"300" Max

MF: What's the best part about 300-the visuals or the violence?

DW: It's a combination of both. It's striking; I don't think a movie has ever looked like this before. And there's quite a bit [of gore]. The director was adamant from day one that he was going to make an R-rated flick. He didn't want it homogenized and watered down. He wanted to make it as graphic and visually affecting as possible.

MF: How challenging were those larger-than-life fight sequences?

DW: It involved a hell of a lot of training. All the actors did their own stunts, 100%. We were all taught how to fight from scratch-no body doubles. But when you actually pull [the scene] off and have effectively killed 20, 30, 40 people in some really cool and funky ways, it is a great thrill. I know how to kill someone in less than a second now.

MF: The movie was shot entirely with blue screen. What was it like acting when there was really nothing there?

DW: I didn't find it a problem. I didn't have to imagine that there were other actors there. They were physically there-we were actually making contact with sword and spear and shield. Blue screen was there mainly to drop in the background later. But after three months of looking at that blue color, you start going crazy.

MF: Let's talk about the costumes of 300, or the lack thereof. Were you taken aback at how revealing they were?

DW: I've got to admit, yes. The first time I saw the graphic novel, I freaked out. My character's first appearance in it, he's totally nude. He's around a campfire telling a story, and I thought, "What sort of movie am I getting myself into?"

MF: When most actors find out they're going to be nearly naked on-screen, they beef up their workouts. Did you?

DW: Without a doubt! I was at the gym twice a day, every day, before I got on that plane to go to Montreal. Once the actors and roughly 50 stuntmen arrived there, we were put through two more months of an extremely rigorous training program. It was a pretty "Spartan" workout: We used medicine balls, kettle bells, rings for pushups. And after 30 reps of cutting movements [with a sword], it did feel like your shoulder was about to let go of your arm. It was extremely grueling but great. If you put in the effort, you reap the reward.

MF: Between the nudity and the fighting, the 60-day shoot sounds pretty rough. Any battle scars?

DW: There was blood drawn on the set numerous times, and a couple of the guys did get carted off to the hospital. We were working with weapons that could poke somebody's eye out. But I didn't do too badly. A few ankle twinges, but nothing too serious. [Laughs]

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