Director Noam Murro and producers talk from the movie's Bulgarian set
SOFIA, BULGARIA. "Show no mercy and give no quarter!" bellows Eva Green, as she strides confidently out of a ship's state room, through a sea of masked men. Wearing a badass, fringed leather tunic with metallic highlights in front and spikes poking out of her back, she paces towards the camera once, twice, three times.
"Today, the last Greek ships will be destroyed," she announces over and over again. That first line remains the same with every reading, but Green keeps varying the second line, barking the order in different directions, varying the clarity and the emphasis.
After each take, Green returns to her character's state room. Director Noam Murro isn't making refinements to Green's performance, though. The Persian queen Artemisia is assertive, loud and sexy and she's not the problem. The problem appears to be the obscured men referred to as proto-samurais. They're clad in heavy, layered armor and they're wearing matching versions of what seems to be a more bellicose version of the famed masks of Melpomene, the muse of tragedy. The masks, which come in several complicated pieces, are bedecked with threatening metal dreadlocks, so we may be comparing them to samurai, but a better antecedent might be The Predator.
It's hard in here for a proto-samurai. To begin with, they have to be giving expressive performances, even though their faces are completely covered and they're almost entirely immobile. They can't remove the masks wearing their gloves and they can't remove their gloves without the help of assistants. So between shots, some of the proto-samurai remain in full costume, while others get help from scurrying assistants so that they can get water or scratch an itch.
It probably won't be the case when "300: Rise of an Empire" is released, but on this September day in 2012 at Sofia, Bulgaria's Nu Boyana Studios, the proto-samurai are the stars of the movie.