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WRATH OF THE TITANS (2012)
Release Date: March 30, 2012 (3D/2D)
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Screenwriters: Dan Mazeau, David Leslie Johnson
Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike
Genre: Action, Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG-13
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
FEEL THE WRATH
"Wrath of the Titans" brings the battle back to the mythical land of gods and monsters in a fight of cataclysmic proportions, bigger and bolder than ever before. And for our hero, Perseus, this time it's personal.
"It's an amazing adventure that takes Perseus to places no mortal has been before and pits him against enemies the likes of which no man has ever faced," states director Jonathan Liebesman, who embraced the opportunity to work in one of his favorite genres while telling a story about facing your destiny. That is something, he says, "We all have to do eventually, if not quite as heroically, as Perseus. The reason Greek mythology is so timeless is because it's full of classic archetypes, as well as tragedy, comedy, betrayal, revenge. It's got it all and it is part of our collective culture. Everyone knows Zeus and Hades; everyone knows what the Underworld is."
Having survived his first encounter with the Underworld in Medusa's lair ten years earlier, Perseus has tried to forget the demons of the past and live a tranquil fisherman's life with his son. But he's given no choice when the war comes to him, and despite trying to hide his demigod identity for years, he can no longer deny his birthright...or his place on the battlefield.
"On his first quest, Perseus had lost everyone that mattered to him and was out for revenge, so on some level it probably didn't matter to him if he lived or died," Sam Worthington, who once again plays him, recalls. "But now he's matured, has a kid he loves dearly, and is content with his life. He sees the world differently; he doesn't want that world to change."
But change it will, due in part to his sense of obligation to his father, the king of the gods, Zeus. Liam Neeson, who returns to the role, says he was eager for the chance to explore in greater depth the bond between fathers and sons, and also brothers. "Jonathan and the writers wanted to mine the difficult relationships between Zeus and his sons, Perseus and Ares, and his complex history with Hades and their own father, Kronos," the actor notes. "That appealed to me greatly—the realism within a fantasy, the very human emotions driving this story that takes place in a fabled world."
Ralph Fiennes, who reprises the role of Hades, adds, "I've always thought of the Greek gods as projections of human appetites and desires, especially when you think of our desire for immortality, eternal strength, eternal beauty and power. We can't have those things, so we create these larger-than-life characters and fantastical stories."
Also back on board for the epic adventure is producer Basil Iwanyk, who was thrilled to take on another mythological epic with new, even bigger beasts, with director Jonathan Liebesman at the helm. "Jonathan loved the material as much as I did and, like I did, he also thought it was really fun to run around Tenerife and Wales and the UK, staging full-scale battles and fighting monsters," Iwanyk smiles. "His enthusiasm was infectious, and he really empowered the people around him, which brought out the best in everybody, cast and crew alike."
Before a single sword could be raised, however, the script had to be penned. Iwanyk and fellow producer Polly Johnsen turned to scribes Dan Mazeau, David Leslie Johnson and Greg Berlanti to devise a death-defying quest for Perseus that would not just measure up to, but even exceed, his last one.
Mazeau says, "It was a really fun, collaborative process. Dave, Greg and I would sit down together for several hours a day, going through the research and figuring out what we would want to see on screen, because we're all fans of that kind of material ourselves."
According to Johnson, "In the mythology, Perseus' greatest adventures come to an end after he saves Andromeda, which happened in the first film. We had to imagine what he did next, to invent a new adventure for him, in essence creating a 'lost myth' that feels as though it should be part of his mythos."
"Ancient myths feel familiar and are relatable to all of us, which is why they last throughout the centuries," producer Polly Johnsen observes. "The writers came up with one that fits right in—a relevant, relatable story that delves into the universal themes of love and hate between fathers and sons, and sibling rivalry. Then Jonathan brought his gritty, realistic take to it which, combined with the huge fantastical elements, I think makes for the best of both worlds."
"We tried to make an epic film in every sense of the word—an inspiring story with powerful themes, massive creatures, kinetic action sequences, spectacular settings and iconic characters played by an incredibly talented cast," Liebesman says.
A HERO'S RETURN
"Wrath of the Titans" not only reunites Perseus with his godly father, Zeus, and duplicitous uncle, Hades, it was a reunion for the trio of actors who play them as well: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes.
"I couldn't imagine anyone else in these roles, so I was thrilled that they each came back to continue the tale," Liebesman says.
Worthington says he was interested in exploring the changes in his character after a decade or so has gone by in Perseus' life. "Unlike before, he is now reluctant to join the fight. It's not an easy decision, and his hesitation really comes from trying to determine what he feels is right: does he leave his son to help his father, or stay with his son and leave his father to go it alone?"
"In Greek mythology," Liebesman notes, "the gods always neglect their human families. They're very selfish. Perseus, despite being a demigod, is trying to live a selfless life as a mortal, dedicated to raising his kid."
Perseus' initial choice seems to be an easy one: he's a parent, he's not going anywhere, no matter how badly Zeus pleads with him, no matter how many of his dreams Zeus haunts. But the decision is really taken out of his hands when the fight quite literally comes to him in the form of a terrifying, three-headed Chimera that attacks his village. Of course, by fighting the monster, it becomes clear to all—including his son—that Perseus is no ordinary fisherman.
Regardless of how badly Perseus may want things to go back to the way they were, it's clear to him that they're not going to—that Zeus was right, the world is changing. It's a message the god of thunder and lightning has been trying to convey to his brother Hades as well, but his warnings have fallen on deaf ears.
"Jonathan was very intent on redefining the relationship between the gods, particularly Hades and Zeus," says Fiennes. "They've always had a difficult history, but this time it's really coming to a head. The gods' powers are diminishing as humankind is finding its own sense of self-worth. Hades has decided that the only way to maintain any kind of power—which for him equals immortality—is to release the eternal destructive force of his father, Kronos, from where he's been imprisoned for so long. Zeus is against this as he knows it will mean mass destruction, so the brothers are at odds from the beginning."
"Zeus realizes that the gods are weaker because it is time for humans to be strong," Neeson explains. "He sees the rightness of that, he understands this new world order, and he's okay with it. Unfortunately, he's unable to convince Hades, and his benevolence toward mortals leaves him open to his brother's old tricks."
Though onscreen enemies, Neeson and Fiennes are great comrades off camera, and enjoyed working together once more. "Ralph is a very dear friend, and it was terrific to have so many scenes with him this time around."
Occasionally, though, the seriousness of their roles got to the pair. "We burst out laughing a few times," Neeson continues, "because, well, there we were again in long wigs and beards and breast plates, me with my thunderbolt and he with his pitchfork."
Fiennes adds, "Liam and I had much more interaction in this film than in the last, and some really strong scenes to play, which we loved. And to be working with a friend is always a good thing."
Several new cast members joined the production in critical roles as well. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez took on the part of Ares, embittered son of Zeus. Resentful of the attention he feels his father has bestowed on his half-brother Perseus, the god of war is out for blood.
Ramirez relished the role. "I grew up watching fantasy movies and always had a wish to be in one," he reveals. "So to play Ares, one of the most prominent Olympian gods and, by definition, the greatest warrior ever, was a chance to fulfill that in a really fun way. Ares enjoys fighting for the sake of fighting; the heat of battle is what ignites this character. He's violent and aggressive, with a very big ego, yet fragile in a way—his pride is easily deflated by what he perceives to be Zeus' preference for Perseus, the son who never loved Zeus. Ares feels excluded, so when Hades presents him with an opportunity for revenge, he takes it."
"Edgar had an incredibly passionate take on Ares. He really delved into the jealousy and passion and anger that have built up inside the god for so long," Liebesman says.
Another slighted offspring of the gods is Agenor, Poseidon's long lost son who has turned into quite the criminal. Needing his innate expertise on the seas, Perseus seeks out Agenor, and finds him rotting in Queen Andromeda's battlefield jail.
The role of Agenor, who proves not only a surprisingly strong ally but also provides a fair amount of comic relief on the dangerous endeavor, is played by Toby Kebbell. "Toby was fantastic," his director states. "He has an edge and a real biting wit that he brought to the character, and he and Sam had a terrific banter together. Even though Agenor and Perseus had never met before our story, they almost immediately feel like family—they're cousins, after all—when we see them together."
"My character has no interest in the gods or the fact that he's a demigod," Kebbell offers. "He's been deserted by his father and so he's turned his back on that world. Perseus brings him around to realizing that it's their generation's responsibility to take care of this mess with the powers that they possess. And even though Agenor is nonchalant about it, he knows he's got an understanding of the sea, given to him by his father, Poseidon, and that Perseus will need him to win this fight. Secretly, he appreciates the respect Perseus has given him. No one else has ever given him that; everyone else just looks on him as a thief, which is fair because he is a thief."
English actress Rosamund Pike plays Agenor's captor, Queen Andromeda. The princess of Argos in the previous film, Andromeda inherited the crown after the death of her parents, the king and queen, and has since become a warrior in defense of her kingdom, even as the world collapses around her.
Producer Iwanyk felt Pike's physicality was "perfect—rough and tough, but queenly at the same time. She exuded leadership but never lost her femininity. And she could go toe-to-toe with Sam."
"I liked Andromeda because she felt like a real heroine for girls," Pike shares. "I think boys have so many action hero role models in films, and there are fewer female characters like that. But Andromeda has changed a great deal from the end of the first film, when she was helpless and needed to be rescued. Now she's Queen of her country and leading her army in war. She's a fighter, and is going to make sure she never needs to be rescued again."
Once Perseus has gathered his forces—Agenor, Queen Andromeda and a few of her soldiers—they set off at sea, under Agenor's navigation, for the remote island home of Hephaestus. As the forger of Zeus' thunderbolt, Hades' pitchfork and Poseidon's trident (collectively known as the Spear of Triam), as well as the architect of the Titans' prison, Tartarus, Hephaestus has valuable knowledge that Perseus must obtain in order to save his father and the world from the wrath of Kronos. Once married to the beautiful goddess Aphrodite, the fallen god now lives alone, with only a few giant Cyclops and mechanical owl Bubo, back in another brief but memorable cameo, for company.
Hephaestus is played with a sense of demented delight by Bill Nighy, who delved into the blacksmith's background in order to fuel his character's ironic ire. "If you take the simple fact that Hephaestus was born lame, rejected by his parents, thrown from Mount Olympus and fell for seven days before he hit land in the middle of nowhere, well... I like the extremity of that," Nighy attests. "It was quite cool to play this put-upon guy. I mean, he did marry the goddess of love, but then she slept with everybody he knew. So he never had it easy. However, as an actor, if you're given the part of a long-haired, scraggly-bearded demigod with a limp who invents a friend for himself, you're in pretty good shape, you know?"
"Bill brought such a breath of fresh air to Hephaestus, as well as a sense of fun and playfulness to the set," producer Johnsen remarks. "He was so lovely and he did so much with the character to express the humor in his otherwise serious scenes."
With Hephaestus' help, Perseus sets off on what he knows will be the most challenging battle of his life, one from which he might not return. As always, foremost in his mind are the safety and future of his son, Helius.
Because it's clear from the beginning that it's been just the two of them, Perseus and Helius, since Io's death, it was also clear to the filmmakers that they needed to find a young actor who would have that kind of chemistry with Worthington. "That relationship had to feel real," Iwanyk relates, "so Sam was very involved. Once we introduced him to John, they just clicked. Even though Sam has never played a father on screen before, he felt very protective of him and spent a lot of time with him, goofing around, having fun, which had a lot to do with making John feel comfortable."
"I love John Bell," Worthington says. "He's a great kid. And it was a tough role, because he's really the heart of the movie, which had to be established in a relatively short time. But he stepped up and he did a great job."
The young actor enjoyed being on the set—especially for the battle his character witnesses when Perseus fights the Chimera. "There were explosions happening all around, I got to jump and scream and get pushed around," he beams. "I even got some 'Clash rash,' which is what we called it when you fell over and got the grit from the ground stuck on you. Best part of making the movie!"
Rounding out the cast, Danny Huston once again appears as Poseidon, initially Zeus' only ally; Lily James plays Korrina, Queen Andromeda's handmaiden, who joins them on their quest; and Sinéad Cusack portrays Clea, the healer whom Perseus entrusts to educate Helius, and to look after him as Perseus embarks on the fight of his life.
HELL ON EARTH
As the title indicates, "Wrath of the Titans" called forth some mammoth and mythical adversaries to pit against Perseus: the multi-headed Chimera, three one-eyed Cyclops, an army of double-bodied Makhai, and one powerful, menacing Minotaur. His most formidable opponent is, of course, Kronos, the gargantuan, heretofore imprisoned Titan and father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon, who is on the verge of breaking free and bringing hell down on the earth.
"There's truly a smorgasbord of action to be had in this movie," says visual effects supervisor and second unit director Nick Davis, who also worked on the first film.
The first foe Perseus meets is the Chimera, a fire-breathing beast with the heads of a lion and goat, dragon-like wings and a vicious snake's head at the end of its tail.
"The main heads work in tandem, with one throwing out fuel and the other a haze of heat that ignites it," Liebesman says of the brute that tears through Perseus' village, a terrifying warning shot of things to come if he doesn't take action.
The creature was primarily produced via CG, but the damage it created was a combination of visual and special effects. Neil Corbould, special effects supervisor on both this and the prior film, explains, "In order to keep the audience guessing 'Was that real? Was that CG?' I find it's better to marry the computer elements with practical ones, for a more seamless end result. It allows the atmosphere you generate—in this case, bits of ash or other light materials—to interact with the actors as well. So the destruction brought about by the Chimera was achieved on set, and enhanced later by the visual effects team."
"The Chimera descends on the village like a meteor and immediately starts ripping it apart," Davis says. "There's a huge pyrotechnical explosion, then the ground starts to crack, followed by a very elaborate, 400-foot trench blast that snakes its way through the town before blowing up a house and finally erupting out of a building. Then it really gets going."
With the Chimera forcing his hand, Perseus is now committed to the battle to save Zeus and all of mankind from Kronos, and sets off to find a way into Tartarus, catching a ride with an old friend: the winged horse Pegasus, who takes him to Queen Andromeda's encampment.
Once Perseus, Andromeda and Agenor are on their way, they sail off to find Hephaestus, whose remote island home is booby-trapped and heavily guarded by a group of 30-foot-tall Cyclops, one of Liebesman's favorite creatures in the film. Prosthetics designer Conor O'Sullivan provided the director with about 15 different maquette heads, and worked closely with Davis in the full body design, before they determined the final blueprint for the Cyclops.
"The biggest challenge was to get them to appear as photorealistic as possible. Well, as much as a one-eyed, 30-foot monster can be photorealistic," Davis smiles.
The filmmakers faced a similar undertaking with the Minotaur, who is made all the more terrifying by the fact that he can shape shift into any person or thing, but in his true form is monstrous, yet humanoid at the same time.
"We felt our Minotaur was more of a man who was deformed in such a way as to resemble a bull," Liebesman states. "He's the gatekeeper at the end of the labyrinth, basically a prisoner himself, who's been there, in the dark, for thousands of years, waiting for someone to try to get through. He's extremely violent and, at seven-and-a-half feet tall and resembling a bull in silhouette, I think when he comes into the light, he's something far scarier that you've ever imagined."
O'Sullivan says the design went through several phases. "Nick had done some early work in the States, and I had a few sculptors working on various maquettes, including Julian Murray, who did a beautiful image of a very humanoid-looking Minotaur." From there, they took his environment into consideration to create the full look. "He's lived in this dungeon, with everything rotting around him. He's filthy; his garments are dirty and disgusting. He's a nightmare in a way, and that's exactly what he needed to represent."
O'Sullivan's biggest challenge with the character was the horns. "They had to be practical. He had to be able to fight with them without them falling off. Securing them was tricky."
Stuntman Spencer Wilding, who played the beast, was covered head-to-toe. "I don't think there was one part of him that was exposed," O'Sullivan continues. "Spencer is very good in creature suits. We put feet, legs, torso, head, horns, hands, teeth and even contact lenses on him, so he was completely encased. It was a two-piece suit with a spine, made out of form latex in a traditional way, all fabricated to fit together."
Heralding the emergence of Kronos from his ages-long confinement, legions of two-torso Makhai rage through the battlefield in a swarm of death and destruction. An invention of the film's writers, they are warriors who had been sent to Tartarus and melded together by Kronos. "He created his own army by merging two tortured, warrior souls into one, and then sent them to wreak havoc on earth," Liebesman relates.
"A volcano breaks, fireballs come out toward the armies, and from the impact of those fireballs into the ground emerge the Makhai, charging Perseus' team," Corbould illustrates.
"They are eight-foot-tall, two-headed, six-armed warriors who can run and roll and fight and jump with strength superior to any man," Davis says. "But they are really just the prelude to the evil that's about to come, the huge, final battle for Perseus, Zeus, Hades...everyone."
The war comes to a climax as the over 1,500-foot Kronos bursts free of his bonds and begins to attack.
"Kronos created the world from chaos, and he wants to return the world to that state," Liebesman notes. "What I love about him is that he reminds me of an atomic bomb when he hits the screen—this massive explosion with tons of volcanic debris flying off of him and setting fire to everything in his path."
Davis adds, "Kronos has forever been this unstable, volatile force that the humans have unwittingly been sitting on, and as soon as Zeus' strength fully empowers him, he erupts: rocks cascade off of him, the prison walls start to collapse and lava bubbles up from underneath."
He goes on to describe the Titan king as having "human proportions, but he's comprised of streams of solidified and molten lava that is constantly pouring off his body. He's also covered in pyroclastic clouds that billow off of him, and as he moves, he hurls lava bombs toward the people below."
Kronos was achieved entirely via CG, but that was no deterrent for Sam Worthington, who has become something of a master of fighting green screen beasts. For the actor, it's all in a day's work. "It's simple: you have to believe in the world. When my nephew runs around pretending he is fighting monsters, it's the same thing. As long as you commit and believe, then the audience will also commit and believe. We know it's computer generated, because Kronos and Cyclops and Chimera don't exist, but if I dive into the situation 100 percent, then hopefully the audience will follow and not be pulled out of the world."
RETURN TO AN ANCIENT LAND
To recreate ancient Greece, the production team on "Wrath of the Titans" once again returned to the unique and exquisite landscape of the Canary Islands' Tenerife, as well as locations in and around England's Shepperton Studios, and the dark quarries of Wales.
"The Canary Islands gave us great contrasts, including the beautiful, blue sea, dusty landscapes and townscapes, wide open areas to stage a massive battle in the middle of a volcano... We just couldn't have asked for more out of one locale," Liebesman says.
Production designer Charles Wood found that the area blended well with his director's vision. "Jonathan is a very graphic director, which was great for me because he was really able to give a sense of what he was envisioning. We discussed color reference, textural reference, and put together a broad palette to work from. He appreciates strong, clear-cut imagery, which is precisely what Tenerife offers," he relates.
The coastal resort of Abades was chosen for the film's biggest set build: the bustling fishing village that is home to Perseus and his son, Helius, and the site of the Chimera's violent attack.
"We chose that particular spot because it has a lot of topography to it, with a clean vista looking out onto the ocean; it wasn't just flat space," Wood elaborates. "We took references from villages in Afghanistan, North Africa and the Middle East, where a lot of ancient cultures still exist."
From Wood's designs, the special effects team, headed by Neil Corbould, sculpted a selection of biscuit foam rocks for the buildings, many of which would be detonated using high pressure compressed air or pyrotechnic charges.
Liebesman was thrilled with the transformation Wood and his team brought about. "Perseus lives on the outskirts of Greek life in a poor village. It's hardscrabble. The attention to detail that Charlie brought to every corner of every hut was inspiring, and I wanted to shoot every inch of what he created before we had to blow it up."
A short drive from Abades, Los Desriscaderos served as the location for the exterior of the intricate labyrinth leading to Tartarus. In addition, several scenes were accomplished within the volcanic national park of Mount Teide: Queen Andromeda's initial military encampment was built at Minas de San Jose; and Llano de Ucanca stood in for the spectacular exterior of the Mount of Idols.
Teno Rural Park, a volcanic mountain where erosion has shaped the current landscape of large, coastal cliffs, did double duty in the film: in the opening scene as the location of Io's seaside grave, and as the location where Perseus, Agenor, Andromeda and her soldiers board the majestic ship, the Nomos.
"The Nomos was featured in the first film," Wood says, "but it underwent some major cosmetic changes for 'Wrath.' We needed it to be longer, so we cut it in half, added about 20 feet in its beam, and then rebuilt it. We laid a new deck, redesigned the bow and stern and built two masts. The ship was constructed in Cornwall and then traveled to Tenerife by land and sea."
For a scene involving the ship at sea, the cast and crew boarded several boats, dropping anchor in front of the Los Gigantes cliffs, which offered a magnificent backdrop. "Los Gigantes has tremendous scale and mystery, having been formed by massive lava flows," Wood says. "I have never seen anything more breathtaking."
Before departing Tenerife, the visual effects team and a splinter second unit peeled off from the main unit to film several "journeying" shots over the Canaries' Roque de Agando in nearby La Gomera, a magnificent volcanic dome formed five million years ago and one of the area's most striking features. The additional footage was used not only for plates, but also for recreating CG backgrounds that would extend beyond the battlefield sequences the filmmakers would capture in Wales.
The remainder of the movie was filmed in the UK. In Surrey, England, the Redlands Wood became the Isle of Kail, the woodland home of Hephaestus and his fierce guards, the Cyclops. The production's home base was located at Shepperton Studios, where the art department, costume department, visual effects workshops and editing were also situated. They utilized several soundstages there for set builds, including the labyrinth, the Minotaur's lair, Hephaestus' forge, the interiors of the Temple of Idols and Perseus' hut, Agenor's jail cell and the ultimate prison, Tartarus.
Perhaps no set called for a greater combination of design and function than the labyrinth. "The labyrinth was good fun," Wood recalls. "It was tricky, though, because of all the moving parts and the fact that it needed to feel like a never-ending space. The special effects team did a tremendous job working out the mechanics of the set, helping us to create moments in the film when the characters walk over bridges and we see swirling cylinders, interconnecting corridors, and massive stone blocks moving all around them."
"If there's a horror movie element in this film, that is the labyrinth," Iwanyk suggests. "It is the home of the Minotaur, and it preys upon your worst fears."
Another fear-inducing site in the film is Tartarus, where Kronos is slowly breaking free as he absorbs the remaining power from Zeus, who stands chained and helpless thanks to the unholy alliance formed by Hades and Ares. Inspired by the artist John Martin's paintings, which the director calls "turbulent and surreal," Liebesman had a very specific idea of how it should appear.
"To me, the Underworld has always been a dark representation of the inside of the earth. It's not really a cave; it's immense, with rounded surfaces above that are the underside of the oceans and mountains—almost a world within a world, with Tartarus at its very core. Looking at it that way, I think it gave us a lot of room to play with the design."
"We built a little piece of it," Wood says, "and the effects department came in to really capture the rest of the huge chasm of the earth that became our Underworld."
VFX supervisor Nick Davis enjoyed creating what he describes as "the bizarre, twisted, cathedral-like, 4,000-foot structure that is essentially a prison of stone from which Kronos, during the course of the film, breaks through and comes to life."
The production travelled to South Wales for the final two weeks of filming in order to shoot the explosive battle scene in which man takes on the ferocious powers of the Underworld. Andromeda's military camp at Argos was built at a slate quarry on the outskirts of Merthyr Tydfil, once the largest town in Wales. Coincidentally, the area has its own royal—and violent—history: it was named for Saint Tydfil, the daughter of King Brychan of Brycheiniog, who was slain in approximately 480 A.D.
"The final battle is massive," Iwanyk states. "We had hundreds of soldiers and horses, trebuchets and arrows flying. It's a fight to the finish between Kronos and his army of creatures, and the armies of mankind—the Spartans, the Athenians, the army of Argos—all there for the final stand. It's like the battle of Thermopylae or Stalingrad or any pivotal conflict. If we don't win here, life as we know it is over."
OUTFITTING AN ARMY
The expansive wardrobe for everything from a hero to fallen gods to an ancient Greek militia was created by costume designer Jany Temime. "I find Greek mythology quite interesting, but I've never worked in that period before, so I was excited to have such a perfect opportunity to learn more about it," she says.
Temime took her initial cues from the changes in the story that have taken place since we last saw Perseus and the gods, ostensibly ten years earlier. "When our film begins, the gods are no longer on top. They've been in decline because man has stopped praying to them, so I wanted to present them in a state of decay, while still capturing the different aspects of each one, and hinting at what they once were."
Zeus' decline was key for her. "He was the king of the gods, and now he's losing everything. I chose ethnic silk with a lot of weight to it, which was magnificent but not glamorous. We draped it heavily, and did a hand-printing on it in gold leaf. From there, we damaged it as much as we could, leaving just a suggestion that it was, at one time, fantastic-looking."
Having collaborated with him on four "Harry Potter" films, Temime was very familiar with what works for Ralph Fiennes, and had clear ideas for Hades. "Ralph can carry a cape like nobody else," she says. "We chose soft skein leather, because I wanted something matte that would give off no reflection whatsoever. I found an illustration of a volcanic surface with holes, and used that to design the print for it. It was horrific, and though you hardly see it, he could feel it."
Apart from the gods, the costume designer had other transformations to accomplish. "Taking an English rose like Rosamund Pike and turning her into a Greek warrior was really a challenge," she declares. "I had to make her appear strong and capable, without hiding her femininity and beauty." Temime started by addressing the armor. "I found it fascinating the way Greeks fashioned the shapes of muscles into their tunics and I thought, 'Why should a man show the shape of his abs, but a woman not show the outline of her breasts?' So, I took that sort of detailing and enhanced the contours of her body, which ended up looking very sexy and cute, but still powerful. We also did a handmade tie dye on her dress, which was silk, and which looked very authentic."
Temime felt no detail was too small, whether it would read on camera or not, as long as it spoke to the character. "For Agenor, who we first meet in prison, we created a cape imprinted with reproductions of antique coins. So, while he has nothing, his cape represents something of real value, much like the man himself. For Helius, who is obsessed with the gods and wants to be a war hero, we made him mini-armor with two pieces of metal, much as a kid would have done, and it went nicely with his little wooden sword."
To design the clothing for Helius' father, the hero at the center of the story, Temime took both the character's personality and the physical requirements of the part into consideration. "Sam's a very physical actor and it's an extremely active role, so it was important that he had tremendous freedom of movement. Had I given him metal armor, it would've been hard for him to move, so leather was a must. From there, I incorporated both Greek and Japanese elements into it, to make it slightly different from all the others. I used a very rough silk that we dyed and damaged, and I went with a shade of blue because it evokes the color of the sea, and he's a fisherman."
For the bulk of the cast, Perseus included, Temime says, "Jonathan wanted everyone to look very rough and realistic. He always asked for more dirt, more damage. He wanted to show the result of having been at war for many years and living in a world where the gods no longer provide for the mortals."
To dress the army of Argos, Temime adhered closely to her research. "I gave them the look of a real army, with the color red for their cape, made from old pieces of carpet that we found. All the tunics were hand-printed. All the armors, greaves, capes and helmets were hand-sculpted or handmade, for approximately 300 officers and guards and so forth. And we also did the Athenians and the Spartans. There were a lot of Greek soldiers," she smiles, "a lot."
Liebesman has high praise for Temime's work. "Jany's interpretation of the era was brilliant," he says. "It was an enormous undertaking, and she and her team really outdid themselves, and exceeded my expectations at every turn."
ACTION AND ARMS
"Wrath of the Titans" includes numerous epic action sequences featuring hundreds of characters fighting, with a wide range of weapons at their disposal. Stunt coordinator Paul Jennings and supervising armourer Nick Komornicki both worked on the first film, and were eager to pick up where they left off, while upping the ante.
"You get to play with huge monsters and have big fights and jump around and pretend to be gods," Jennings says. "It's exciting and it's great fun."
Jennings also enjoyed teaming with Sam Worthington again. "Sam is terrific with action and loves to do his own stunts, and he brings a lot of his own ideas, which helps us create compelling sequences."
This time around, though, Perseus has been living a peaceful, fight-free life, so Worthington and the filmmakers wanted to play him as a bit of a "rusty gunslinger. He hasn't fought for ten years, his punches aren't as efficient as they once were and he's not as adept at swordsmanship as he used to be," the actor observes. "I liked that he has a little catching up to do, it brought a different dynamic to it and it was more fun for me to play. Every punch he takes and every punch he gives hurts. He's William Munny, but at 35."
"Sam is an incredibly skillful physical actor who will throw himself against rocks, take after take, and never complain," Liebesman laughs.
"Sam wants the action to be in his face as much as possible," Iwanyk agrees. "The tougher it is, the more motivated he gets, and you feel it. He's up for anything, and that empowers us as filmmakers, and sets a great tone for the rest of the cast and crew."
"I think audiences demand it nowadays," Worthington offers, "and I want the audience to stay with me and the film for the whole ride, so I try to do as much as I possibly can without hurting myself."
Fortunately, Perseus did have some weapons to aid him, including the sword he carried on his quest years ago, as well as a small wooden dagger carved by his own son, Helius, which he brings along for luck. Komornicki and his team provided the soldiers and gods with over 1500 arms as well, including a variety made from lightweight aluminum, rubber, or metal inlay, and also created the large working trebuchets for the final battle scene.
A special sword was created for the god of war. "It had a very traditional, Bronze Age Greek blade," Komornicki says. "On the handle were the symbols for Ares: the eagle and the woodpecker. Overall, it was fairly simple, rough and ready, something that should look like it's been through a lot of battles." The god also carries a fearsome piece dubbed "Ares' War Mace," which Komornicki describes as having "a large stone top, a bronze mace shaft and a spike in the bottom."
The film's most important weapon is the symbolic and deadly Spear of Triam. Comprised of three individual pieces Hepaestus forged for the gods, it consists of Zeus' thunderbolt, Poseidon's trident and Hades' pitchfork. It is the only instrument ever known to have defeated Kronos, and Perseus must somehow gather all three pieces in order to have a chance against the Titan this time around.
In order to be more functional, Komornicki relates, "All three of the gods' weapons can be shrunk down to small baton versions, so that if the god is not in a dangerous situation and doesn't need the big fighting version, he can have a compact one to carry around." Each one also had its own distinct qualities. "Hades' pitchfork wouldn't be shiny; it had to look a bit dirty and aged. Poseidon's trident also had to appear aged and as though it's been in sea water for a long time. Zeus' thunderbolt was the trickiest to design, because it had to evoke that lightning shape, but be more practical than that would actually be."
To enhance the moviegoers' experience of the stunts and swordplay, the filmmakers chose to utilize a far more modern-day tool: 3D.
"We conceived the movie for 3D, choreographing shots and consulting our on-set stereographer between takes to ensure that we'd be able to use the technology to our greatest advantage," Liebesman states.
"We were very careful at every stage to prolong shots, make the movement more dynamic, and avoid quick cuts," director of photography Ben Davis elaborates. "With that in mind, and because we'd be converting in post, we were still able to shoot in Jonathan's style, with lots of camera movement and handheld camera work, which we couldn't have done with 3D cameras."
Davis was also happy to be shooting on film, rather than in high definition. "If this had been a contemporary piece, then HD might have worked. But it's a Greek epic. I wanted the texture and sensibility and realism that you get with film."
Polly Johnsen says, "Every choice we made in the scripting and planning stages took the look and feel and 3D elements of the film into account, so that we could bring moviegoers a thrilling, emotional, edge-of-your seat experience in the theater."
"People go to the movies to be transported to worlds they've only dreamed about," Basil Iwanyk says. "I think that, with our creatures and our action and our scope and scale, it's going to be exciting and immersive. The monsters and the fire and the dust and ash of the atmosphere are going to come right out into the audience. It'll be crazy fun."
Jonathan Liebesman adds, "When Kronos comes out of the screen, with comets of lava flying off of him, you'll feel as though he's coming right for you."
At the same time, the director reflects, "There are a lot of powerful, emotional themes going through the movie which I hope will speak to people, and all of that happens in the midst of this epic war between mortals and gods and monsters."
Studio photos, notes and videos © 2012 Warner Bros. Pictures