300 director Zack Snyder breaks down the shot that made him want to adapt the comic
Each month in the pages of EW, we’re chatting with the filmmakers, actors, and others involved in capturing an iconic shot in movie history. This edition of The Shot examines the roar of 300.
Zack Snyder distinctively remembers the moment he knew he needed to make 300. Before his directing debut with 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, Snyder took a general meeting at producer Gianni Nunnari’s office — and happened to spot a 300 comic on the coffee table. A fan of Frank Miller’s 1998 series, Snyder recalls that the gears started turning when he opened the book to a drawing of an arrow-filled Leonidas making one last “long and loud” roar.
“It’s the same moment in the comic as it is in the film,” he tells EW. “I said, ‘If we can make a movie that looks and feels like this, that would be something special.’ And he responds, ‘Yeah, that would be cool, but I don’t know. How do you do it?’ I was like, ‘Don’t worry about that, I’ll figure it out. But this is the kind of movie that I want to make.'”
When Snyder’s dream became a reality a few years later, 300 would be shot almost completely in order, meaning the climactic scene came at the end of production — at a time when Gerard Butler (who played Leonidas) and company had grown accustomed, tonally, to the movie but were also “physically and emotionally battered” by an ambitious schedule (even the director was limping around due to a twisted ankle). Snyder says that because the bulk of the CGI-heavy spectacle was filmed on a soundstage, he couldn’t be 100 percent sure what he had until he saw the final product, which was released in 2007.
“I really wanted to make sure I got it right,” he says. “I felt like I visually had it; I just didn’t know whether all of the pillars were in place. When I’m watching the film, it’s that shot that stands out to me as the pinnacle. We set a challenge for ourselves, and that shot makes me go, ‘We did it.’”