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300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE Images featuring Sullivan Stapleton as Themistocles

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In 2006, the film “300” told the epic story of the fierce battle waged between King Leonidas’ outnumbered Spartan warriors and King Xerxes vast Persian army at the battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. As history dictates, a simultaneous struggle took place on the neighboring Aegean Sea when the underdog Greek navy fought the Persian fleet at Salamis.

Considered to be more of a parallel film to the original, “300: Rise of an Empire” chronicles the fight at sea that distinguished Greek general and politician Themistocles (actor Sullivan Stapleton) as the savior of all Greece. The sequel will take its cue from the original with the same visual look. This is what director Noam Murro had to say about this highly anticipated late summer film.

“Empire is tied visually to the original, but with so much happening within small boats, there is a whole different choreography of fighting and war.”

With “300” primarily taking place at the narrow pass at Thermopylae, the sea battle allows the scale of the movie to change. Murro pointed out the advantage of entertaining audiences with different locations for the battles.

“The opportunities for the six distinct battles are even greater with different locations and tactics.”

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Murro went on to discuss the general theme of the film.

“The few against the many is still here, it’s hundreds vs. hundreds of thousands. It’s about taking on the mightiest power of all with wisdom and tactics.”

“300: Rise of an Empire” will have actress Eva Green portraying Artemesia the vengeful commander of the Persian navy, who is second in command to the mortal-turned-god leader Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro.) She has the added incentive of seeking to settle a blood score against the Greeks who killed her family when she was a child.

“She does most of Xerxes’ dirty work in this film. She’s seeking revenge, and she does it well,” says Stapleton. “She’s a force to be reckoned with.”

Amen, says Murro: “She’s got sex appeal, she’s ruthless and conniving. All the things that kill men. And she has a sword. I wouldn’t mess with her.”

Zack Snyder, who directed the 2006 film, co-wrote the screenplay for Rise of an Empire and incorporated thematic differences on everything from the hero-general to the people he leads. Themistocles is a more complicated leader than the original’s Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler.)

“Themistocles is battle-scarred and a warrior, but at the same time he’s a politician,” says Murro. “He’s not the king. He has to rule in a democracy. It’s a different complexity of character.”

His fighting men — drawn from humble citizenry —— are not the born-and-bred fighters that the Spartans are either.

“These people don’t want to fight, they even say that they are not Spartans,” says Murro. “They are common people who have to do this to not be in under the rule of a dictator. This is not a duplicate movie or a cookie-cutter. It’s a very different story to tell in keeping with the original flavor of 300.”

The action/drama “300: Rise of an Empire” will open in theaters on August 2nd. The film stars Lena Headey, Eva Green, Andrei Claude, Mark Killeen, Rodrigo Santoro, Sullivan Stapleton, Jack O’Connell, Hans Matheson, Andrew Tiernan, Caitlin Carmichael, Callan Mulvey, Andrew Pleavin, Ashraf Barhom, Yigal Naor, and Luke Roberts. Kurt Johnstad and Zack Snyder wrote the screenplay, which is based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller. Noam Murro directs.

Sources: USA Today, IMDb