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There is a scene in the movie, 300 where Xerxes stands behind Leonidas and places his hands on the shoulders of Leonidas.

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Not only does Xerxes appear much taller than Leonidas, he appears physically larger than him in all aspects. The hands of Xerxes appear to be very large in comparison to the shoulders of Leonidas.

Out of universe, both actors are similar in height and weight.

Gerard Butler is fairly tall and actually gained weight for his role as Leonidas:

Gerard Butler is 6’2″ (188 cm) tall, and weigh 190 pounds (86kg). For this movie he lost fat and gained muscle and got up to 200 pounds (91kg).

Actor Rodrigo Santoro is the same height as Gerard Butler:

In a larger than life battle film like "300," the villain has to be extra-larger than life. Xerxes, the king of Persia, is portrayed as seven feet tall. Actor Rodrigo Santoro is only 6’2".

It's obvious that CGI was used throughout this film in several scenes. I'm not questioning the use of CGI. My question is How was this scene actually filmed to ensure that Xerxes completely towers over Leonidas? Do both actors need to be a similar height and build for a particular technique to be successful?

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    Xerxes is The God-King! He can do anything, so... wait, he is mortal as proved by Leonidas ;P – user33741 Sep 26 '16 at 3:25
  • I think reading up on all the perspective tricks they used for scenes with Gandalf, Hobbits and Dwarves in LotR and Hobbit movies probably also applies here. – PoloHoleSet Sep 26 '16 at 14:36
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Just Bluescreen and movie magic. This scene can be seen in the extras, and shows normal sized Santoro caressing normal sized Butler's shoulders, against the blue screen:

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He's digitally enlarged as needed in that scene. Scaled and matted in.

The rest of Xerxes scenes use simple Forced Perspective on appropriately sized props or cgi. (think Lord of the Rings Gandalf vs. Frodo). It's fairly easy to make someone look larger by aiming the camera certain ways.

Same techniques that are used in Captain America, as seen in How did they make Captain America so tiny and skinny in the first half?

No, nothing requires both actors to be the same size.

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