An award-winning actor in Brazil when he gained fame around the globe, Rodrigo Santoro now reprises his role of the magnificently adorned Persian God-King Xerxes from Zack Snyder’s 2007 worldwide hit “300” in the companion film, “300: Rise of an Empire.”
Based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel “Xerxes,” and told in the breathtaking visual style of the blockbuster “300,” this new chapter of the epic saga takes the action to a fresh battlefield—on the sea—as Greek general Themistokles attempts to unite all of Greece by leading the charge that will change the course of the war.
In “300: Rise of an Empire,” it is revealed how Xerxes became a God-King, a metamorphosis in which Athenian general Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton) and Persian navy commander Artemisia (Eva Green) each played a significant part. Rodrigo Santoro says, “In the first film, you had no idea where he came from, so seeing his transformation brings more dimension to this character, and you understand the power behind his throne.”
Artemisia has the will to destroy the Greeks but, alone, lacks the power to wage war on them. However, with the death of Persia’s King Darius, at the hands of Themistokles, she sees her opportunity…and seizes it. Twisting Darius’ deathbed warning that “only the gods can defeat the Greeks” to her own ends, she convinces his son and heir, Xerxes, that he must now become a God-King.
Director Noam Murro says, “I have always felt that the relationship between Artemisia and Xerxes is one of the most intriguing facets of this movie. Is it only she manipulating him or is there manipulation from both sides? Is she using him to take her revenge on the Greeks, or is he using her to get the power he wants because she is a brilliant general and can fulfill his ambitions? It was important that we not make Xerxes look like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s warped and evil, but he is not a fool.”
Santoro notes, “The great thing about ‘Rise of an Empire’ is that we get to see Xerxes as a young man and understand how he transformed himself into this amazing being. The way I see it, it was an act of courage on Xerxes’ part because he had to commit himself to a kind of death before he could experience this rebirth.”
Producer Bernie Goldmann says, “Through Rodrigo’s performance, you feel the power of Xerxes in his godlike form, but he also has moments early on where you get a glimpse of the man he had been. I think it adds more depth to the character, and Rodrigo did a terrific job bringing that duality to light.”
“The origin story of Xerxes came out of one of Frank Miller’s concepts,” producer Zack Snyder offers. “I think the fun of telling it is making mythology out of reality, which has been happening around campfires since the dawn of time.”
Physically, perhaps the most daunting task fell to Santoro who, almost seven years after filming “300,” had to appear onscreen as if no time had passed. The actor had to measure up to the standards of a god to portray Xerxes. Santoro attests, “The process was as intense as the first one—hours and hours in the gym and weeks and weeks without ice cream or chocolate. But that’s the price you pay to be a God-King,” he smiles.
Opening across the Philippines on Thursday, March 06 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D, 2D and 30mm format, “300: Rise of an Empire” is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.