Comic-Con Live: Warner Brothers presents 300
by Alex Billington
July 22, 2006
10:29AM - Just about waiting to start… close to start time.
Panel features: creator Frank Miller, director Zack Snyder, and actors David Wenham and Gerard Butler.
Read on for some exclusive details from Frank Miller!
10:32AM - Room is nearly full… a lot of people already camping out in here for Spider-Man 3 and Kevin Smith (and the rest that goes on today). Still waiting and getting pointless statements from a random show staff guy on stage.
10:35AM - Programming Director for Comic-Con comes out to start introducing everyone for the 300 panel.
10:40AM - Time to start the 300 panel after some introductions of producers and studio reps from 300. Zach Snyder, the director, first to come out. Next was David Wenham, Gerard Butler, and last, the man himself, Frank Miller.
10:40AM - Time for the trailer exclusive.
Description: "Spartans, tonight we dine in hell!" "Spartans, the finest soldiers the world has ever know." Lots of slow mo scenes. Fighting mythical creatures, all kinds of action scenes. Simply astounding trailer - the best one shown so far at Comic-Con!
Chants for an encore of the trailer because it was "so good."
We've done it, it starts again, the encore has been granted!!
AMAZING TRAILER - AMAZING!!
10:47AM - Audience Q&A.
1 - Asking about that the backgrounds look like they were drawn by Frank (in the trailer).
Frank said that they were drawn by, I believe, Lynn Miller (?).
Zach: When they were looking at the movie, they looked at Frank's 300 graphic novel and said let's do it like that, and let's not fuck it up.
2 - Asking Frank Miller, did he guest direct?
No, "this is all Zach's movie."
3 - How did you relate to the sacrifice that Leonidas had to make?
Gerard: How did I relate to having to make the ultimate sacrifice? It relates to the sacrifice that I had make to do this film. Everybody really gave their life and the souls for this film, and that relates to the sacrifice that they had to make at the end. At times they were ready to kill and ready to die. "I don't know if that's the right answer, but it's the first thing that came to my head."
4 - Some collectors made a bronze statue of Faramir for David Wenham and gave it to him.
5 - Asking what Gerard did to get into this role?
As playing the king, he really wanted to try to get the respect of the rest of the crew and really worked his "little buttocks" off (cheers from the ladies in the audience). He's been training for months before the film started. He did 2 hours with each of his 2 trainers and then 2 hours of sword fighting and so on… He would then train on set and "pump" on set. It really goes a way to give him a feeling of strength and determination. He also did some reading on some books that Zach gave him.
6 - Asking what the biggest challenge was transfering info from graphic novel to movie?
The cool thing is that a movie is pictures, too, says Zach. He kept saying, "let's just do the picture" because they have the picture (Frank Miller's novel) and not anything else. He had to train everyone to not do reality at first (and just do Frank Miller's images).
7 - For the actors, what was the reaction to the costumes you had to wear?
Ladies in the audience cheer - "I think we just heard it."
Gerard: I think I've never felt so stupid. After a couple of days you get used to it when you're surrounded by another 60 guys wearing the same things.
David: After he was cast, he bought the Frank's book. On page 3, his character appears and his first image is him standing naked over a fire, and the "panic button" appears (in his mind). A little bit of training and what not and it was fine.
8 - Any inspiration from the Gates of Fire books?
Frank: I've wanted to do this since I was 6 years old. It's a remarkable coincidence that the books came out at the same time. And the story is so compelling that every new generation should retell it.
9 - For both actors: did you find things in your characters that were common?
Gerard: "Being extremely intelligent… powerful, insane, charismatic, were all things I found I didn't have." He said for himself it's that he's very determined. This was definitely the most fun to get into because "Frank makes it so dark."
10 - How long did it take to film and where was it shot?
Zach: 60 days to film it and in Montreal, Canada. Makes a joke about that it is supposed to be Greece, and obvious comparison. David relegates his story about how heard he was wearing only a leather piece, filming in Montreal in the middle of winter and as a result had a nervous call with Zach.
11 - What's your favorite color?
David: Today, Red!
Frank: Nobody really cares…!
David: Back to 300.
12 - For Gerard, how do you feel about films with a lot of CGI or less CGI?
Gerard: It was actually very difficult to get used to. With Frank it's a very real life story, but with this, you're looking at cliffs that aren't there and armies that aren't there. It took a bit of getting used to. He had to relax a bit and get used to perfoming on the sets. It's not quite as fulfilling as an experience from the acting point of view. Everything is easily contained and you can get through the material (shooting) quickly.
13 - Asking about showing the relationship between "Greek men and… Greek men?"
Frank: "No, we call this fiction!"
14 - For the actors, besides wearing the costume, what else was the most difficult part of filming this movie?
Gerard: It was really the blue screen, that really took some getting used to. Also reminded by Zach that the capes were really a problem. After 15 hours of wearing the capes, his shoulders got really tired because they're so heavy.
Frank: "Spoken like a real Spartan."
Gerard: Joking about getting his sword caught in his cape when trying to take it out.
David: The hardest part was the training. His normal day to day training is "about 3 minutes long." It was physically exhausting but it was also mentally exhausting.
15 - For Frank: did you fly over to Greece to do research and what was it?
Frank: Yes… He took a tour to the Hot Gates, and it's not what it used to be. And now there is a freeway, and you park off to the side of the freeway and have to walk across it and climb up to the mount. If he hadn't sailed on the Aegean and saw the cliffs and the sea, he couldn't of done it. Anyone realizes that it was the land and the sea that were the Spartans biggest weapons.
16 - For the actors: what were the most rewarding experiences?
David: "Getting paid." Also working with Gerard and Zach and compliments for Zach and everything he was doing. And finally, the opportunity to work on a piece that was penned by a true legend.
Gerard: The same - working with a Frank Miller masterpiece. He's never been so excited to get involved with a film. It was such a great environment and great atmosphere on the set.
17 - Aside from everything in the trailer, the soundtrack stood out as well - will that be in the film?
Zach: That was a Nine Inch Nails track (specifically "Just Like You Imagined"), but he said he would try and do a little bit of both (the futuristic electro sound and classical).
Frank: Everything about this movie seems very timeless but contemporary. Zach changed the camera speed so the Spartans actually move like super-heroes when they swing their swords.
18 - How do you keep up with fresh new ideas?
Zach: We weren't trying to make a Batman or Superman. They really just tried to do what Frank had put down.
Frank: Disses Harry Potter and thinks that "what Zach has put together is really impressive."
19 - For Zach: how did a choreographer help?
They were really respectful and really cool, and if we needed a move in a certain spot they'd really help out. "It's a dance" and trying to figure out what makes sense and what looks cool. They know that as long as it looks cool it works.
20 - For Frank: is there one character or superhero you haven't done a comic on and want to?
Frank: There are so many. A number of the Marvel characters are really appealing. He'll get around to some, but mostly he likes to do his own stuff.
21 - For Gerard: which accent did you use?
Gerard: "They were supposed to be generic, but turned out pretty Scottish."
22 - For Gerard: what got you into acting?
Gerard: "Alcoholism…" Pretty much try spending 7 years of your life miserable training to be a lawyer, that's what got me into it. (More jokes…) He had a dream when he was 14 years old of being in a movie called Krull. Then he went to his mom and said he has to be an actor. "If that's what you want to do, just follow your heart."
23 - For Frank: do you find graphic novels pitched in Hollywood more succesfully?
Frank: "I haven't done much in Hollywood…"
Zach: Hollywood has gone through a long gestation period where graphic novels don't need to be fixed, just filmed.
11:29AM - Cheers to roll the trailer one… more… TIME! Such an amazing clip!
11:34AM - End of the 300 panel.