After making his feature directorial debut on the Dawn of the Dead remake, Zack Snyder moved into the comic book genre with 300, which turned out to be the breakout hit of both his and leading man Gerard Butler’s career. The Scotsman was a recognizable presence up until that point, but his gruffly charismatic performance as King Leonidas established him as an action hero, a sandbox he’s been more than comfortable to play in ever since.
Five of Snyder’s last seven feature films have been comic book adaptations, but 300 set the visual template that the majority of his subsequent efforts would follow, with the stylish historical epic packed with slow motion, speed ramping, a desaturated color palate and the sort of excessively entertaining violence that no decent actioner can do without.
One thing you’ll notice about the actors to have worked with Snyder over the years is that they can’t speak highly enough of him as either a person or collaborator, and Butler admitted in a recent interview that he found the director to be a force of nature when they first met, but he was eventually won over despite his misgivings that 300 could end up being a disaster.
“I came in like a force of nature, but I was met with an equal force of nature, and the two of us came together like a whirlwind. In some ways I was ruining my body, but I was looking amazing doing it. There were times you would walk around in your red cape and little leather underpants and someone would point at nothing and say, ‘Look! A burning village!’. And I remember going, ‘Oh my god. This movie’s going to suck’. When I first saw the final product, I was with thirteen of my representatives and friends, and our jaws were dropping. It was like, ‘Look at what Zack did!’. I can’t speak highly enough about him. As a director, as a creative, as a kind, excited, passionate guy.”
Of course, 300 went on to earn over $450 million at the box office and spawn a handful of soundbites that quickly embedded themselves into the cultural lexicon, although many analysts were still surprised at just how impressively the movie overperformed compared to early estimates. Snyder and Butler’s standings in the industry could look a lot differently today if the film had been as terrible as the actor once thought it might be, but it’s fair to say things turned out pretty well in the end.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter