A tough gig for actors

Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: April 5, 2007 | Publication: The Courier Mail (Australia) | Author: Editors
Publication/Article Link:http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/

ACTOR Gerard Butler says the first time anyone ever called him fat was shortly after he landed the role of Spartan king Leonidas in the action blockbuster 300.

While he was far from overweight, Butler was about to go through a physical transformation which turned him into the rippling Spartan warrior in a film breaking box office records around the world. One of the main talking points of 300 was the ''bootcamp'' cast attended to turn them into the ripped Spartan warriors seen on screen.

The man responsible was US gym owner and former professional mountain climber Mark Twight, who decided from the outset he wanted the actors in his charge to not just look the part, but to be as physically fit as Spartan warriors would have been.

Twight, an old-fashioned ''no pain, no gain'' athlete, trained the cast for up to four months before filming began, using a combination of low-tech equipment (such as truck tyres, kettlebells and medicine balls) and mind games to mould his army.

Twight writes on the website for his Salt Lake City gym, Gym Jones: ''We prescribed random physical challenges to keep them off balance, to ensure they never knew what was coming, to cause a stress reaction, to break them, to make them look bad in front of each other, which eventually let them trust one another.''

On top of several hours each day in the gym, most actors were on low calorie diets (which heavily featured cottage cheese, nuts and grapes) to give them the lean bodies of warriors, rather than the stocky frame of body builders.

Lead actor Butler has said of the training camp: ''Pretty much anything Mark Twight offered up was so difficult in the kind of way where you wish you had never been born and, even more than that, wished he had never been born.''

Snippets from the actors training regime have reached suitably mythical proportions on the net with ''Spartan Workout'' clips all over YouTube.

Most of it revolves around Twight's 300 Workout which served as a hardcore ''graduation test'' for actors at the Spartan bootcamp.

The test involves completing the following reps without resting (and physiologists warn it's only for the superfit): 25 chin-ups; 50 deadlifts at 60kg; 50 push-ups; 50 box jumps; 50 floor wipers at 60kg; 50 clean and press manoeuvres at 16kg; and finally, 25 more chin-ups. It was completed by only one actor, Andrew Pleavin, who plays Daxos, leader of the Arcadians, who did it in just over 18 minutes.