'300: Rise of an Empire' Hollywood Premiere Celebrates Strong Female Leads

Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP
Castmembers Jack O'Connell, Eva Green, Callan Mulvey and Lena Headey

"At the head of it, there’s an unapologetic woman as strong as any male lead," said director Noam Murro at the screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Two days after Hollywood Boulevard buzzed in Academy Awards fervor, the black carpet was rolled out for the premiere of director Noam Murro’s 300: Rise of an Empire.

Stars Eva Green, Lena Headey and Callan Mulvey attended the Los Angeles premiere with Man of Steel helmer Zack Snyder -- who co-wrote and produced the film -- ahead of the screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Imax 3D on Tuesday.

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Absent from the event was leading man Sullivan Stapleton, who was injured in Thailand where he was shooting Cinemax’s TV series Strike Back (the production of the show has gone on hiatus due to Stapleton's injury, as the actor does a lot of his own stunts).

“We’re so bummed that he’s not here with us,” producer Deborah Snyder said. “But when you have a head injury, they don’t want you flying, and we just want him to be well.”

Rather than a continuation sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire has been touted as a companion film -- a new chapter in the historical drama, with events taking place concurrently with events in the 2007 film 300. The epic, hitting theaters on March 7, focuses on general Themistokles (Stapleton) who leads the charge against invading Persian forces led by mortal-turned-god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and the vengeful Artemisia (Green).

Director Murro spoke to THR about the “significant thematic differences” of the Warner Bros. film, particularly in terms of characterizations.

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“There’s two great female protagonists in it,” Murro told The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s a huge component of it: the idea that at the head of it, there’s an unapologetic woman as strong as any male lead.”

That unapologetic woman -- Artemisia, played by Green -- credited the script for her powerful, theatrical role.

“When my character is so big, that’s why I say theatrical,” said Green, who wore a nude beaded Elie Saab gown to the premiere. “Like in opera or something, it’s not trivial.”

Producer Mark Canton mentioned the narrative challenges of his companion work, explaining how the original “changed the whole landscape of the way films are made” in this respect. “The bar is raised,” Canton said. “I think that’s why everyone is here tonight … it’s an epic, and this is not the last one.”

“There’s many more, many more,” producer Gianni Nunnari added. “That’s our job: to raise the bar and catch the bar, so you have to do it all the time.”

With respect to the screenwriting process, Snyder felt confident about the balancing of historical context and creative license transmitted in the final product. “The thing with 300 -- the great thing about Themistokles -- all those things resonated because that was the place where a lot of poetry was enacted.”

“When we were first talking about it, we were toying with taking more license,” Deborah Snyder explained. “But in the end, when we distilled it all down, it ended up being much more true to history.”