Interview: Gerard Butler of 300
Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: February 10, 2007 | Publication: Entertainment Junkies | Author: Powder
Gerard Butler (aka Gerry) has been my favorite actor now for about 5 years. His incredible talent, determination, and charisma are what attracted not only me but also thousands of other women to become fans. Now that he’s playing the King Leonidas in Warner Bros. pictures 300 his male fan base will no doubt skyrocket!
So to give you a fun spoiler quote into this interview… “The way we fight is fierce to say the least, fearless to say more… we kick ass, and we kick ass, and we kick ass.”
The interview was particularly difficult to conduct today, not only did my recording device decide not to work, but the phone system we were all on hated me was well. But what do I care, I got to be on the phone with Gerry! And it was easy to tell his excitement for the project, even when some of his past projects were mentioned there was just a tone to his voice that let you understand how much he believes in this project. So forgive some of the typing (the transcription of the interview), I’m a very fast typist, but I’m sure I missed a few words here and there – and anything that is in brackets is a fill in of something I missed but is the gist of what was said.
A little about Gerry: Scottish actor, Gerard Butler, began acting seriously at the age of 26 when he left his day job following Law School. Immediately gaining roles on stage and some small roles on film he left for LA and was cast for both the TV miniseries Attila and the feature film Dracula 2000 within months of his arrival. Since then his career has been taking off. Beating out numerous other well-known actors he landed the role of the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”. And now with his role as King Leonidas in 300 I expect to see much more of him in the future!
To catch any of you up that aren’t familiar with Frank Miller’s graphic novel turned epic film here is some info for you. 300 tells the story of King Leonidas (Gerry) and his army of 300 Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae against Persian King Xerxes.
Ignoring at times the actual events in the historical battle of Thermopylae, director Zack Snider decided to follow the look and feel of the graphic novel with epic results. Casting Gerry as the title role, the film began to take shape.
Not a comic book reader before this role, Gerry was impressed with the style and quality of another of Frank Miller’s graphic novels turned film, Sin City. This combined with the project of 300 itself, Gerry was hooked and entered himself into a strict training program months before the men cast as Spartans began to train.
As a leader not only on film but also as an example on set to the other actors he understood how important it was to let the character of the King in through the training. In answer to how he prepared for the role Gerry said,
”The physicality leads into so much… the strength of character, strength of mind. The power and fearlessness. I would train 6 hours a day, for 7 months [in advance]. Pumping iron on the set in-between shots. You can begin to see the size of yourself [and it begins to affect how you play the character]. You look and feel as powerful as possible… and let the character bleed through.”
“There are so many thing in preparation. The training will physically put you in the shape of the character. The way you move, the way you stand, the kind of voice you settle for, and the way you hold yourself. The way you express. The less you have to express the better. The more you can express in silence is better. What happens in the gaps what happens in the space [is more interesting and honest]…
I felt so superhuman, I felt I could take on a million people right then. I’m not saying I could, but I felt like I could. The testosterone is flying. You can’t feel any more like a king than that. You put on the costume and the swords start flying and shields start banging… [But] the silent internal stuff is the stuff I love to seal it with.”
A past project that he has worked on which was comparable in physicality was Beowulf and Grendel, filmed entirely in Iceland (outside of Reykjavik) against horrible weather and freezing water, he still sees 300 as a larger challenge.
“There was more time and effort put in [by all], I gave more blood, sweat, and tears. It’s more than I’ve given physically to any role.”
But the differences were in the nature of the project. This film was so different from anything he had worked on before. Set against a digital world, the film was shot almost entirely in front of a blue screen. The colors of the film have been “crunched” to give it an epic and mythological feel that is in tune with Miller’s graphic novel.
Working with the blue screens “was very different because in the past it [on other projects] it was only for a few shots and would be long and laborious… with this everything was just wrapped in blue, allowing us to get down to the nitty gritty and film the drama [of it all]. You really had to take a leap of faith and use your imagination.”
With the film being so huge and epic in nature, it was really the characters of the Spartans and their nature that make it all come together. He loved how well everyone on set worked together and how dedicated every cast and crew member was. My favorite of his descriptions is below:
”[In] this role I’m very focused on the graphic novel. If you have a look at that the tone, and feel, and strength, and power of these guys, it is almost monstrous and animal like. You see that in every stance that we need to take. You couldn’t be any more masculine or have any more gravitas in any moment. You allow yourself to feel instinctively and intuitively in that world. [the mythological world and …] Mythological values. You kind of abandon yourself to that. Especially dealing with heroes that are so bold and formidable and exceptionally brutal. It was good for me to focus on that absolute lack of compassion in the end which makes them more heroic, being unapologetic for their stance or the way they live.”
And his description of his character makes it clear how deeply he took in the role and tried to understand the nature of what his role meant to the rest of the story.
”There was a class and elegance in the script that was also powerful and brutal. His [King Leonidas’] nobility and valor is established. That’s not in question, without having to do a thing you can tell from his presence that he had the unwavering loyalty [of his people]… Heroes take advantage of the opportunity. Anything you can do to win and inflict pain on that person. We get to do that in this film. The way we fight is fierce to say the least, fearless to say more… We kick ass, and kick ass, and kick ass. That’s a cool thing to do to be a warrior that is just ultimately tough.”
So now that you have some greater insight into Gerry’s take on the film and his role, GO SEE THE FILM! It comes out on March 9, 2007 in both IMAX and theaters everywhere. And don’t forget to check out the links below for even more info on the prep and making of this movie! I’ll leave you now with a final word from Gerry about why you should see this film…
”Something about this film, that I always felt as we were working, was [in] some ways typically epic and some ways darker and edgier than had ever been seen before. Almost everything in this film is new and fresh to cinemas. It’s stepping into new territory that nobody else has.”