Now that a 300 spinoff is (according to the film's producers) an actual "work in progress," director Noam Murro and his creative team are on the prowl for a cast - one which looks to include Rodrigo Santoro, who appears all-but-set to reprise his turn as the maniacal jewel-covered Persian leader, Xerxes, from director Zack Snyder's 300 comic book movie adaptation.
The project was previously being referred to as 300: Battle of Artemisia. However, according to a new report, the title has been altered slightly to 300: The Battle of Artemisium.
For those not in the know: The Battle of Artemisium took place concurrently with the Battle of Thermopylae - which was portrayed in 300. "Artemisia", in this case, refers to the name of a woman who essentially leads Xerxes to his doom (Adam and Eve allegory, anyone?).
Here is how Moviehole describes the storyline for 300: The Battle of Artemisium (and the role Artemisia plays):
[WARNING MILD PLOT SPOILERS BELOW!]
Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) is somewhat pushed into the bloody battle with the Greeks by the gold-covered maven goddess Artemisia. Artemisia, witnessing just how much his father King Darius’s death has affected him, persuades Xerxes – with her “vindictive charm” – to go into battle against those responsible.
Artemisia tells Xerxes that he has no choice but to avenge his father’s death and has to man up before becoming king. So, he sets off to become a God because that’s the only way he can win the battle.
Artemisia, on her hunt for a group of men to join Xerxes in the battle against the Greeks, doesn’t stop at brainwashing Xerxes. She also manages to convince Themistocles [the part Joel Edgerton is in talks for] to side with her somewhat. Though the Persians took his family, and he’s spent ten years training the Greeks for battle, Artemisia has such an allure about her that the muscly Greek is taken. Ultimately, she convinces him that his life will be better off if he swaps sides. But this guy’s also as good a liar as he is a fighter.
Murro is reportedly looking for a smaller-name actress (or, at least, someone who is not a "star") to play the part of Artemisia.
Snyder and his 300 co-writer Kurt Johnstad penned the Battle of Artemisium screenplay - based on Frank Miller's Xerxes comic book story arc - and have seemingly designed the film as a bigger and badder swords & sandal epic than its predecessor. However, the semi-prequel could be somewhat of a trickier sell, seeing how it is largely told from the perspective of 300's antagonist, Xerxes, and paints the Persian leader as more a tragic figure who is corrupted by his newfound God complex (a la Shakespeare's Macbeth) - rather than a black-and-white villain, hellbent on world domination.
There's also some question as to what stylistic approach Murro will take to Battle of Artemisium. It would make sense for the director to imitate Snyder's brand of visual flair and preference for extreme slow-mo action in the 300 spinoff, from both a continuity and commercial perspective. Whether Murro can properly achieve such a task - or will end up producing a film that looks and feels like a weak imitation of 300 - remains to be seen.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of 300: The Battle of Artemisium (or whatever it ultimately ends up being called) as the story develops.