Xena: Warrior Princess star Lucy Lawless trended on Twitter last night after taking aim at a conspiracy theory shared by Kevin Sorbo, star of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. The two appeared together as their onscreen fantasy characters in the '90s, and co-headlined an animated movie titled The Battle for Mount Olympus. Sorbo shared a far-right conspiracy theory that Trump supporters who rioted at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week were "false flag" actors working on behalf of anti-fascist activists to discredit conservative activists. Independent fact-checkers have dismissed the notion, noting that most of the identifiable figures in the photos so far have a history of right-wing activism.
Sorbo is a vocal conservative activist and commentator who has appeared in a number of recent faith-based movies and cites his Christian faith as the root of his activism. Lawless is an activist as well, focusing her work on climate and environmental issues. Since Xena, she has become a feminist pop culture icon and has a significant LGBTQ+ following.
You can see the exchange below:
No, Peanut. They are not Patriots. They are your flying monkeys,homegrown terrorists, QAnon actors. They are the douchebags that go out and do the evil bidding of people like you who like to wind them up like toys and let them do their worst. #keepingYourFilthyHandsclean #enabler— Lucy Lawless (@RealLucyLawless) January 7, 2021
Xena debuted on Hercules and was originally set to die at the end of her first arc, but turned out to be so compelling to the producers and popular with fans that the character instead got her own spinoff. Unlike Hercules, Xena was an original character and not based on a specific mythological figure, although since they existed in the same universe and had similar approaches, the series would explore characters, concepts, and themes from Greek mythology.
Both shows ran for six seasons, as well as crossovers back and forth and an animated movie, but Xena has had more pop culture success in the time since it was on TV, likely in part because her status as an original character makes her something that can be licensed, and makes it harder for generic knockoffs to steal attention away from official comics, games, and other tie-ins.
The pair's feud goes back to 2001, when Sorbo gave an interview complaining about violence and LGBTQ+ themes in Xena, which he said he did not find consistent with the values of Hercules. It wasn't long before he would move from criticizing Xena to attacking Lawless personally, intimating that she only got the job because she was seducing a (male) producer. At the same time, he has previously intimated that she might be a closeted lesbian.4comments
Lawless has generally resisted directly replying to Sorbo's remarks about her, but will sometimes respond to his political commentary. This may be the most public she has been in dunking on Sorbo personally, especially because she doubled down on calling him "Peanut" when a fan shared a story about Sorbo claiming she only got the role because of her romantic relationship with a producer.
Lawless responded with, "HAHAHHAHAHHAAA!! oh, Peanuut! You slay me!"