It's the first honest-to-goodness film phenomenon of 2007. And like any great conversation starter, the ultra-violent epic "300" is spawning lots of chatter and debate. So as you get your fix of Spartan glory, director Zack Snyder has 30 fun facts you might not know about "300."
1. Snyder was the only guy not at the movies on Friday night.
"I was home. My wife was under the weather and I was just getting over something, so we were kind of hiding."
2. He even likes flicks without decapitations.
"I like subtle movies. My personal taste in movies really isn't always for a gonzo freak-out. I liked 'Little Miss Sunshine.' "
3. Mixed reviews don't bother him.
"The bad reviews are so fun. Stuff they say, like, 'Zack Snyder has made homoeroticism safe for homophobes,' is priceless. As soon as I hear 'neocon' or 'homophobic' in the review, I laugh to myself and say, 'OK, this person has lost their inner child somewhere along the way, too much time in film school.' "
4. He really didn't mean to make a political statement.
"I'm pretty obvious. It's not like: 'Zack Snyder weaves his web so subtly. He's the most subtle filmmaker of our time.' I mean, come on! 'The Watchmen' will be political!"
5. "300" is not about the dialogue.
"Someone said, 'There's the perfect amount of dialogue in the movie. It's just enough for you to turn to your friend and say, "Did you f------ see that?" ' "
6. There was a little more dialogue in the first draft.
"There was a little more character development. There was stuff with the Captain and his son, sitting around the fire talking about war."
7. It's not as CGI-heavy as you think.
"It's virtual matte paintings. I call it a low-tech movie because it's such a simple concept: putting people in front of painted backdrops. It's like a student film on steroids."
8. Some re-shoots turned out even better.
"The sequence in battle one, where [Gerard Butler] breaks out and it's that long tracking shot where he chops and hacks everyone to bits, we had to shoot twice because the first time the piece of equipment we had didn't work."
9. $60 million can go a long way when you don't have any stars.
"I wanted to make an R-rated movie and I wanted to make Frank Miller's version of '300' with no stars. You present the studio with that formula and they go, 'That's a lose/lose/lose situation.' I'm proud that they gave me that much money."
10. Making "300" wasn't as easy as you might have thought.
"We feel sorry for the studios that give $60 million to the next guy and say, 'Make me a "300." Here's your blue screen, give me an epic!' "
11. CGI elephants are expensive.
"Our rhinos and elephants were the things that broke the bank. That's why there aren't a lot of them."
12. Believe it or not, "300" earned its R rating easily.
"With 'Dawn of the Dead' it took me four or five tries to get an R. With this, for some reason, it wasn't that way."
13. Rodrigo Santoro, who plays Xerxes, knows how to go with the flow.
"Rodrigo's look goes into the stratosphere of bizarre land. The great thing about him was he just went with it."
14. Xerxes isn't for everyone.
"The people I made the movie for, people like myself, love Rodrigo in it. He's fun. One of the major gay Web sites likes the movie and one hates it. And they pick out Rodrigo in particular."
15. Queen Gorgo was almost a factory girl.
"I met a bunch of people for Lena Headey's part, but I kept coming back to her. I met with Sienna Miller and a bunch of people. Gorgo needed to be hard and beautiful at the same time and I just wasn't getting that from anyone else."
16. Don't look for Gorgo's tale in the book.
"By far the biggest deviation from [Miller's story] was anything with Gorgo after the Spartan soldiers leave. That's not in the graphic novel at all."
17. Gorgo did well for herself after that whole stabbing thing.
"In the true history her son became king. She just kind of hung out as the matron."
18. The choice of narrator was new but the language was faithful to Miller.
"The way Frank writes is he'll do a drawing and he'll do a box in the drawing with some descriptive prose. Everything the narrator says is from that prose. So it was just a way to get that in the movie."
19. Those actors really were in shape. No CGI there.
"It was all them. It's just iron and the way we created the film that makes it look like the way it looks."
20. Leonidas could take out Russell Crowe's Gladiator.
"He would stomp Maximus into the ground. No two ways about it. He doesn't have the same rules that apply to Maximus, like gravity. Leonidas can do stupid crazy 'Matrix'-y stuff."
21. This stuff really happened! Well, most of it anyway.
"The events are 90 percent accurate. It's just in the visualization that it's crazy. A lot of people are like, "You're debauching history!" I'm like, "Have you read it?" I've shown this movie to world-class historians who have said it's amazing. They can't believe it's as accurate as it is."
22. Besides, it's an opera, not a documentary.
"My movie is more like an opera than a drama. That's what I say when people say it's historically inaccurate. You have to understand the convention I'm working in. Everything is at 11."
23. Yeah, that death scene should have looked familiar.
"John Boorman's 'Excalibur' was an influence. It's one of my favorite movies. The way that the Captain dies when he pulls the spear into himself is the same as the ending of 'Excalibur.' "
24. Snyder also took inspiration from some unlikely places.
"Caravaggio paintings and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel were influences too."
25. Yes, there's more on the DVD.
"This is in rough form on the DVD: At the beginning of the rhino and elephants battle, there was a sequence I designed with these Albino giants which had their arms lopped off and these little hooks on them. And riding on their backs are these elfin archers. These giants have harnesses on their heads so they're being steered like horses. And one of the Spartans hacks the leg off a giant and they fall down."
26. It's OK to laugh at that hacked-off-leg scene.
"When you watch the fight scenes, you should be giggling. When you see a guy's leg hacked off, you should be like, 'Awesome!' "
27. And yes, for you hunchback fans, there's more Ephialtes on the DVD too.
"There're also some more hunchback scenes that got cut because of time."
28. Despite Miller saying he's thinking sequel, don't hold your breath.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see it [from Frank] for 10 years. Maybe we can combine a 'Dawn of the Dead' sequel with it and make it a zombie apocalypse."
29. That shot of "The Watchmen" in the "300" trailer? It's just a test shot.
"It wasn't for mass consumption. It was a test where I was trying to figure out costumes and look. That was one of my producers playing Rorschach. I shot that in Pasadena [California] just down the street from my house."
30. Stay tuned for "Watchmen" casting news.
"I think we're a couple weeks away."
Check out everything we've got on "300."
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