Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: February 19, 2007 | Publication: Beacon Newspaper (Blog) | Author: Unknown
300 combines graphic novel elements, spartan style: Interview with Gerard Butler
Director Zack Snyder and actors Gerard Butler and Rodrigo Santoro sat down with college reporters at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California for roundtable interviews to discuss the upcoming battle flick 300.
The movie, opening in theaters on March 9, is adapted from Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name and retells the Battle of Thermopylae, where Spartan and Persian forces dueled. Spartan King Leonidas (Butler) leads a contingent of 300 men against the massive army of Persian King Xerxes (Santoro) in an attempt to deter the Persian Invaders.
Q: Tell us the training you had to go through for this role to get your body in shape.
I guess nobody told you that's a body suit. [Laughs] Well, I didn't drink this f-----g thing, that's for sure (points at coke). Basically, the day I got the film, I stopped smoking two days later. I started training, just doing my own thing. I, first of all, went to my own gym. We were in the gym two hours a day, pumping weights, running and training, rowing. But then, we brought on the film trainer Mark Twight, who trains undercover operatives, caged fighters and all that. He's an intense guy, so he's like, 'Let's get the cowbell and run and bang your head against the wall six times.' You were almost dead by the end of the clip. I could tell almost immediately it wasn't going to give me the body I was looking for because nobody else in this film had to wear a six-foot beard that was like a lethal weapon in itself and have a helmet with a chicken on it. I knew that I had to have a body that matched my head and I also wanted to feel like a f-----g king, in command of 300 people. This is the one area where I disagree with Zack Snyder because Zack said, 'They would be more scrawny and sinewy but still look muscular and not eat a lot.' And I figured, audiences don't have a thing for that - you still want to see that you're standing off against a million people and you go, 'Wow, look at that. I wouldn't want to mess with that.' And that was also mentally the state that I wanted to get to, and I did. In the middle of the film, maybe I couldn't have kicked a single person's ass, but I felt like I could kick everybody's ass and I felt like I wanted to as well.
Q: The role is very strong and Spartan-like, but there was some room for humanity with your family. How did you balance the two sides?
I think you choose your moments. You trust that what can be shown in one glimpse - even the raising of an eyebrow at a certain point can say so much about a person. I think it was a genius idea to have the king listen to his wife, to look to my wife before I kill the messenger. It shows so much about the relationship and the respect and love he has for her. He really values her wisdom. More is said in this film about those kind of things with silence, such as when he leaves his wife [for battle]. When he was looking at the queen and he's taking in her whole face, nothing is said but you know that he is looking at her for the last time; he loves so much about this woman, but it would never be said and it makes it more powerful as he walks away.
This is one of the things that make this film different. Those emotions that it brings out, you have to find them because it doesn't show you them as much. These guys are the toughest heroes you would ever come across. They don't apologize to the audience. There is nothing like the commitment, the strength, and the love we will show each other and appreciate the power of what that means. The power of 300 people with a focused intention makes them like 30,000 more. You choose your moments for that to come out. That's the challenge in a film like this. I wanted this guy to come across as an 'uber-male' - intense and controlled. I wanted to show that these 300 men would follow this guy to their death gladly. To get that intensity and insanity but then the humanity and the humor, to get all of those things and suck it right in and really not show any of those things was the challenge.
Q: I've seen some of the video diaries that show the early stages in filming and you guys are walking around in loin clothes in front of a blue screen. How were you able to maintain your faith that the image would turn out in the way it does as opposed to what you're seeing in front of you?
That's a good question - I didn't (laughs). There is an element of putting these costumes on and going, 'Haha, look at you.' We had to laugh at ourselves to get over all that. It's another reason for training your balls off and making sure that you are so focused that that goes out of your mind. Also, you're surrounded by so many guys wearing the same thing - a couple of days and that feeling is gone. Then it becomes. "I'm so glad I'm wearing this." - I felt alive. It was so incredible to have that support because you use that and let it come out in a way that you feel that your focus could blow away a million people.
Q: Zack Snyder (director) was talking about your first meeting with him in the coffeeshop. What were your impressions of that meeting?
Zack can be described to me by my agent as a really nice guy but a film geek. I expected to meet a really geeky guy, but then I met this cool athletic guy with tattoos down his arms - his forearms were whiter than my car. He had all his stuff prepared, and I loved that he would spend his time showing me. Of course, my paranoia was that he was going through the motions, but we had such fun together and we were both so expressive that I just knew who Leonidas was and I knew that I could abandon myself to that. We just had a blast and I went away there going, 'Now, that couldn't have gone as good as I thought it was. He's just obviously the nicest guy in the world.' Then I heard, 'He really likes you.' To me, this feels very destined for me to meet Zack. There was a certain point in my career when I was going, 'I'm not doing this kind of film anymore.' Then, seeing this, I said, 'Okay, I can give all of those things that I always wanted to give, pull them together and have a different take on them with a director who's at a similar point.' It was like a great combining of the two. With what Zack did, it blows me the hell away. I'm still shocked. He really has made it work on every level without seemingly any effort.