You know the sound. When it pierces through the air, gods and men alike tremble. It’s the war cry of Xena: Warrior Princess.
In looking back on her past roles, actress Lucy Lawless, who starred in the fantasy series for nearly six years starting in 1995, revisited that war cry during her appearance on PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing. As she explains in the clip above, Robert Tapert, the co-creator of Xena and Lawless’ future husband, felt the heroine needed “a signature call.” Lawless then took inspiration from watching Arabic women performing a ululation vocal trill at a funeral.
“I tried to do it and I couldn’t, so I just twisted it to do my own version of it and out came the Xena thing,” she tells host Lola Ogunnaike before offering a quick tutorial.
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In EW’s oral history of Xena: Warrior Princess, Lawless had said how “Rob used to watch all the cuts of every single episode.”
“He’d be playing it at dinnertime and it would just be so irritating to me to hear my own voice making that bloody god-awful sound and you’re trying to get dinner ready,” she recalled of that war cry.