The prospect of Resident Evil and DOA: Dead or Alive director Paul W.S. Anderson tackling the tragic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD that destroyed the town of Pompeii and killed most of its citizens was always going to be worth watching at least once. When Game of Thrones star Kit Harington was cast as the male lead, interest in Pompeii increased even more.
Based on the synopsis, it sounds like Anderson is attempting to do for Pompeii what James Cameron did for the Titanic: frame the disaster within the context of a love story, to make the eventual outcome all the more tragic. The majority of the film will be about Milo (Harington), a Celtic slave-turned-gladiator striving to get back to the woman he loves, Cassia (Emily Browning).
Speaking in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Harington gave a few more details about both the plot of Pompeii and about his own character, in particular his similarities to his character on Game of Thrones, Jon Snow:
“Milo is a Celt who is enslaved when he is a child and his family is killed. There’s a time cut that happens in the movie where you see me go from a child to a man, and you realize he’s been a gladiator for a long time. Eventually he’s taken to Pompeii... It follows [Milo and Cassia's] story till the volcano erupts.
“He’s a good swordsman and good fighter, and quite brooding, which is all of what Jon Snow is, and he doesn’t really speak a hell of a lot, even though I’ve got a lot of screen time. He kind of keeps himself to himself.
“The differences, and why I was interested in the role, were that Milo is completely set on vengeance rather than honor and justice. He’s an angry, angry man who doesn’t care what he does. For a large part of the film, he’s driven by pure rage.”
That's not all that's on offer, though. For those who are interested in seeing what Milo looks like as well as knowing what his motivations are, EW also released the first image of Harington in costume as the angry, brooding Celt gladiator with a soft spot for a Roman girl:
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Though Harington's costume might look like a male version of bikini armor, it is actually quite an accurate depiction of what gladiators would have worn at the time. His right arm is heavily encased in a protective wrap known as a manica, which is designed to prevent his sword arm from being injured by an opponent. It was also customary for most gladiators to fight with bare chests or torsos, and Harington's outfit seems to be designed to allow maximum speed and maneuverability - more Dothraki than Night's Watch.
Harington's ab window does serve the purpose of showing the results of the gruelling training regime that the actor decided to put himself through in the lead-up to Pompeii's shoot, as well as throughout its production. Though earlier photos show that he was already reasonably toned before becoming involved with Anderson's film, there is a noticeable change in his physique that was apparently hard-won:
“The first thing I said to [Paul] was, ‘Look, I'm playing a gladiator. I feel there should be a physical transformation, if he’s as strong as you say in the script. Maybe I should sort of tone up for that?' So I went into quite a heavy training regime five weeks before filming. I started by bulking up and then when I got out there I had four weeks to shred down and get toned. It’s a full-time job that you have to carry on for the whole of the movie. I was on a very severe diet and training six days a week. It’s the best shape I've been in, and I was hell-bent on getting in a certain way. When you get into that sort of training regime, it becomes addictive.”
Getting into shape is probably a good idea, considering how busy Harington is going to be in the near future; like several of his Game of Thrones co-stars, the Jon Snow role has won Harington a great deal of both attention and movie roles.
In addition to playing a key role alongside Sean Bean in last year's horror sequel Silent Hill: Revelations, he's also starring in Legendary Pictures' fantasy adventure The Seventh Son and even has a voice acting part as a villain in How to Train Your Dragon 2.
It's possible that Harington is becoming somewhat typecast, given that almost all of his roles so far are in historical dramas and fantasies, but it's still early days for this newcomer and he has plenty of time to break out of the mold. For the moment, however, his role in Pompeii is likely to be a strong draw for fans of the genre, and with the time before its winter release date closing in, we'll hopefully get a trailer before too long.
Pompeii will be out in theaters on February 28th, 2014.
Source: Entertainment Weekly