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

Headey is back as Gorgo, though her screen time is relatively spare until the film’s 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: I’d say that Gorgo’s back this time just for revenge. It’s that simple.

Green: I think it’s quite rare to see strong women in an action film, so that’s cool. Artemisia is like a man in a woman’s body. She’s 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, she’s bonkers, a maniac.

So both characters are in a sort of revenge mode. Artemisia’s is about herself, but Gorgo’s is about the death of her husband.

Headey: Speaking from Gorgo’s 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 there’s no other way for her to go.

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

Headey: I don’t think there’s any giant science to it. If you’re playing a mother who’s losing a son, there’s 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 you’re already set up to be emotionally raw. I don’t think it needs much more than that. You don’t have to do some big theatrical acting! Because that’s 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 character’s quite full on, so I had to go all the way, and not play natural.

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

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

Headey: I was kind of lucky because I didn’t have to be naked, like the guys. So I was allowed to have my glass of red wine in the evenings. I’m 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 it’s 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. I’ve 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 can’t 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 don’t 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.