Epic poem inspires film

Category: Transcripts | Posted by: admin
Article Date: March 10, 2006 | Publication: Canada AM - CTV Television, Inc. | Author: SEAMUS O'REGAN
Publication/Article Link:http://www.ctv.ca/canadaam

GUESTS: GERARD BUTLER, ACTOR, "BEOWULF AND GRENDEL"

O'REGAN: It's the original English epic poem that has inspired films like "Lord of the Rings". And now "Beowulf and Grendel" is being brought to life again in a Canadian co-production that is being released today. I sat down with Gerard Butler of "Dear Frankie" fame, who takes on the legendary role of Beowulf.

[Taped segment begins]

O'REGAN: Let's talk about Beowulf and why you decided that you would do this movie.

BUTLER: To me, I love to do things that come out of left field. Things that I just sit there and read that I didn't expect to like, like "Dear Frankie" when I did that. I hadn't expected to like that. You pick it up and -- and I actually, we were just talking, I actually hadn't studied Beowulf before. So I knew of the poem but didn't know much about it --

O'REGAN: For those people who don't know, it is the, you know, first epic, Anglo-Saxon poem put down in writing, a story that's been passed on through generations. But it's long.

BUTLER: You should be selling this movie more than me. That's fantastic.

O'REGAN: But I wanted to set it up for people who don't know.

BUTLER: Exactly. But then again, I'm saying I didn't know it at the time. So I came across the script first which takes a particular angle and only part of the story.

O'REGAN: That's right.

BUTLER: And therefore allows you to climb much more deeply into that story. And it involves more twists, it involves more characterizations and essentially it involves more humanity. So that's what I loved about it. It was epic, it was weird, it was beautiful, it was poetic. It totally took me into another world. And that's what I got into acting for.

O'REGAN: It got a lot of laughs in the theatre.

BUTLER: I've been hearing that.

O'REGAN: Exactly for that reason, because it was so interesting. You're kind of talking modified Old English. And then it twists into something that I expect out of "Lethal Weapon 2". Do you know what I mean?

BUTLER: Yeah, yeah, --

O'REGAN: Without losing a beat. It takes you aback. But the tone hasn't changed.

BUTLER: Absolutely. And there's something very earthy and primal and human about the humour. And it kind of just comes out of nowhere. So that's another thing that I loved about it. And it seemed very easy in the performance. It came naturally amongst the actors. You know, just standing in these Icelandic landscapes and these Viking settings, coming out with this kind of language. It sometimes could involved such hilarity.

So that's another thing that I think is great about the movie, is the humour that's involved. And weird, could sometimes get very dark and strange humour. And then seeing the photos of some of the locations. And I suddenly felt the whole thing -- the epic poem of Beowulf and this great story, these great characters -- on these locations, filming in Iceland. And I thought: We have something. Because no movie's ever completely filmed in Iceland. And it is like no other place on the planet.

O'REGAN: When you're in that kind of environment, that kind of landscape, it makes you realize just how small you are. And yet it really made me think when you depict how these people lived -- you know, the Danes, the Norse, the Anglo-Saxons -- how small they are. These pockets -- insignificant little pockets -- of civilization set out against this incredible landscape. How did they survive all those millennia?

BUTLER: I know. I would say that people really tried to look after us, but still for me and for the rest of the crew there were times that the weather was so severe -- I mean it was insane. Our base tent, which was huge, was blown away three or four times, never to be found again. One day eight car windows were put in from flying rocks from the wind. And we were trying to film in these conditions. It was nuts. And at times it was so cold you thought, "I'm not going to survive for another two minutes." Or you're in the Icelandic Sea filming out on -- I mean insane.

But you think: That's how these guys lived. These guys would go in their boats and row for days and days in that weather. And you think: How much more hardy and tough and manly were they then? So that's another thing I think is wonderful about this movie, is it doesn't try to be anything. It appreciates how small these people are in those landscapes. So therefore, the sets are very minimal. And it's not trying to create -- it's actually a pre-Viking era. So, again, it takes you to a very fascinating part of history.

[Taped segment ends]

O'REGAN: Trust me, you'd follow him into the trenches.

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