The Players (02-09)
SIX DEGREES OF FRODO
Lord of the Rings and Xena: Warrior Princess
Xena: Warrior Princess and Lord of the Rings share more than just snappy costume design.
 The success of Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys put New Zealand on the map as a great location for film and television production and also demonstrated that there is an incredible talent pool in the small island country. The phenomenal success of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy should be no surprise to Xena fans, since a number of Xena/Hercules alumni were involved in the production, in front of and behind the camera. So, in the great tradition of the Internet game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," let's see just how close Xena is to Hobbit Frodo Baggins of the Shire.
Celeborn and Borias, similar...yet different
 The first film in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, features a number of familiar faces from Xena and Hercules, though some might be hard to spot under Hobbit ears or Uruk-hai make-up. Perhaps most easily recognizable is Marton Csokas, who appeared in numerous Xena episodes as Borias and Khrafstar and was also in the Hercules episode THE PROMISE as Tarlus. Csokas shares the screen with Cate Blanchett as Lord Celeborn of Lothlorien. While most of Csoka's lines did not make it into the theatrical release, you can see much more of him in the extended version now out on DVD. Joining Csokas as an Elf in Middle Earth, is Craig Parker as Haldir, the elf who finds the fellowship in the Golden Wood and takes them to the Lord and Lady of the Wood. Parker probably looks familiar to Xena fans because he appeared on three episodes, as Sarpedon in FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS, King Cleades in KEY TO THE KINGDOM, and Bellerophon in TO HELICON AND BACK. Parker continues his role as Haldir in the second installment of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, leading the Elf archers to aid in the defense of Helm's Deep.
 Other Xena/Hercules graduates fill smaller roles in Fellowship. Some of the lucky Xena/Hercules actors have one or two lines, while others get screen time as reaction or atmosphere shots. The Hobbits who reside in Hobbiton and the Shire include Lori Dungey as Mrs. Bracegirdle (ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS/Xena; HERO'S HEART/Hercules); Norman Forsey as Sam's father Gaffer (ROAD TO CALYDON, FESTIVAL OF DIONYSUS, THE OUTCAST/Hercules; WARRIOR...PRINCESS, WARRIOR...PRINCESS...TRAMP, BEEN THERE DONE THAT, KEY TO THE KINGDOM, OLD ARES HAD A FARM/Xena); Ian Mune as Bounder (GLADIATOR, THE APPLE/Hercules); Cameron Rhodes as Farmer Maggot (BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS, KING CON/Xena); Megan Edwards as Mrs. Proudfoot (HIGHWAY TO HADES/Hercules); William Johnson as Old Noakes (WARRIOR PRINCESS, JUDGEMENT DAY/Hercules; THE RECKONING/Xena). The extended version DVD gives some of these actors a bit more screen time so you may have a better chance spotting your favorite Xena/Hercules alumni.
 Lawrence Makoare appeared on Xena twice, first in THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER and then in FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS, but you won't be able to recognize him in Fellowship. Buried under a mountain of prosthetics and make-up, Makoare plays the memorably evil Lurtz, the Uruk-hai warrior who kills Boromir and is finally decapitated by Aragorn.
 Several alumni actually play humans in Fellowship. Martyn Sanderson (Hercules and the Circle of Fire, THE WRONG PATH, FESTIVAL OF DIONYSUS, THE KING OF THIEVES/Hercules) is the gruff fellow who lets the Hobbits through the gate at Bree, while David Weatherley (ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS/Xena) tends the bar at the Inn of the Prancing Pony. Mark Ferguson appeared in five episodes of Xena, two of the Hercules movies and one episode of Hercules, but he gets much less screen time in Fellowship of the Ring as the last High King, Gil-galad.
 If you think that's a pretty good scorecard for Xena/Hercules, we have not even covered the 'grads' that can be seen in the second filmThe Two Towers yet. Perhaps the Xena/Hercules actor who is making the biggest splash with Lord of the Rings is Karl Urban. Urban made numerous appearances on both shows as Cupid and also played Julius Caesar on Xena. In Two Towers, Urban lands the featured role of Eomer, nephew to the King of Rohan and leader of the Riders of the Riddermark. As Eomer, he shares some memorable scenes with the movie's stars, including Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortenson, Orlando Bloom, and John Rhys-Davies. Urban will reprise his role in The Return of the King, the concluding film in the trilogy to be released in December 2003.
 For Two Towers, more alumni were camouflaged under creature make-up, including Jed Brophy as Sharku, the Warg-Rider captain and as Snaga, Mordor Lieutenant (THE ENFORCER/Hercules; LOOKING DEATH IN THE EYE/Xena); Robert Pollock as a Mordor Orc (UNCHAINED HEART, KING FOR A DAY/Hercules); Stephen Ure as Mordor Captain Grishnakh (DIRTY HALF DOZEN, SACRIFICE I & II/Xena). Stephen Ure and Lawrence Makaore both appear in The Return of the King again heavily disguised by costume and make-up, Ure as Mordor Captain Gorbag and Makaore as the Lord of the Ringwaiths.
 Nathaniel Lees, who appeared in many Hercules and Xena episodes, most notably as Nicklio in DESTINY/Xena and Chiron on Hercules, is heard but unrecognizable as Ugluk, the Uruk-hai captain whose warriors are holding Hobbits Merry and Pippin prisoner. An unsubstantiated source outside of the official movie has attributed the role of Ugluk to another Xena alum, Jay Laga'aia (Draco), although Nathaniel's name appears in the film's credits. While this information has not been confirmed, it could suggest that Laga'aia may have been the actor in the oversized creature costume onscreen while Lees supplied the voice. Either way, Xena fans get one (or both) of their show's actors connected to this role in The Two Towers.
 Appearing as humans onscreen in The Two Towers are more recognizable Xena/Hercules actors such as Bruce Allpress as Edoras soldier Aldor (ROAD TO CALYDON, UNCHAINED HEART, CAST A GIANT SHADOW, NOT FADE AWAY, WAR WOUNDS, REDEMPTION/Hercules); Alistair Browning as Ithilien ranger Damrod (TWO MEN AND A BABY, RESURRECTION, RENDER UNTO CAESAR, DARKNESS RISING/Hercules; IF THE SHOE FITS/Xena); Bruce Phillips as a Rohan soldier (UNDER THE BROKEN SKY, THE POWER, REIGN OF TERROR, REUNIONS/Hercules); John Leigh as Rohan Captain of the Guard Hama (IDES OF MARCH, RETURN OF THE VALKYRIE/Xena); Bruce Hopkins as Helm's Deep guardian Gamling (CAST A GIANT SHADOW, HEEDLESS HEARTS, REGRETS I'VE HAD A FEW, LOVE ON THE ROCKS/Hercules; DREAMWORKER, TEN LITTLE WARLORDS, DAUGHTER OF POMIRA/Xena).
The real star of either production is, of course, New Xealand
 When The Return of the King opens in theaters, more than 20 Xena/Hercules actors will have received screen credit in the trilogy of films, and that does not include the number of Lord of the Ring extras that may have appeared on Xena/Hercules as well. The next time you watch Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, try to play 'Spot the Xena/Hercules Alumni'. Judging from this list of actors, you will have plenty of chances to win. Xena certainly wins, since we have now proven that Xena is less than six degrees from Frodo Baggins. Since they have such a close connection, it is a shame that Frodo did not take Xena along on the fellowship's quest to destroy the one ring, but then we would have only had one movie instead of three to enjoy, since Xena would have kicked Saruman and his Uruk warriors all the way into the fires of Mount Doom in no time.
Andi is an award-winning actress/director/choreographer/playwright in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. She is also a technical writer/web editor and maintains her own promotional website, Andiworld.com. She has been a fan of Xena from the beginning and is the proud co-author of the character descriptions for the trading card series Xena: Beauty and Brawn, published by Rittenhouse. Her other claim to Xena fame is winning a Dallas convention costume contest dressed as Callisto and getting her picture taken with Karl Urban!
Favorite episode: A NECESSARY EVIL
Favorite line: Callisto: "Here comes Trouble" A NECESSARY EVIL
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS