There was very little female presence in the very masculine 2007 film 300, though Lena Headey grabbed her share of the spotlight as Spartas Queen Gorgo to the storys King Leonidas. But this time around, in 300: Rise of an Empire, theres some juicer stuff for the female actors to chew on.

Headey is back as Gorgo, though her screen time is relatively spare until the films last act, when she comes on as a sword-wielding lioness. But fans of fiery females will be very satisfied with the dialogue, character and evil ways put into the hands of Eva Green, who portrays, with quiet vehemence, the Persian naval leader Artemisia, a woman with a chip on her shoulder so big, she uses it to knock the block off of every man she sees.

Headey, who currently stars as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, and former Bond girl Green (Vesper in Casino Royale) recently spoke about the film and their roles in Los Angeles.

Both of these characters have an ax to grind. Gorgo is now widowed, and we find out that Artemisia had a very rough childhood. Did you have to work yourselves up to play the parts?

Headey: Id say that Gorgos back this time just for revenge. Its that simple.

Green: I think its quite rare to see strong women in an action film, so thats cool. Artemisia is like a man in a womans body. Shes really ballsy, very brave. She was traumatized as a child so she kind of built this armor around her to survive, and she became driven and blinded by vengeance, and completely obsessed. Yeah, shes bonkers, a maniac.

So both characters are in a sort of revenge mode. Artemisias is about herself, but Gorgos is about the death of her husband.

Headey: Speaking from Gorgos point of view, the Spartan law is honor before anything else. And the fact that she loses the love of her life, well, there is nothing else to be done apart from avenging him. So theres no other way for her to go.

Youre all acting on small sets with green screens behind you. But you have to pretend that youre on big battlefields or out in the middle of the ocean. How did you adapt to that?

Headey: I dont think theres any giant science to it. If youre playing a mother whos losing a son, theres something at stake. So some of it is just done with pure emotion, and this piece is about war and death and love, so I think youre already set up to be emotionally raw. I dont think it needs much more than that. You dont have to do some big theatrical acting! Because thats mental.

Green: Our director Noam Murro loves opera, so he used to play opera [on the set]. He wanted us not to be afraid to be theatrical in a big way (laughs). I mean, my characters quite full on, so I had to go all the way, and not play natural.

Its been reported that you took a lot of special fitness classes to prepare for the roles.

Green: I loved that, but then Im a sadist, and a tomboy.

Headey: I was kind of lucky because I didnt have to be naked, like the guys. So I was allowed to have my glass of red wine in the evenings. Im so not physical, so it was a big challenge. You actually feel very powerful, but not at the beginning. You have to do all of the squats and lunges, and its painful. But it helps you for the fights. You can go quite low, and after a while you feel very proud of yourself.

Green: The fight choreography was like a dance. Ive always been an enormous fan of those Asian films, like Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. So doing it made me feel like I was a little girl, and I had great masters. At the beginning you cant think too much. You just have to do it, let it all out, go for it.

Some of the costumes you got to wear are outrageous.

Green: [Costume designer] Alexandra Byrne is very talented and brave. I love the outfit she made that had golden spikes erupting from my back so I look like a sort of dinosaur. It was very cool and very easy to move in. Sometimes my hair got caught in the spikes, but you dont see that in the film (laughs). That was my favorite outfit. I look like a weird animal.

Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.