The Men ... Women Are Watching - Part One
Category: Transcripts | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 16, 2006 | Publication: Women's Watch on WBZ 1030AM Boston | Author: Carolyn Firestone and Ellen Sherman
Part 1 - WBZ exclusive (extended) interview with Gerard Butler - recorded August 9, 2006
CF: I know you've talked about this a million times but give me a brief synopsis of how you got into acting.
GB: Yeah, I was studying to be a lawyer. I finished at school there. I went on to train in a law firm for a couple of years where I managed to royally mess that up. Em... I didn't really want to do it. They knew I didn't want to do it. My life was...em... I wasn't living a particularly healthy or happy life at that time so...they......em......we.....em....how do you say this.....okay...I was fired! (laughs).
GB: And ahh...and they said...you know what... this is not your dream. Why don't you go off and do what...what you want to do. And literally the next day I packed my bags and moved down to London and said... okay... one.... I'm going to sort out my life and...secondly I'm going to get into acting cause that's what I'd always wanted to do. And then yeah ...I took some...some odd jobs you know... ahh...some very funny odd jobs still wearing the suit that I'd worn while I was training as a lawyer....at times..well....demonstrating toys at the....the London toy show and walking around shopping centers trying to get people to sign up for..for... boiler-makers...and ahh......a bunch of crazy jobs and ahh...and then eventually I managed to..to blag my way into an audition with ...an actor/writer/director called Steven Berkoff and I got the role and then I got another role playing the lead in Trainspotting the play. Then I got an agent and then I got a film...you know I think it was my first film audition and it was Mrs. Brown...or over here it's called Her Majesty Mrs. Brown with Dame Judi Dench, Billy Connolly and em... it kind of went from there..so it was.... I had a very charmed existence in the beginning of my acting career.
CF: And it didn't take that long for you to get as far as you did ...so soon.
GB: No.... it happened...it kind of happened pretty quickly. I mean it took off quickly and then I would say probably leveled out for two three years over in the UK but pretty much the second I stepped off the plane. I had a manager here after Mrs. Brown and I came out and I thought I would literally just come out for a month umm... and check it out, but after two weeks I landed Attila the Hun... this mini series for USA Network...and while I was doing that I landed Dracula and suddenly my whole life changed. I mean it pretty much changed in a week you know my career....my life...everything...everything and....yeah...it's insane... it's been...it's been a pretty charmed existence again I guess. But I've worked hard I mean it's been..it's been a lot of hard work..much harder than I thought it would ever be (laughs) but it's also been...been really.... I've had so much fun doing it cause this is always my dream to do this. It's been a different dream than I expected but it's... but it's still my dream.
CF: So what is it about acting that appeals most to you?
GB: Well that's...that's what I mean it's been a different dream than I expected. I mean... when I was younger I...I... used to...my dreams were always so insane and....and...and fantatisco... and to me that was in a way what acting represented and..and.. that's the one thing that still holds true. I mean I love to delve into fantasy to take on another character to take on another time you know...another story...I mean I do love that but what..what it's come to mean to me as well is just creativity...to be able to create something...to create a character to work through challenges...things that don't work and to see it all come together to see your ideas merge with the ideas of other actors and the writer and the director and the excitement that you have and also the work that it takes cause you know.....when I'm filming we do twelve/fourteen hour days sometimes six day weeks and ..and also a lot of the jobs that I've done have been a lot of training as well. So it's definitely a rollercoaster ride but it's being able to work as a team and try and create something that you think is going to say something to somebody else. And that's what I love when there's a message in there. And you meet somebody or people afterwards say..'oh my god that..that really got me ..that made me think about this....or this moved me or this made me laugh' or...I have another phone here by the way..my British phone. It's em... (laughs)
CF: That's okay....
GB: (laughs) I have so many cell phones. It's like these little things they make me jump.. you know...they're plugged into various different walls and em.....oh god...there's that one! ...oh! where did that come from! Um...so yeah...yeah...did I finish?
CF: Yeah...I think you did. So growing up in Scotland you were so far from mainstream Hollywood. What was it like when you started to get more acting jobs under your belt and your career really started to take off and you realized your dream of becoming an actor was going to happen. What did that feel like?
GB: Well.....it involves a lot of excitement ....a lot of pinching yourself and um...at the same time...what..what I've found...and I actually think this is in a way kind of sad...but when your perception of what it takes to succeed kind of changes. Like I remember when I first started acting it was so often when I thought that...oh my god if this happens it would just be too good to be true. But when you get your head down and do the work and you know you have that power of intention and focus.....your taking it...and that's what I mean when I say it's different than I thought it was going to be because I think that it takes so much focus and dedication and determination that in a way it takes some of the magic out of the journey but at the same time that's how the journey goes for longer and better and you take it, you know, a lot more seriously and you really dedicate yourself to the craft. So what I found was that the more I got away from that belief which was... ugh...I can't do this, you know, I'll never be successful or this will never work for me...which I hate to say but I think is very much in the psyche of scots people....you know as much as I love them and they are wonderful and warm and have a great sense of humor there is ahh... definitely also... and me as well...you know you're kind of brought up generally with a, with... a bit of a chip in your shoulder you know..ahh... the English....the big brother..well you can do that...they can do that....not us you know. So... what I found was the more success that I got and the more it came just from pure hard work and dedication and faith and trust then the more you kind of grow away from those really kind of negative and useless ideas. So...it becomes exciting, exhausting and.....you know...thrilling....um....depressing (laughs)...you know you kind of get..you get all the ends of ahh..you know...every kind of emotion....up and down, but it's certainly been up ...you know the last few years have been so busy and hectic for me and they've been a joy but they've been exhausting as well.
CF: A lot of successes the last couple of years...that's for sure. What is it about a character that really pulls you in where you think ...I have to play this role.
GB: I mean I have no hard and fast rules about that. In fact...very often the characters that excite me are ones that I didn't expect to be looking at. You know when you see something that surprises you or is...is unusual about a person or you know...is.. is something that you've never really seen before....um...or felt before.....that you think...oh god that...that's great you know. But often it's..umm....what would it be in character......I mean a lot of the characters that I have played it's been....umm....I guess it's been...hmmm..I'm trying to think of a line through, through what I've done. I don't know...I feel like I've been so all over the place with my characters and some have been very comedic and some have been dark, and some have been, you know, em... pained and full of grief and some of have been through absolute motivation and determination or sacrifice. I mean it's... I guess it's just some powerful emotion or part of the character that, that really kind of appeals to me...either because it's something that I think ..oh I really relate to that as a person and I think other people will as well or it's something that I don't think that I have perhaps, and I would like to kind of work on or try and understand or you know...that it would set a challenge for me or you know.....it can be...as I say I have no rules for that I just know that I read a script and it either all works for me or, or it doesn't, you know. I love the character for a variety of different reasons..you know...either because he might be insane..he might be hilarious...he might be brutal you know, ..or he might be somebody that is trying to get over some impossible challenge. But it just..it's when it's all put together you know...the script, the character, who's directing and then you say.. okay this works. And what's great is that the more you go on through your career, at least for me, the more successful I become that starts to happen more and more often you know..you get the quality of scripts and the interesting characters that was harder to get a stab at before.
CF: So when you see the finished product....umm..cause I know you put everything into your roles, I've seen a lot of your movies and you work so hard. Are you your toughest critic.....are you generally pleased with your performances.
GB: No. I would definitely say I am my toughest critic. You know..I often sit through performances with my head in my hands and think..god...oh my god..no... oh..what are you doing... and I have to say that has got less as the years have gone on. One...is I think I probably got better and two.. I got more used to watching myself but....but I still..um...I'm not going to say which performances but there's been several particular performances where I've had a lot of great feedback on but for me I still find it really difficult to watch myself. In fact my very first one...it was my very first film, Mrs. Brown. I've never been so excited. It was the first time I was in a film and I was going to see myself on the big screen opposite these wonderful actors and when I came on in the film I could quite honestly say it was the most intensely putrid, awful experience I ever had. I...I thought I was going to vomit. I got all hot. I got all cold. I thought I was going to faint and I just wanted to leave. And I thought...oh my god. I literally thought everybody in the cinema was....it was..it was silent..which of course it was supposed to be people were watching a film... but in my head everybody had their hand on their mouth going... 'oh my god, this guy is just terrible'..and um... and I've never really changed (laughs). I think it's just weird when you see yourself so ..it's strange you know...but you know even on a screen just raising your eyebrows is probably three feet.
CF: right, right...
GB: And you're like...'oh no, no'. and in actual fact...often it's the things that I cringe at the most that people will say were their favorite parts of my perforrmance...you know perhaps it's just when you kind of step out of those boundaries that you normally kind of exist within and you do something which is little bit different which to you in your own kind of ego and vanity you think 'oh you know...that's just wrong'... you know where there's other people you know perhaps it apeals to them for completely different reasons. I often finish a scene in a movie and I think ...'oh god...that was fantastic...they must think I'm the best ever' and they go.. 'okay that was crap let's go again'...
CF: Uh! yeah....
GB: And you know.....you finish a scene and you think that was just awful and they go... 'oh my god that was fantastic!...great!' And I'm like..'are you crazy?' You know..you can never really tell and that's something that keeps you on your toes and its still to this day really refreshing about it is that um... I still feel in a lot of ways I don't know nothing about, about this (laughs). I mean I feel I know everything and yet I know nothing.