Xena reboot defends changing cast, reconsiders skimpy costumes
The showrunner behind NBC’s reboot of Xena: Warrior Princess is giving some intriguing insight into the creative process behind project and hints what the fantasy adventure’s devoted fans can expect if the show is greenlit.
In a lengthy Q&A on io9 with Xena comic writer Genevieve Valentine, writer-producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost, Helix) revealed the potential new series would be more serialized than the episodic syndicated show that ran from 1995 to 2001, which typically told a stand-alone story in each episode.
“One big thing is that we are telling a much more serialized story than the show ever tackled,” Grillo-Marxuach said. “So formally we are already treading some very different ground — and while the characters will occupy roughly the same thematic spaces they did in the original, some of their backstories will be changed, and some of their morality will be tweaked so that we can tell a long-arcing story in which every episode leads directly into the next. It’s a delicate balancing act.”
In another potential shakeup, the showrunner said his team is having to reconsider the show’s iconic costumes — especially now that Game of Thrones’ fully armored Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) has updated pop culture on what a female warrior realistically looks like.
“A great deal of the appeal of the show lies in certain pulpy elements — like Gabrielle’s bare midriff, Xena’s leather miniskirt, Callisto’s amazing and gravity-defying… well, you get it,” he said. “And it’s hard for me in the post-Brienne of Tarth era to reconcile with the idea that Xena and her friends can meet every challenge in such skimpy outfits. I think we are going to have some very lengthy discussions about how to bring those elements into the present day without missing the boat on what makes Xena exactly what she is; and how to have our cake and eat it too.”
But perhaps the most sensitive topic addressed was that the show plans to recast Xena and Gabrielle with newer (and almost certainly younger) actresses. “…Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor are not going to be Xena and Gabrielle,” he said. “That already has a lot of people in an uproar. The question of reboot vs. revival is a very relevant now that The X-Files has been revived with the original cast, and so has Star Wars… and because the die hard fans want to see their beloved actors in the role. And look, I love these actors in these roles as much as I love William Shatner as Kirk, Sean Connery as Bond, and Lynda Carter as Diana Prince — so why does this need to be a reboot and not a continuation? The answer for me is that the reboot is not a repudiation of the classic show, but rather a compliment to it. I want for Xena to be a cultural icon for longer than my tenure in the entertainment industry, or that of anyone else involved with the project. If, in some far future, people assume that Xena is a character from the greek mythological pantheon alongside Hercules, and that’s why so many people have played her over so many years? That right there would be success.”
There’s plenty more from the Xena showrunner in his deep-dive interview, check it out here.