Director: Noam Murro
Co-Stars: Sullivan Stapleton, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O’Connell, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham
Written by: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad
Based on: Xerxes, a graphic novel by Frank Miller
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Greek general Themistocles leads the charge against invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes and Artemisia, vengeful commander of the Persian navy.
Eva Green’s Role
Eva plays Artemisia, the vengeful commander of the Persian Navy. Artemisia was born Greek but fights for the Persians after being taken in and trained by a Persian Emissary.
On her character Artemisia
“Yes. I kill people, and I’m not very nice, yes. [Laughs] It’s pure villainy. You know, lots of actors will go, “No, she has cracks, she’s human.” And of course you learn about her backstory and how she’s been betrayed by her own countrymen and it has kind of hardened her heart big time. The only challenge is to find maybe some jubilation in this because yeah, she’s just… mental. She has no conscience and she can’t tolerate incompetence, and anybody who doesn’t follow her orders, just [snaps] “Off with his head!” You can’t do that in real life, really.”
“God, I mean, she’s pretty full-on. First of all, she’s a woman at the head of the Navy, which is pretty unusual. She’s ballsy and there’s something very virile about her; she’s gifted with weapons and she’s ruthless. She can’t tolerate morons or cowards. And she’s driven by, and almost blinded by, vengeance.”
“Killing is not good. But this part is so mad. When you play someone like this, you have to have some jubilation in it. She is a psychopath. I am so far from this in real life.”
“She’s a commander of the Persian armada, so she fights – she’s like a man. She’s another very, very strong woman that has some balls, that’s for sure.”
“She’s like a man in a woman’s body. She’s so gutsy, ballsy, driven, and obsessed and she’s just like an extreme character. It’s kinda fun to play somebody like that. Because of the first 300, I knew I was in good hands, but it’s just a little boat, green screen, no water (that, I like because I get seasick) and that’s it but you have real actors and that’s like theatre.”
“She is a strong woman in an action film and we don’t have that many much often. She kicks some ass. She is strong. Completely irreverent. She is a man in a woman’s body. I think lots of women would like to be a man just for one day. Have the strength, have some balls, and be as strong as a man. She’s a woman, she’s still has sex appeal and all that but all the men are quite scared of her, but she can’t tolerate lazy people, morons, it’s off with his head straight away. She has no patience. She’s quite evil. It was two months of intense training for 4 hours in the morning, 2 hours of burpees, lunges and lots of fun stuff and then sword fighting that I loved and felt I was in an Asian film or something. It was very graceful. She’s Greek by birth and she was raised by the king of the Persian Empire and she’s driven by vengeance and it’s kinda lovely to have that back story because that kinda explains why she’s such a bitch. She kinda built that strong armor in order to survive so she’s a maniac just obsessed with vengeance. She’s quite crazy. I like complex, not obvious straight away kind of discover little by little what’s going on. I think girls are going to like it, I mean, they’re going to go with their boyfriend thinking ‘Oh my god it’s an action film,” but I think they are going to like it.”
“I think my friends will kind of enjoy seeing such a ballsy character and I hope they will still remain my friends after it.”
“She is so extreme and she has no patience, no respect. It’s full on. It’s fun to play madness.”
“It wouldn’t be my mum’s kind of movie. She keeps saying ‘You have to stop playing evil characters.'”
On why she signed up to do the film
“I like having to handle a sword and fight like a man. What girl wouldn’t be happy to be a man for at least one day?”
“I mean, I was worried a bit at the beginning of not being believable as a woman commander. You know, to have the authority to be believable — because you have all of these strong men and have to be believable as a great enemy. I think, actually, the physical training kind of gave me some kind of confidence, weirdly. And of course the costumes and all of this. It’s funny because in drama school I used to like playing Lady Macbeth or Cleopatra, so to be at the head of a ship was kind of — I felt like a little girl. Like, fun and, as you said, to go “all the way.” And she’s such a mad character; she’s bonkers, you know. She’s a man in a woman’s body. She’s so driven by vengeance, that she becomes quite blind.”
“I saw the first 300 film and the first Sin City film but I never really read the comics. I thought 300 was great because it’s so rare to play a warrior woman; being so physical was a challenge for me but it was really fun. Ok, it wasn’t a masterpiece but it was liberating! And then Sin City with Frank Miller was very stylish, an homage to the film noir, it was a fun experience.”
“I took it because I had never been in that kind of film; now I’m training like a man. I was dreading training, thinking it was going to be like the army.”
On her preparations for the film
“It was hard work! I mean, the main appeal for me to do this film was the physical stuff because I’m so not physical. I run every day and all this, but that was a big challenge to do the core work in the morning and squat and things like that. Actually, my favorite bit was learning how to fight with three swords … the thing is, when you finish shooting, it’s like a drug and you don’t do it every day anymore. And your body kind of asks for it again. I asked my trainer what I should do — what kind of sports would be good for me — and he said that boxing would actually be good for me.”
“The sword-fighting, the training – I’d never done that before, so I thought it was a great opportunity. I did proper training with the guys and I loved it. It was like being in the Army, but in a good way. I’m not a coordinated person, so it was tough. Sword-fighting is very precise – it’s like a dance. I trained for three months.”
“Well, there were warrior women that I read about, and Artemisia actually existed. My character in the film is only loosely inspired by her, but she was ballsy and went to war to win the heart of Xerxes. Which is very funny. I’m glad that’s not the case today.”
“I trained four hours a day with a group of stunt men from L.A. for three months before we began shooting. And then I continued training and sword fighting while we were shooting.”
On her costumes
“Some of these outfits are bonkers. I love them.”
“With the leather? Yeah, I can see that. I always try to take a hand in the costumes because you have to be comfortable. But my hair actually got caught in one of the outfits I wore. I was in the middle of this huge fight scene and had to go, ‘Oh f*ck, wait a second.'”
“You couldn’t lie down on your back. You had to lie on your stomach like some sort of weird animal.”
On the much talked about sex scene
“I mean, it’s more of a fight than a sex scene, really. It’s so violent that it was kind of staged as a fight scene. I love when it’s kind of clinical. Even a normal sex scene, actually, when they go, “You put your hand here and you here,” “How do you do? We’re going to have sex.” [Laughs] And here it’s two warriors having sex. They deal with violence every day, and this is how they do it. It’s kind of S&M without the leather. It’s not very romantic, let’s say.”
“The thing with sex scenes is, I mean, it’s not like we’re doing all the positions in the Kama Sutra and all that, but we have to make it different. How’s it going to be filmed? Is it gratuitous? Is it part of the story? There’s lots to consider. But that one, pfft, that was sex as a fight. I had bruises all over my body afterwards, and I smacked Sullivan!”
“Yeah, it’s not vanilla sex. I see it more like a fight scene. It’s not as daunting like, “Oh my god, I’m going to have a sex scene.” It’s all choreographed and we both had lots of bruises afterwards. It’s kind of S&M without latex.”
On acting on green screen
“You just have to use your imagination. We didn’t have any water — it was all digital. I think I would have died if it had been real water because I get seasick. I was, like, “Oh, my god is it going to move?” No, thank God. We just had some fans to look like it was wind and all that. It was all an illusion but I had real actors with me and that’s what matters.”
On staying fit while filming
“Well, that was true for the guys. They weren’t allowed any alcohol and they were on a special diet. Before each scene they had to do burpees and things with the weights and all that. But me? I was all covered up so I could smoke, I could drink wine [laughs].”
On working with Eva
“I said, ‘I would like you to cut off this man’s head and kiss it.’ and she said ‘OK.’ She understood the moment on every level, and she just did it.”
On Artemisia’s costumes
“There is an understanding that part of her power is her uniforms. These costumes are all by design.”
On working with Eva
“I wanted to thank her. She did such a good job holding this down on the female front. She’s a real bad-ass.”
On the sex scene
“I paid the director, so we kept doing take after take. No, we spent a couple of days doing it. It was choreographed. Sex scenes are funny things to shoot. It was a half-naked fight, really, with a much better looking enemy than most of my usual opponents. Sex scenes can be hard, and I guess it depends on your co-star, but we got along really well and it was easy to work with Eva. Doing those kinds of scenes I think sometimes might be harder for the women, but she was great. She kicked the shit out of me. She’s tough.”
Zack & Debbie Snyder
On casting Eva
“A lot of begging. We felt like she was the perfect person for the role and we had no idea if she said ‘No’, who would do it? She is amazing. She is so fierce, sexy, and strong. What’s funny is also how she says “Oh, I’m really not physical,” and then you watch her fight and that’s her and it’s pretty awesome! I think when she puts on the character she suddenly she forgets”
Eva’s character Artemisia
“I am Greek by birth, and I have Greek blood running through my veins. But my heart is Persian.”
“For glory’s sake…for vengeance’s sake…war.”
“It’s a curious thing for a simple ship guard… to not lower his eyes when questioned by me. That could’ve been just a lack of discipline. But a man’s hands do not lie. They can reveal every imperfection and flaw in his character. You see, your hands are not rough enough to work the rigging of this ship. I know every single man beneath my lash. Can you explain to me how I don’t know you?”
“For though I stand…among 10,000…I am alone.”
“Why is it so much to ask for victory?”
“Steel and flesh… life and death… war.”
“I will attack the Greeks with my entire navy!”
“Do not forget who put the crown on your childish head! My king. Now sit on your golden throne and watch this battle from the safety I provide you.”
“I’m not here as a witness.”
“If death comes, I’m ready!”
“Today we will dance across the backs of dead Greeks!”
“You fight much harder than you f*ck.”
Production Trivia & Facts
Has a run time of 1 hour and 42 minutes.
The film was previously called “Xerxes”, the title of the Frank Miller graphic novel on which the film is based, then it was later changed to “300: The Battle of Artemisia”, the title used during filming. Ultimately, the present title “300: Rise of an Empire” was used because the other two were deemed too exotic.
The film is a prequel, midquel and sequel to 300 (2006).
The film is credited as being an adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel ‘Xerxes’. However, it is an adaptation in name only. The script was written at the same time as the novel and not after the novel was finished so ultimately the two are different. In fact, as of the film’s release date, the novel is not even complete and Miller has reportedly drawn only 2 out of a projected 5 issues and none have been colored.
Filmed in New Boyana Film Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Eva’s appearances in 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014) makes her the only actor to have starred in two adaptations of Frank Miller graphic novels within the same year.
According to director Noam Murro, Artemisia’s costumes were inspired by the works of Alexander McQueen. McQueen is one of Eva’s favorite designers.
Eva did not audition for the role of Artemisia. Producers Zack and Deborah Snyder stated that they couldn’t think of anyone else to play Artemisia other than Eva. Furthermore, they stated that they are very lucky that Eva agreed to do the film as they had no second choice for an actress to play the role.
Lena Headey knocked on Eva’s dressing room door on her first day on the set to thank her for “holding this down on the female front”.
Lena Headey shot her scenes in only 10 days.
For the severed head scene where Artemisia had to kiss the severed head, Eva filmed it twice: first with the actor and second with a dummy (fake head on a wire). Eva had to hold the head up. It was very heavy that some crew members had to help her lift it.
Eva’s main worry about signing up in the film is that she won’t be believable as a female commander.
Eva loved Artemisia’s costumes so much that she took home one pair of Artemisia’s boots.
This film fulfilled Eva’s long held acting dream of playing an action hero in a movie.
Eva described her pre-production training as “extremely liberating and empowering”.
Eva described Artemisia as “the strongest, toughest, bravest character I’ve ever played”.
Rodrigo Santoro spent 6 hours in the make-up chair every single day to morph into his character. Even after the make-up was done, he couldn’t move much because all of the jewelry and piercing that he was wearing was very delicate and would break if he moved a lot.
Los Angeles-based fitness and training outfit Gym Jones provided the pre-production and filming training services for the all the actors, as they did in 300 (2006).
Awards & Nominations
Golden Trailer Awards (2014)
Nominated (Golden Trailer)
Best Fantasy Adventure – For the first trailer “Vengeance”
Best Music – For the music in the first theatrical trailer
Best Fantasy/Adventure TV Spot – For the TV commercial entitled “War Revised”
International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society’s Creative Arts Awards (2015)
Won (Creative Arts Awards)
Outstanding Use of 2D to 3D Conversion
Critics on Eva Green’s performance
Drew McWeeny, HitFix
“If you weren’t down with the first film, this one will not change your mind, but if you’re up for sea serpents, exploding fat men, and an impressively insane performance from Eva Green, then “300: Rise Of An Empire” should entertain you tremendously.”
Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
“The one to watch is Artemisia, and not just because Green gets the best costumes — leather and chainmail has rarely been as fetching — but because her character is as tactical a warrior as Themistokles, and she has a grudge to match…..Still, you couldn’t ask for a more magnetic villain than Green, whose fight choreography is incredible.”
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
“The film does feature at least one genuinely memorable performance by Eva Green, here playing Persian naval genius Artemisia with such gothic bloodlust that the only things she’s missing are fangs and a coffin to sleep in.”
Scott Mendelson, Forbes
“The film’s standout character this time around is not its hero but its key villain. As we quickly learn, Rodrigo Santoro’s would-be conqueror is all-but a pawn in the vengeful schemes of Eva Green’s Artemisia. It is hard to argue that Green “steals” the picture when she is one of its lead characters, but hers is the kind of unapologetic arch-villain role that is all-too rare for actresses. It is a terrific performance, and she is aided by a tragic back story that gives the whole film a moral depth that the first film lacked, one that all-but-mocks the self-righteousness of the first film. Green is flat-out spectacular here, giving a fully physical and genuinely shaded star turn that is almost as exciting as all of the hacking and slashing. She has a great confrontation with our hero that deliciously plays with the whole sex/violence shtick while offering real character development that somewhat pays off in the finale. She is worth the price of admission all by herself, and if there were more female roles of this nature in major studio releases I’d complain a heck of a lot less.”
Mick LaSalle, The San Francisco Chronicle
“The movie’s one genuine point of interest is perverse, and that’s Eva Green’s performance as the evil Artemisia, the naval commander heading the Persian attack on the Greek city states. With her black hair, pale white skin and murderous ways, she looks like the women in Edvard Munch’s lithographs and acts like a vampiric femme fatale of the early 20th century.”
Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice
“Admittedly, even if you’re not really one for digital effects, the whole enterprise looks pretty grand. Yet the finest spectacle in all of Rise of an Empire is a human being: Eva Green plays resident bad gal Artemisia, commander of the Persian navy. As a child, she watched as Greek soldiers raped and killed members of her family; then the Greeks made her a slave, violating her and leaving her for dead. She was rescued by Persians and trained as a warrior. Now she hates all Greek men — wouldn’t you? — though her hormones kick into love-hate overdrive when she gets a gander at Themistocles and his noble brow (among other attributes). But really, who’s looking at him? In her every scene — and thankfully, she’s in lots of them — Green’s Artemisia is something to behold. She makes her entrance in a fringed leather gown with a molded breastplate, sweeping into the Persian palace like a B.C. Morticia Addams. From there, her costumes become even more elaborate: There are one-shouldered numbers draped with chains and dotted with grommets, shimmery columns that resemble liquid metal, and, perhaps finest of all, a skin-tight sheath with a row of silver spikes running down her spinal column like a violent shiver. Artemisia wears gowns even onboard her ship, fer Chrissakes. Her over-the-topness — and, in one scene, her resplendent toplessness — really gets Rise of an Empire cooking. Green is a far better actress than she’s usually given credit for. In Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, her debut, she captured perfectly that bumpy stage in the growing-up timeline when you’re hoping to mask coming-of-age awkwardness with been-there, done-that sophistication. And as James Bond’s doomed love, Vesper, in Casino Royale, she blended gravity with vulnerability, a hard mix to get right whether you’re shaking or stirring. Green knows just what to do in 300: Rise of an Empire: She takes the dialogue seriously but gives each line a mischievous tweak. Artemisia commands her naval warriors as if she were telling them what to do in bed: “Today we will dance across the backs of dead Greeks,” she purrs, pronouncing the word dance “dahnse” — because that’s what an all-powerful enchantress would do. When she lowers her kohl-rimmed eyes, the sailors hear, and they obey. They’ll kill for her, and they’ll die for her. Green makes it all look like dahnsing.”
Alison Willmore, Buzzfeed
“Artemisia is the lone woman in a world of men, but, as played by Green, she’s neither challenged because of this nor acting as just another one of the boys. She’s her own wild creation, unfettered but readily feminine, whether leaping into battle or donning an increasingly intense series of battle ball gowns (culminating in a dress that includes tasteful golden bone-spikes along the spine). Green commits to her material, no matter how pulpy, which is why this cartoonishly outsized character, a highly fictionalized version of an actual historical figure, comes so vividly to life. She’s not simply hamming it up — she’s as soulful as she is scary.”/p>
Scott Foundas, Variety
“Anchored by Eva Green’s fearsome performance as a Persian naval commander whose vengeful bloodlust makes glowering King Xerxes seem a mere poseur, this highly entertaining time-filler lacks the mythic resonances that made “300” feel like an instant classic, but works surprisingly well on its own terms.”
Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
“The film has a fantastic ace card in Eva Green’s Artemisia — a magnificently vicious creation, an over-the-top badass who slices and dices her way through battle and then makes out with the severed heads of her vanquished enemies. (As the overripe narration tells us, “Her ferocity was bested only by her beauty, her beauty matched only by her devotion to her king.”) Green, the ingénue of Bertolucci’s The Dreamers and the Bond girl with a brain from Casino Royale, has so much fun with the part that they should do a spinoff movie just about her.”
Todd Gilchrist, The Wrap
“Otherwise, “Rise of an Empire” is all Eva Green‘s show, and she clearly relishes the opportunity to not only match but exceed her male counterparts’ supposedly indefatigable toughness. Though Green sees more action in this film than Headey’s Queen Gorgo did in “300,” the earlier heroine offered a promising template for female leadership, commanding respect while always remembering her place in this man’s world. But Green demolishes the era’s gender dynamics with a performance that plays like an act of revenge upon all of the b.s. love-interest roles she’s ever been offered. That Artemisia is Themistocles’ story-assigned opponent offers a welcome change in action-movie formula; that Green makes her a convincing adversary (physically as well as emotionally) is a testament to the actress’ talent and commitment”
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
“Even with the uniformly good performances — and the standout work from Ms. Green — 300: Rise of an Empire is foremost a triumph of production design, costumes, brilliantly choreographed battle sequences and stunning CGI.”
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com
“The ruthlessness of Green’s character is taken to extremes that meld Medea to the cheesiest serial you can name, and is hence delicious.”
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
“But really, the film belongs to Green — maybe the only actress ever to “graduate” from being a Bertolucci muse to a bloodthirsty action-flick dominatrix. With her raven hair, smoky voice, and leather fetish wear, she gooses the repetitive carnage into something deliciously sinister. In the movie’s best scene, she and her enemy Themistokles turn a discussion of surrender into a rough-sex brawl. Henry Kissinger she’s not.”
Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic
“The best thing about the movie, by far, is Green. Her Artemisia is a real nut case with a taste for blood, and Green is the only one in the cast who seems to be having any fun at all.
Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
“The only saving grace is Green, the reigning with-queen of cinema. The smoky-eyed French actress, best known for “Casino Royale:, “The Golden Compass” and “Dark Shadows”, throws her all into the performance, going bare-chested at times, bared-teeth at others. She’s like Elizabeth Taylor’s “Cleopatra” possessed by a succubus – which is a good thing. Without her, 300: Rise of an Empire would be bloodless and brainless.”