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'Immortals' Offers Fresh Take on Greek Myths

Actor Henry Cavill portrays Greek hero Theseus in 'Immortals.'
Actor Henry Cavill portrays Greek hero Theseus in 'Immortals.'

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Alan Silverman

The old fashioned "swords and sandals" adventure comes back to movie screens with a fresh take on ancient Greek mythology in "Immortals."

The stage is set for an epic struggle when the power-mad King Hyperion sets out to release the Titans and topple the Olympians from their lofty perch.

While the future of humankind is at stake, the chief god, Zeus, has banned his fellow immortals from meddling in earthly affairs. But he does choose a champion: a young villager who possesses the qualities to become a hero.

English actor Henry Cavill stars as that hero. Although this Theseus is only loosely based on the mythological founder of Athens, Cavill says the ancient legends and myths helped him find the character.

"I've always been a fan of reading the stories from mythology and history and anything like that. As a kid I enjoyed reading it all and growing up with it."

Theseus is mighty and moral, but Cavill says it was important that he not appear to be perfect.

"To play a hero effectively I think you have to focus entirely on the flaws and doubts of the hero, because it's sort of become a little boring to be too good and too great at everything you do. So to focus on all of the things which make life and everything difficult for that individual, therefore, makes them more heroic when they overcome them."

Luke Evans, who costars as Zeus, jokes about strutting around the set in regal robes, but the Welsh-born actor says that had to be part of his character.

"I had to channel being a father, a king, authoritarian and somebody who was thousands of years old," Evans says. "You have to get yourself to that place. There is no point thinking 'Oh, I look a bit silly in this gold cape or crown of brass leaves on my head.' You've got to believe it."

The international cast of "Immortals" also includes Mumbai native Freida Pinto of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame. She plays the oracle Phaedra. American screen veteran Mickey Rourke plays bloodthirsty King Hyperion.

Director Tarsem Singh puts the action in a surreal landscape of massive sets augmented by digital technology. The Indian-born director admits that describing his imaginative visions to studio executives is difficult.

"Talk really fast with an Indian accent. Then they kind of think 'He must know what's happening, because we don't understand,'" Singh says. "I'm very clear in what I want to say or what I want to do in my head and if you can get them to believe in the infectiousness of it, I don't think it can be cheated. They usually say 'Okay, you've done visual films before. Let him have it.'"

Singh was apparently on to something when he cast Cavill as his film's champion. The "Immortals" star is now playing the ultimate hero of modern mythology, "Superman," in the new film "Man of Steel" coming to theaters in 2013.

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