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Clint Talks to Gerard Butler & David Wenham of 300

Category: 300 News
Article Date: February 28, 2007 | Publication: Moviehole | Author: Clint Morris

Posted by: DaisyMay

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"300" is one of this year’s most anticipated new blockbusters. Based on the renowned graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City), and directed by talented newcomer Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead), its set in the midst of the Persian-Greco war and revolves around the 480 B.C. Battle of Thermopylae, where Spartan king Leonidas led his army of 300 soldiers into battle against the invading Persian army. According to legend, their valor and sacrifice inspired all of Greece to unite against their Persian foe, leading to the origins of democracy.

Clint Morris caught up with the films stars, Scottish heartthrob Gerard Butler and acclaimed Aussie actor David Wenham – both looking a lot less built than they do in the film.

You’re a long way from Pearl Bay, David?
David Wenham: Indeed. Indeed.

We just saw some footage from the film. It looks great. It also looked like it was a pretty physically demanding film. Did you get hurt at all?
Gerard Butler: There were a few injuries.
David Wenham: I liked the results of getting fit, granted the results are gone, but I liked the results. It was intense. I’d never trained like that in my life before. I was paid to get the fittest I’d ever been in my life, so it was good.
Gerard Butler: At times it seemed like every day somebody else was being carted off to the hospital. There was a couple stunt men got injured. I don't know about you [turning to Wenham], but I pulled my groin at one point. And then I got drop foot, and I was flopping around, my foot was flopping around, for like six days, and then I damaged my shoulders from just doing too much, basically overdoing it.
David Wenham: He wouldn’t listen to me, I told him that would happen.

When did you start training for the movie, Gerard?
Gerard Butler: I started training a little earlier. I was training way before the movie started, and then I picked it up again when the movie got up in Montreal. I trained with two different guys. I loved it. It was intense, but it really built that bonding, and in some ways, camaraderie between the guys. At the same time, I haven’t been in a gym once we stopped. I have no wish to do so for quite a while either. I pretty much spent four months on a massage table after shooting this movie.

Can I just ask - what did the training involve?
Gerard Butler: Eating peanuts. But also, there was a lot of bodybuilding – lifting weights – and then of course we had the more aerobic side of things with the swords and the shields and the spears, and that was just, like, doing routine after routine and doing it again and again, to get that strength and that stamina and also to get that form. To really look like you knew what you were doing. So there was that, and that went on for months and months, and we'd be doing that between shots, jumping off in the gym with all the stunt guys. But it was great, I mean it was a lot of fun. Especially the early days, when we were all like pretty shitty at it.
David Wenham: I can remember those days [Laughs]

How does it feel to be involved in a movie that’s based on a book by the great Frank Miller?
David Wenham: I have to admit that when I was cast in the film I didn’t actually realise it was based on Frank’s book. I thought it was actually going to be a location piece – I thought I’d get to go to Greece. I then got hold of the graphic novel, and was informed that I’d be spending three months on a stage in front of blue screen!
Gerard Butler: Yeah, me too, I thought I’d be off to like Morocco or something. Then I saw the preview that they showed at the meeting and I said ‘that looks incredible, where is that?’ and they said ‘That’s a studio up at Montreal’. In saying that, Montreal is a fantastic city – I lived there for two years when I was a baby so for me, I loved it. We had a lot of fun there.

Is this your first foray into comics?
David Wenham: I read them as a kid and found them pleasurable, but I was never obsessed with comics. When I was on holidays I would bring a whole heap of comics with me – I’d go to a shop and buy a whole stack to see me through.

Knowing that “300” is something with such a large legion of fans, does it change the way you act at all – your performance?
Gerard Butler: I hope not. I’ve done a few of these kind of roles, where you’re taking on something or someone that’s pretty iconic or a cult figure (like Dracula and Phantom of the Opera), so the pressure’s on, but if you start acting for a certain person you’re not going about it the right way. You can only do what you can do. So no, you just have to trust what you’re doing is right.
David Wenham: I think the reassuring thing in this instance is that we knew Zack [Snyder, the director] was going to be terribly faithful to Frank’s book. It was literally going to be bringing that graphic novel to life. I’ve been fortunate enough to see the whole film and it is exactly that. Then to have Frank see it and Frank to give it his blessing is no small amount of approval. That’s just the best thing.

Yes, but because you were aware that they were going to capture the exact look of the comic, does that restrain you at all as a performer?
Gerard Butler: There were certain moments when Zack wanted it to look and be shaped the same way as it was in the comic, but I actually really enjoyed that. It gave you a certain amount of focus, a way of being and feeling. At the same time, if you are performing something that’s supposed to look like a comic there are certain freedoms that are limiting.
David Wenham: I agree. There are moments in there, I suppose you could call them the iconic moments of the book, that Zack wanted to capture precisely as is and then there are other times when Zack as a director would give you absolute freedom to explore within the world and the confines of the setting. So as a performer, no, I didn’t find it constraining in any way, shape or form.
Gerard Butler: I actually think the graphic novel gave some great ideas – the drawings, for instance. With a graphic novel, you’re trying to say so much with so little, so in a way we were trying to do the same thing, so it was fun to explore that and delve into that.

Now the big question: Did you suffer from chaffing?
David Wenham: [Laughs] My friends were all concerned about that when I was cast. They were like ‘Oh man, you’re going to get massive chaffing!’ But I didn’t experience it.
Gerard Butler: I did.
David Wenham: You did? Chaffing?
Gerard Butler: Yep, Yep.
David Wenham: Mine was always a little bit looser.
Gerard Butler: My thighs were just too big. I should’ve worked less on the thighs. [Laughs]


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