MOTW: The Cast and Characters of "300: Rise of an Empire"
The movie "300: Rise of an Empire" is an account of the famous Second Persian Invasion in the Greco-Persian wars. It takes place from 480 to 479 B.C., 10 years after the First Persian Invasion recounted in the movie "300." The sequel recounts the naval battles between the combined Spartan and Athens forces and Persia, which eventually results in a Greek victory.
One of the main characters in "300: Rise of an Empire" is intrepid leader Themistocles. Themistocles was both a general in the Athenian army and a politician, a rare individual who rose through the naval ranks not by dint of aristocracy but through his own merit. He played a huge role in the Second Persian Invasion after which the movie is based. As a politician he advocated and pushed for a large navy, which would become crucial in the eventual defeat of the Persians. Themistocles is played by Sullivan Stapleton, an actor who got his start in the TV movie "Baby Bath Massacre." He has since picked up small roles in TV movies and series. His big break came when he portrayed Craig Cody in "Animal Kingdom" and Jack Whalen in "Gangster Squad." He also played a main role as Sergeant Damien Scott in the TV series "Strike Back."
The second character of note in "300: Rise of an Empire" is Queen Gorgo of Sparta. She was the widow of King Leonidas, who died at the Battle of Thermopylae during the First Persian Invasion portrayed in the movie "300." Queen Gorgo was one of the most notable Greek figures, revered for her wisdom and one of the few females actually mentioned by name in Greek history. After King Leonidas died, her young son became king, which gave the queen a great deal of political power. She had a hand in the decision to ally Sparta with Athens, which greatly influenced the direction of the war. The role of Queen Gorgo is reprised by Lena Headey, who starred opposite Gerard Butler in the original movie "300" in 2006. Before this she acted in many notable movies, among which is "The Remains of the Day" and "Jungle Book." She even played Guinevere in the TV mini series "Merlin." Other projects include a part in the TV series "Game of Thrones" and a role as Jocelyn Fray in "City of Bones" and "City of Ashes," movies based on best-selling books of the same names.
The main antagonist in this movie is King Xerxes, the emperor of Persia. He appeared in Greece during the First Persian Invasion after Sparta and Athens refused to pay him tribute. Although King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans failed to stop him at the Battle of Thermopylae, enough Greek support was rallied in time to turn Xerxes back at the Battle of Marathon. For a decade King Xerxes withdrew to lick his wounds and rally his troops before attempting the Second Persian Invasion, dramatized in "300: The Rise of an Empire." Rodrigo Santoro reprises the role of King Xerxes in this movie. Before scoring this part, he played small roles and guest spots in various TV series and movies. Some of his bigger roles include Randy Emmers in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" and Karl in "Love Actually." He also played a character in several episodes of the hit TV series "Lost." More recent projects include the romantic comedy movie "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and "The Last Stand."
Another antagonist of note is Artemisia, Queen of Caria. She is known for allying herself with Xerxes during the Greco-Persian wars and for commanding troops during the Second Persian Invasion. After Artemisia's husband, the King of Caria, died, she took over the throne and later supported Xerxes, first as an adviser and then as a naval admiral during the Battle of Artemisium and the Battle of Salamis. The vital role of Artemisia, Queen of Caria in "300: Rise of an Empire," is played by Eva Green. Although this actress has only been on the scene since 2003, she has many notable roles under her belt. Early on she won the part of Vesper Lynd in "Casino Royale" and the first Bond girl in the James Bond series starring Daniel Craig. Green acted opposite of Orlando Bloom as Sibylla in "Kingdom of Heaven" and opposite Johnny Depp as Angelique Bouchard in "Dark Shadows."
Although these four are the main characters in "300: Rise of an Empire," there are important minor roles. These roles include Calisto, played by Jack O'Connell; Aeschylus, played by Hans Matheson; Dilios, played by David Wenham and Darius I, played by Yigal Naor. Each character is a key component to making the history of the Second Persian Invasion come alive.