This is pretty much old news for Xenites but hey any article about Xena is always welcome!
What You Never Knew About Xena: Warrior Princess
TODAY marks the 22nd anniversary of Xena: Warrior Princess, who first came into our lives in 1995 and has remained a major part of pop culture ever since.
For many, Xena was an icon of feminism, female empowerment and strength and became an icon for the LGBT community thanks to her challenging ideas of masculinity and femininity, and her relationship with sidekick Gabrielle.
So to celebrate all that Xena’s given us over the years, here are a few facts you may not have known about the show, complete with tributes from around the Twittersphere from fans celebrating this auspicious day.
LUCY LAWLESS WAS NOT THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY XENA
Xena is so ingrained in pop culture now that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part, but she wasn’t actually the first choice for it.
The first choice was British actress Vanessa Angel, who starred in the TV adaptation of Weird Science. However Angel fell ill before she was supposed to fly to the set and Tapert eventually decided on giving Lawless the role.
RENEE O’CONNOR WASN’T THE FIRST CHOICE FOR GABRIELLE, EITHER
Renee O’Connor has similarly become the only face fans could imagine playing Xena’s trusty sidekick and love interest Gabrielle, but she also wasn’t the first choice.
Sunny Doench was meant for the role but backed out, reportedly because she didn’t want to leave her partner in the States. Lucky break for us, but not so much for her.
XENA’S LOOK WAS MODELLED OFF A TENNIS STAR
Xena was originally going to be blonde, but Lucy Lawless died her hair black.
Lawless decided that an Amazonian princess should look more like Gabriela Sabatini who was “the big noise in tennis” at the time.
In an interview for the Emmys, Lawless said: “I was like, ‘What about being like her? She’s big and bronze and dark-haired.’ Fortunately they went that way, because my hair would have fallen out if we tried to keep it blonde.”
THE CREDITS HAD A RUNNING IN-JOKE FOR FANS
The credits regularly had a fake disclaimer similar to the Humane Association messages saying “no animals have been harmed”.
It started as an occasional joke in season one, but by season two, every single episode had disclaimers like, “Despite Gabrielle’s incessant hurling, Ulysses’ ship was not harmed during the making of this motion picture”, “No harpies were harmed in the making of this episode”, “No oversized Polynesian-style Bamboo Horses were harmed during the production of this motion picture. However many wicker lawn chairs gave their lives,” and in an episode featuring Xena’s death; “Xena was permanently harmed in the making of this motion picture, but kept her spirits up.”
Fans caught on and started keeping track of each message via internet forums. Which brings us to the next point.
XENA AND GABRIELLE WERE PRACTICALLY MARRIED
Speculation has always been rife over the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle and through many interviews over the years, the cast and crew have confirmed that gay subtext was done entirely on purpose.
But while the relationship was never made explicitly clear on the show, Lawless told Lesbian News in 2003 that Xena was “Gay. Gay, definitely.” Not bisexual, not pansexual, not even just curious and experimenting — as far as she’s concerned Xena and Gabrielle, “They’re married, man.”
XENA WAS ONE OF THE FIRST SHOWS TO HAVE AN ONLINE FANDOM — AND IT’S STILL GOING STRONG
While nowadays, we use the internet for pretty much everything all the time, the 90s were a different time. Yet somehow, Xena managed to grow an online fandom.
The Xena fandom was one of the first to utilize the net to discuss their favourite show via the Xena Online Community board.
The Xena fandom was so strong that it only just had its final convention in 2015, a full 14 years after the show ended, and the online forums are still alive and thriving.
XENA WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO DIE
Xena was originally only brought into Hercules because producer Rob Tapert wanted a dark figure to counterbalance the cheerful and heroic Hercules.
She was supposed to be there for three episodes and then die, but Tapert and the other producers liked Xena so much that they remodelled their previously planned Hercules spin-off just for her.
Praise the TV Gods.
This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.