SILVERSCREEN ISLAND, Second Life — Is it rude to take off your pants during a press conference, or would the Spartan soldiers of "300" approve of my defiant ways?
On Friday (March 16), the people behind the country's #1 movie (see "'300' Destroys Box-Office Rivals With Record-Setting Haul") ambled into the virtual world of "Second Life," where hundreds of media and fans questioned writer Frank Miller, director Zack Snyder and stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey and Rodrigo Santoro. The group revealed juicy details about Tom Cruise's involvement with "Watchmen," Butler's remake of "Escape From New York," and sequels to "Sin City," "Dawn of the Dead" and even "300."
But first, I had to figure out how to stop flying headfirst into the wall. "Larrycarroll!," a "Second Life" resident named Zoloft Zenovka screamed at me through the chat box, embarrassing me in front of everyone. "Can you please sit down? I can't see Frank!"
For those unaware of the phenomenon, "Second Life" is an online land where people walk around "Sims"-style using avatars — earning money, making friends and even picking up weaponry. After a brief signup period creating a cyber-stud named "Larrycarroll Carnell," I entered the amphitheater-like room where all sorts of winged beings, barely clothed sexpots and latte-sipping hipsters sat in a circle, hanging with the avatars of the "300" crew.
Soon enough, the stars fielded questions while I attempted to take Larrycarroll off the "fly" mode that had him levitating and banging into walls due to my accidental clicking.
"I think the innovation of my avatar is amazing," Snyder said, looking over his "Second Life" self. "I'm quite fancy."
"Mine has large boobs," laughed Headey, who sexily laid across the couch. "I'm happy with that."
"I like my hat," laughed Miller, whose icon had a giant chapeau much like the one he wears in real life.
Getting down to business, Snyder was asked what fans could expect from the "300" DVD. "The cut of the movie is the same, but one of the [deleted scenes] has these albino giants with elves riding on their backs, and they're shooting arrows at the Spartans," Snyder said (see " '300' Trivia: Albino Giants, Sequel Chances — And Sienna Miller"). "[Actor] Vincent Regan cuts the leg off one of the giants and then jumps on the giant and stabs the little midget, who's on the ground wearing an elf hat. It's really kind of sad."
Snyder also addressed a question from the avatar Gregor Dagostino, who brought up the online petition demanding an apology to Iranians, who are descendents of Persians. "I think the truth is that we weren't trying to be mean to anybody or make a film that was denigrating to any race," he said. "It just happened to be the way the story was rendered. I hope that people who were offended by the movie realize that wasn't our intention."
As for a "300" prequel or sequel, Snyder urged fans to harass the man who originally drew the graphic novel. "There would only be a sequel even talked about or considered if Frank wrote one, and then that would be up to if Frank wanted to do it, so it would be a long ways away. Frank, you did mention once that you had a sequel in mind about the bad guys? You said that to me once."
"I do know exactly what the sequel would be," Miller responded with a chuckle. "But I'll say to you the same thing that I've said to the people at Warner [Bros.]: That's all anybody gets without paying."
Asked whether he'll ever revisit "Dawn of the Dead," Snyder joked that he might just combine it with "300" and kill two birds with one stone. "What you don't realize is that something happens to the Spartans at the end of the movie [and they become zombies]. ... 'Tonight, we dine on brains!' will be the tag line."
As Snyder's publicist shot me an e-mail asking, "Are u flying into the screen??," I finally stopped colliding with the movie footage being shown behind the stars and found the "sit" button on my "Second Life" controls.
Meanwhile, conversation turned to the "Escape From New York" remake that will have the suddenly hot Butler taking over Kurt Russell's Snake Plissken role. "We have Ken Nolan, who wrote 'Black Hawk Down' and is writing the script," the Scottish actor said. "I think there's a chance to make something really cool and different and exciting. We don't have a director, but I'm excited about the idea of it. When you mention it to people [they get excited]; it could be something pretty out there."
It's right about this time that I uncovered the intriguing command titled "take off clothing" and asked the publicist if I should. "Streak streak streak!!!!," she replied.
The talk in the room, meanwhile, switched to Snyder's long-awaited "Watchmen" movie (see "Director Zack Snyder On 'Watchmen' Flick: 'I Don't Wanna Screw It Up' "). "We're trying to make it an R-rated movie, and the studio is grappling with the concept of an R-rated superhero movie," said Snyder, whose virtual self wore jeans, a black T-shirt and green baseball cap. "That's a thing we need to work out, but I think they're excited about it, as opposed to their stance in the past that no one would go to see an R-rated movie. The success of '300' has changed that a little bit."
Asked if he had any "Watchmen" actors to announce yet, Snyder laughed. "No, no, the deals aren't done yet. ... I'm sure as soon as I say somebody [publicly], they'll go, 'Oh, I need more money!' "
At that point, Butler — who has been rumored to be playing a character in the "Watchmen" film — teased, "I need more money!"
Snyder also confirmed that he had been speaking to Mr. Katie Holmes, but those talks have since broken down. "Tom's not going to do it," Snyder said of Cruise. "He's a sweet man, but he just doesn't want to do it."
At this point, my icon laughed out loud inappropriately for some reason, perhaps further angering Zoloft Zenovka. Miller, meanwhile, gave fans an update on "Sin City 2."
"I just saw Robert Rodriguez the night before last, and we've nearly got the script," he said. "We intend to go into prep sometime in the next six weeks, and we're hoping on shooting by June."
The cast of "300" soon began wrapping things up — possibly because I had revealed my anatomically incorrect self just a few feet away from an unimpressed "Second Life" Frank Miller.
"I'll be honest," laughed Headey, perhaps watching me on her screen. "This is a little weird."
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