Tonight! We Dine! In London!

Empire's at the 300 premiere...

Zack Snyder is a happy man. His stunning visual adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300 broke US box-office records last weekend, taking in $70 million – which, for a movie with a budget of $65 million, isn’t half bad. The critics have been silenced and those bronzed Spartan nutters are well and truly in charge. In fact, tonight they’ve taken over Leicester Square. As have the legions of fans who’ve assembled, camera phones in the attack position, pens poised and scraps of paper blowing in the wind, each one ready to lunge for Gerard Butler’s torso the second the 300 cast begin their celebratory parade down the red carpet. But look, here comes two Spartan soldiers, and they’ve brought Queen Gorgo with them…

“This is really, really fabulous”, says a very elegant Lena Headey, “I actually really admire who she is”, added the actress when commenting on her 300 character: “She’s strong, independent and handles things pretty well. I really liked her”.

“I bulked up and now I’ve shrunk”, revealed David Wenham, who plays the defiant Dilios: “Physically, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. We seriously trained to push the body to the limit…but it was well worth it”.

Hot on the heels of the messenger and the Queen was King Leonidas himself. Bounding into the cinema, Gerard Butler’s smile soon turned to a grimace as he moved forward to come (jokingly) face-to-face with one or two over-snappy photographers – you can take the man out of Sparta…

“This is nuts”, exclaimed Butler. “There’s a lot of people out there and they are all screaming. It’s amazing but it’s very stressful as well, because there’s thousands of people and you only sign about ten or fifteen autographs, but people are shouting, “I’ve come all the way from America!!” – it makes you feel like a bag of shit!”

And what about his experiences playing the toughest dude currently gracing the big screen? “I’ve worked very hard on various different jobs, but I’ve never done anything that comes close to this”, revealed the actor: “The whole project became a thing unto itself. By the end of the first month I was training for six hours a day with two separate trainers. On top of that, I was working with the stunt guys out in the valley in L.A. …in 120-degree heat. But I don’t think this movie is just about being a meathead. The Spartans were about endurance, strength and confidence. With all that training, I could stand there and feel like I, we, could take on the world”.

*300 will continue to conquer the planet when it opens in the UK next Friday (March 23). *