New heroes, new glory in '300: Rise of an Empire'

05:00 AM, Apr 09, 2013

An exclusive first look at an open sea battle from the upcoming film '300: Rise Of An Empire.' Warner Bros. Pictures/


Written By by Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY

Gird yourself for even more swords-and-sandals sparring.

Seven years after Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas spurred his 300 Spartan soldiers on to glory in 300 (and on to a $456 million worldwide box office), the companion film 300: Rise of an Empirewill explore a similar theme when it hits theaters Aug. 2. Though Empire takes place at the same time as the first film, the setting is now a sea battle against an overwhelming Persian fleet.

It’s not a prequel or a sequel,” says director Noam Murro. “It’s a different perspective and characters in the the battle between the Persians and the Greeks.”

Now it is the battle-scarred politician Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) who musters the Greeks to fight off the invading navy led by the god-king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his right-hand commander Artemesia (Eva Green).

The film features the same heavily stylized look that director Zack Snyder employed in the original. But there is a noticeable difference: The Greeks are a leaner bunch then the famously buff Spartans of 300.

These are warriors and they look good — and sexy,” says Murro. “But these are not Spartans. These are common Greeks — poets, sculptors and bakers — who came together to fight.”

Stapleton says rather than bulking up for the role, he lost 25 pounds to achieve the tough, wiry look. “I thought I was going to eat lots of chicken and broccoli and put on heaps of muscles. But it was the exact opposite. We were on a strict diet that leaned us right down.”

These new-look bods are highlighted in the famous 300 skimpy fighting costumes.

It was a scary costume fitting on the first day when they give you your outfit and it’s basically a pair of leather undies,” says Stapleton. “My daily costume was a leather codpiece and a denim skirt for three months.”