How Xerxes became a god and other stories…
Written by Helen O’Hara
The new footage of 300: Rise Of An Empire shown at Comic-Con today revealed a little about this wider story – both prequel, sequel and side-quel to 300 – in the film. Rodrigo Santoro, Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton, and director Noam Murro were on hand to talk about the footage.
The footage showed that previous Persian king Darius was killed by an arrow fired by Athenian Greek commander Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), leaving his son Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) to become King. The grief-stricken young man is taken under the wing of Persian naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green), who persuades the young ruler to court dark powers and make himself a god by making a deal with dark powers.
When he returns from the desert, he has had his humanity burned away and is ready to go to war – but the implication here is that Artemisia is the real puppet-master. We also see Lena Headey’s Queen Gorgo, grief-stricken but meeting with Themistokles to prepare a response to the Persian threat, and lots of battle scenes that reflect the original’s speed-ramping and sand-coloured aesthetic. The main difference is that the Athenians here wear blue cloaks rather than Spartan crimson.
“If you took 300 and you zoomed up, you get this movie,” said Murro. “It takes place about the same time; it’s just bigger and just gives a different scale and scope to what happened historically.”
“It was very exciting to return,” said Santoro. “We get a little more about his backstory, so there’s new stuff. I had to work out a lot – no carbs, no chocolate, no fun. But the most interesting thing is his personality. He titled himself a god-king, so we had to give him that look, but I’m much more interested in what he’s going through.”
“She’s the toughest character I’ve ever played,” says Green. “She’s so ballsy, brave, independent, fearless, ruthless. I call her a ruthless Joan Of Arc. It’s kind of a gift for an actor. She’s a Greek warrior woman raised by the King of the Persians, Darius, and he made her the commander of the Persian navy. It’s complicated, because when the king dies he makes his son swear that he will end the war against the Greeks, but she’s thirsty for vengeance against the Greeks because as a child mutinous Greeks killed her family, so she makes him go against the King’s wishes. It’s so cool to play strong, crazy women onscreen and then go back home and be a nerd and listen to classical music.”
“Themistokles is a Greek general who tries to unite all the Greeks,” says Stapleton. “He’s very strong, driven; a tenacious man who wears a denim skirt.”
300: Rise Of An Empire near-finished according to Murro, and hits cinemas in March next year.