Actor Gerard Butler brings super-masculine violence to the role of King Leonidas in '300'
Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: March 1, 2007 | Publication: Weekender- The Tufts Daily | Author: Kristin Gordon
Gerard Butler, most widely known from his role as the Phantom of the Opera in the 2004 film adaptation of the play, has shifted time periods as well as physique in his recent portrayal of King Leonidas in the new film "300." The film transformed Frank Miller's comic book concerning 300 Spartan soldiers into a unique epic movie. In a conference call, Butler discussed his work with blue screen throughout the film as well as his physical and mental preparation for the brutal role of epic proportions.
Question: King Leonidas is a very ostentatious character. It's a very large, very strong character to play and I was just wondering; what did it take to prepare for the role?
Gerard Butler: Well first and foremost it has to be the physicality, because the physicality actually leads into so much of that strength of character, and the conditioning of the mind, and the self-belief, and self-confidence in your own kind of power and fearlessness, you know?
And so, for me, I was training six hours a day a lot of the time for seven months, and pumping on set in between shots. And really, when you're working it out, intensity keeps a fire burning inside you; and also, you can see the size of yourself ...
Q: How did you find working with the blue screen predominantly throughout the film?
GB: Well, I've worked with green and blue screens before, but it was a very different experience because then when it's only for short, it seems to be long and laborious; but this film is all blue screen. Everything was just wrapped in blue. It allowed for us to just get down to ... the drama and the action, and [to] actually have more time to focus on that. But you know of course, at times, it's strange because you don't have [a] natural environment. There has to be a leap of faith in that certain amount of imagination used.
Q: You've played so many roles, from Dracula to the Phantom of the Opera, [and] now to King Leonidas, and I was wondering; what do you do [differently] to prepare for each role, aside from the physicality of course? Is there a certain model you follow to get into character?
GB: In this role I am very focused on the graphic novel, because if you have a look at that the ... strength and power of these guys, it's almost monstrous and animal-like. You see that in every stance ... You couldn't be any more masculine or have any more kind of gravitas in every moment. So a lot of that feeling kind of came from that.
You kind of try and feel with that world. I mean that [the] graphic novel is so beautiful in creating a world that you're climbing into, which is kind of real, and yet at the same time, not real. And [it] deals with some pretty epic and mystic values ... and you kind of abandon yourself to [it].
And this is especially important where we're dealing with heroes who are so bold and so formidable, and really ... in some ways, taste of the villain ... They're exceptionally brutal, so for me it was really ... good to focus on that. What seems sometimes like an absolute lack of compassion that they had, in the end ... [that] makes them even more heroic, because they are completely unapologetic for their stance, or their way of living, or how they fought through this journey.
Q: What appealed to you about the role of King Leonidas when you first started looking at the script?
GB: First of all, I loved the script. There was a class and elegance about it, even though it is hard to have that while also at the same time being so violent and so brutal. And then you come across this weak character, which to me, you know, has nobility and valor that's not in question.
You immediately meet a guy [and], without having to do a thing, you can just tell from his presence that he has the absolute command and kind of unwavering loyalty of all of his men ... I can't tell you how many times I wanted heroes to take advantage of the opportunities ... to be a warrior who is just ultimately tough, and at the same time, ruthless. It's untypical of a hero. Heroes normally have to tread a moral path with integrity .