Their hearts will go on...through oceans of molten lava. Titanic meets Gladiator meets Roland Emmerich in this sword-and-sandal-and-volcano saga set in 79 AD—and spewed out in 3-D! Game of Thrones' Kit Harington plays Milo, a slave turned gladiator who captures the affections of Cassia (Emily Browning), the pretty daughter of an aristocratic entrepreneur. But ruthless Roman Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland) desires Cassia as his bride. During the big festival at the coliseum, Milo tries to survive a gladiator death-match and rescue his new love from creepy Corvus. Then Mount Vesuvius erupts and kicks everyone's ash! (Sorry, too soon?) Before you get all hot and bothered in Pompeii, check out these five facts:
1. Emerging From the Ashes: In 2007, Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby, The Pianist) was attached to direct an adaptation of Robert Harris' bestseller Pompeii but bowed out of the project. Then the novel was going to be a miniseries penned by screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown, which Polanski also directed). That, too, went up in flames. Pompeii has risen again, with no connection to Harris' book, and is helmed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil) — not Magnolia's Paul Thomas Anderson. Otherwise, there might be frogs raining down with the brimstone.
2. Battling It Out: Faced with the physically demanding role, Harington began training and bodybuilding more than a month before production began and adhered to a strict diet. His fellow gladiators also spent four weeks training, so they'd look like pro athletes and could endure filming fight scenes for 12 hours a day. The hand-to-hand combat was staged by renowned stunt coordinator Jean Frenette, who also choreographed the epic battles in 300 and Immortals. Pompeii is much less bloody.
3. Small Screen & Big Screen: In addition to Harington, Pompeii is populated by other familiar faces from TV shows. The mysterious Mr. Eko in Lost, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje costars as Atticus, an African gladiator who becomes Milo's unexpected ally. Kiefer Sutherland, Jack Bauer from 24, chews up the columns and cobblestones as borderline-campy villain Corvus, while Jared Harris (Lane Pryce on Mad Men) plays Cassia's dad. The notable exception is Carrie-Anne Moss, best known for The Matrix franchise, as Cassia's mother.
4. Creating the Pompeii and Circumstance: The filmmakers recreated the ancient Italian city at Cinespace Studios in Toronto, where principal photography took place. They built nearly 30 sets for the film, including Cassia's opulent home, the amphitheater, forum, and Pompeii streets, which alone took 13 weeks to finish. The wardrobe team built approximately 3,000 complete costumes, and visual effects artists helped blow everything up with an impressive digital volcano, based on their extensive flyovers of Mount Vesuvius as well as active volcanoes.
5. Amazing Destruction Deets: Within 12 hours on August 24, 79 AD, Pompeii suffered an earthquake, volcanic eruption and tsunami. The energy emitted by Mount Vesuvius was 100,000 times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima bombing. Most of the victims, estimated in the thousands, were flash-heated to death, and glowing avalanches of ash buried the city and filled in new shoreline. Today, geologists believe Mount Vesuvius is overdue for another eruption and could be more deadly, since the local population is now three million people.