocked to see the costume in the Washington museum, delighted to see it in the flesh for the first time. The costume still resides in the collection, but is no longer on display.
Her Iconic Weapon Was Grounded In Reality
Many people think that Xena’s iconic ‘chakram’ weapon was specifically designed for the show. In fact, the chakram is a real weapon that was used by warriors on the Indian subcontinent for hundreds of years. In the show, only four characters could ever control the chakram – Xena herself, Gabrielle, Callisto and Eve.
There Was Almost A Planet Xena
When astronomers discovered a brand new dwarf planet back in 2005, they almost named it ‘Xena’ as they were huge fans of the show. However, their plan to call the dwarf planet after everyone’s favorite warrior princess was thwarted when the name was voted down by the International Astronomical Union. Instead, the new celestial body was named ‘Eris’ after the Greek goddess of strife and discord.
Her War Cry Had A Very Unusual Origin
Xena’s infamous war cry has its origins in the Middle East. Lawless based it on the ululations of Arab women. An ululation is a high-pitched trilling noise produced by emitting a continuous sound while rapidly flicking the tongue backwards and forwards. To her enemies, Xena’s trademark ululation was utterly terrifying!
She Was Modeled On A Tennis Ace
According to show insiders, Xena’s looks were modeled on the grand slam-winning tennis ace, Gabriela Sabatini. Like Xena, Gabriela Sabatini was tall, slim, a brunette and incredibly athletic. No wonder they chose to model the character on this powerful, independent woman!
There Was Almost A Funky Disco Xena
There was a suggestion at one stage of doing a special ‘Xena Does Disco’ episode of the show until cool heads shot the idea down in flames. The episode would have featured the music of Disco diva Donna Summer had it gone ahead, but alas it wasn’t to be. Summer’s music did appear, however, in the second season episode ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun‘.
The Show Had An Award-Winning Soundtrack
Although adored by a loyal army of worldwide fans, Xena: Warrior Princess wasn’t exactly showered with awards over the course of its six year run. It did, however, win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition – Series (Original Dramatic Score). The award went to the composer Joseph LoDuca for his work on the show’s soundtrack.
Lawless Wasn’t A Fan Of The Fight Scenes
One of the things the fans adored about Xena: Warrior Princess were the numerous fight scenes that took place throughout the show. One of the people who wasn’t so keen on them as the fans was the actress who played Xena. Lucy Lawless later admitted that she hated filming the fights. We’re not surprised. They were incredibly tense and clearly hugely physically demanding.
There Was More To Her Costume Than First Met The Eye
There was no denying that the show drew in a lot of interested fans thanks to the sexy outfits the cast – in particular Lawless – wore throughout Xena’s six year run. The iconic Xena costume, designed by award-winning New Zealand costume designer Ngila Dickson, would also have a second lease of life long after the show ended. In 2012, the US military admitted it had developed certain parts of its female body armor based on Dickson’s designs.
Xena Was Immortalized On The Simpsons SEVEN Times!
You know you’ve made it in the world of popular culture when your character is immortalized on The Simpsons. Xena has had the honor of appearing in the popular cartoon series on several occasions, most notably in the episode ‘Behind the Laughter‘, where she was kidnapped by The Collector. As well as this episode, Xena has appeared in six further episodes of the hugely successful Fox cartoon sitcom.
Lawless Met The Love Of Her Life On The Show
It wasn’t all work, work, work on the set of Xena: Warrior Princess. Lawless met her future husband, Robert Tapert, on the show. Tapert was not only a producer of the show, but also a huge fan of it too. The pair married in 1998, and have two sons, Julius and Judah. Both boys were born in New Zealand, where Xena: Warrior Princess was filmed.
The Producers Came Up With An Ingenious Safety Precaution
There’s a very good reason why most of the fight scenes in Xena: Warrior Princess took place on dirt-strewn ground. As well as giving the scenes that authentic, ‘olde worlde’ appearance, the ground played an important role in keeping the actors safe. The crew concealed rubber crash mats under all that dirt, meaning the actors didn’t hurt themselves when they were required to fall to the ground. Practical!
Pregnancy Was Not A Problem
Lawless was pregnant during filming of the fifth season of Xena: Warrior Princess. Usually, when an actress falls pregnant during the filming of a long-running show, she will be written out for a while in the latter stages of pregnancy for rather obvious reasons. Not so on Xena. The writers simply wrote her pregnancy into the story, meaning Lawless could carry on doing what she did best!
Things Got Rather Confusing In Spain
Xena: Warrior Princess was a massive hit all around the world. However, things didn’t always run smoothly. Spanish Xena fans were left highly confused when they tuned in to watch season four of the show. They had a very good reason to be confused. The network in Spain broadcast season four in completely the wrong order!
Will They, Won’t They?
There was a bit of question hanging over the exact relationship between Xena and her trusty sidekick, Gabrielle. Fans wondered if there was more to the relationship than met the eye. However, whether the two were more than just good friends has never been confirmed nor denied by the actresses or the people involved with the show. You’ll just have to make up your own mind!
There Could Have Been A Xena-Wonder Woman Mash-Up
Before it was cancelled in 2001, there had been discussions of a Xena-Wonder Woman crossover episode. This intriguing notion was canned along with the show itself. A shame, because seeing Xena take on her enemies with her trusty chakram with a Lasso of Truth-wielding Wonder Woman at her side would have been epic! Make it! Make it NOW!
The Missed Opportunity
In an interview, Lawless stated that one of her biggest regrets was that she did not get to make a movie of Xena: Warrior Princess when the show was at the height of its popularity. There has been talks of a Xena movie over the years, with many former cast members expressing an interest in reviving their roles. Sadly, nothing has ever come of it. Who knows? One day we may see Xena and Gabrielle up there on the big screen fighting side by side again. Here’s hoping!
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