Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 15, 2006 | Publication: Wizard Entertainment | Author: Mike Cotton
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The Spartan king leads the charge to meet Frank Miller, train alone and bring 480 B.C. to life again

Gerard Butler never really saw himself doing a comic book film—but he’d also never read Frank Miller’s epic 300.

The story of 300 Spartans facing off against a massive Persian army set on overtaking Greece showed the 35-year-old Scottish actor something a lot of fans already knew—comics weren’t just for kids, burnouts and hipsters anymore.

When director Zack Snyder (“Dawn of the Dead”) offered Butler the part of the Spartan’s leader, King Leonidas, Butler jumped at the chance. Shot much like Robert Rodriguez and Miller’s “Sin City” movie—with blue-screen backgrounds to be filled in later, stylized costumes and elaborate sets—the film’s already being called faithful to the source material, as well as brutal and filled with jarring, powerful fights.

Butler sat down with Wizard Universe to give fans the scoop on leading his own army, meeting Miller for the first time and why you have to see “300” when it hits theaters March 16, 2007.

WIZARD: What were your first impressions when you read 300 as a graphic novel?

GERARD BUTLER: I read the oversized, widescreen hardcover. [My reaction] was pretty much, “Wow. I haven’t seen heroes this brutal or this tough or this severe in a long time,” which is something that really attracted me to this role and this film. We were diving into a culture and a race of warriors who were not presented as typically as you’d expect in Hollywood. The heroes always have to have their vulnerabilities and these guys just didn’t. They were just the ultimate fighters, the ultimate in self-confidence, the ultimate in comradeship, and the ultimate in arrogance and brutality in a way.

Now, there was a “Spartan” workout they put the cast through, but you also trained separately. Was that because you play King Leonidas? Did you want a clear division between the King and his men?

BUTLER: Yeah, a little bit. I would definitely say that I didn’t hang out with the rest of the cast as much as I could have—including on set. In fact, when we first started training, we felt it was a good idea to train together and then I actually started to become more and more separated just to get the feeling I was doing a separate amount of work and I had separate responsibilities and I think that worked really well. I think, for me, I didn’t want to be one of those guys standing up every now and again in front of my men, saying those kingly lines. I really wanted to show them I was the king. Have them go, “Look at this guy. S--t!” I trained so hard—as much, if not more than anybody on that set.

And Leonidas isn’t a speech-giving leader. He’s out there leading the Spartan army against the Persians…

BUTLER: In this story you have a king who’s a statesman; he’s a king. But secondly, he’s a warrior. He’s with his people. He would fight and die for any of them. He’d fight until the last man. That’s the feeling I went for. Yeah, I’m playing the king, but am I one of the guys? You have to be above that and separate and prove yourself in every way. I would train with them and train separately as well.

What was it like to meet 300 writer Frank Miller? Were you intimidated?

BUTLER: When Frank came along, I was worried to meet him. When I read the graphic novel, I think he explains King Leonidas and his character and motivation so brilliantly, by the end of the graphic novel you feel like you know this guy so well—a very specific look and attitude. I was worried he’d come along and go, “What? This is the guy? This is the guy you have?” But by the time we met he’d already seen some of the stuff and he was really excited about meeting me. He gave me the biggest hug and said, “I love this stuff; you’re doing great.” I couldn’t have felt better. I couldn’t have had a better time then I met him. Then he came out with me and we partied all night. He’s a great guy. He’s a lot of fun.