The cast of 300: Rise of an Empire is more than ready to have the world see the eye-popping 3D marvel that is the follow-up to the visual masterpiece that also gave us such rich 300 quotes.. As teased in the 300: Rise of an Empire trailer, the film operates almost at the same time as the previous flick, and Persia’s threat to the city states of Greece is even stronger.
We caught up with members of the 300: Rise of an Empire ensemble including Lena Headey (back as Queen Gorgo from the first flick) and Eva Green (who plays the awesomely evil Artemisia). “I’d say that Gorgo’s back this time just for revenge. It’s that simple,” Headey said of the wife of Gerard Butler’s character who was killed at the end of 300.
Green is just excited for a film that is so engrained in the sword and sandal milieu to have two female leads. “I think it’s quite rare to see strong women in an action film, so that’s cool. Artemisia is like a man in a woman’s body. She’s really ballsy, very brave,” she said.
Artemisia’s quest for vengeance that is rooted in evil does not come out of nowhere. Her character, a Greek, was victimized by Greek soldiers and to say she holds a grudge is a little calm of a description.
“She was traumatized as a child so she kind of built this armor around her to survive, and she became driven and blinded by vengeance, and completely obsessed. Yeah, she’s bonkers, a maniac!”
Although a fire and brimstone war flick with 3D that pops off the screen, Headey cautions that all that war has its root in the classic storytelling guise of family first.
“Speaking from Gorgo’s point of view, the Spartan law is honor before anything else. And the fact that she loses the love of her life... well, there is nothing else to be done apart from avenging him. So there’s no other way for her to go,” she added.
Even with a green screen-heavy action flick, Headey cautions that the root of the story must shine through… regardless of what’s physically around you.
“I don’t think there’s any giant science to it,” she said of acting amongst massive special effects. “If you’re playing a mother who’s losing a son, there’s something at stake -- so some of it is just done with pure emotion. This piece is about war and death and love, so I think you’re already set up to be emotionally raw. I don’t think it needs much more than that.”
The performers on the set did have a little help from director Noam Murro. His taste in music fueled the dramatic fire. “Our director Noam Murro loves opera, so he used to play opera [on the set]. He wanted us not to be afraid to be theatrical in a big way,” Green said and laughed. “I mean, my character’s quite full on, so I had to go all the way, and not play natural.”
Green adored the chance as a thespian to not only channel deep emotions, but to tackle the art of stage acting, albeit on a much, much larger scale. “The fight choreography was like a dance. I’ve always been an enormous fan of those Asian films, like Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Green said.
“So doing 300: Rise of an Empire made me feel like I was a little girl, and I had great masters. You just have to do it, let it all out, go for it.”
As seen in this Meet the Villains clip, Green gets to wear some pretty outrageous costumes, which of course she loved.
“[Costume designer] Alexandra Byrne is very talented and brave. I love the outfit she made that had golden spikes erupting from my back so I look like a sort of dinosaur. It was very cool and very easy to move in. Sometimes my hair got caught in the spikes, but you don’t see that in the film,” Green said and laughed.
“That was my favorite outfit. I look like a weird animal!”
Callan Mulvey, who plays Greek warrior Scyllias, had another experience with his costume. "Just one word: Vaseline,” he said and laughed. “You’re wearing leather underpants. They’re not the most comfortable garment to run around chopping people’s heads off in. But the negatives were taken care of by plenty of Vaseline to stop the chafing!”
One of the things that was striking about the first 300 was it was widely considered the “six-pack” movie for how ripped the warriors had to be, fighting with their shirts off the entire movie. It is no different in 300: Rise of an Empire, but Callan admits once they were finished…
“I think everybody went straight to fat camp once we stopped filming. I think, for me personally, I never want to look at chicken and broccoli again, which is basically all we ate, and we were just lifting things constantly,” Callan said.
The actor admitted it was rough, but what they specifically trained for, makes the movie an even more fantastical experience for the audience.
“We were learning all our fight sequences right up to the shoot and training throughout the shoot so it was quite exhausting. But the great thing was they trained us in such a way you weren’t trained to have your chest look like this or an aesthetic look,” Callan said.
“You were trained so that you could move and you really see that with everybody in their fight scenes… you didn’t have to have the stunt doubles!”
300: Rise of an Empire lands March 7… get ready and watch 300 online.