Gerard Butler Discusses 300
Category: 300 News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: March 5, 2007 | Publication: About.com | Author: Rebecca Murray
Warner Bros Pictures' 300 has generated more buzz leading up to its release than particularly any other film of the last dozen or so years - and with good reason. The big screen adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel delivers something we haven't seen before. The action-packed epic stars Gerard Butler as King Leonidas, the leader of the Spartans. Butler underwent months of strenuous workouts before shooting began and then once filming started, he pushed his body even further. But injuries aside, it's a safe bet Butler would do it all again.
Butler’s First Reaction to the Script and What It Required of Him: “I thought, ‘Oh s**t. Here we go again!’ (laughing) This script was so inventive and had a real mystery, it was very poetic.
In fact, some of it I found quite funny because when you describe, ‘a falling virgin lets the dying gasps of a soul out as he hits the ground,’ you think, ‘How can he possibly show that?’ And in some ways there is a suggestion as to the type of world and feel that you are coming into. It felt very classy and very dark and very difficult. I just thought, ‘This guy is fierce, this guy is ferocious. This guy is awesome and I want to try and be that guy.’”
Bringing King Leonidas to Life Onscreen: “There are times that we want him to mark this to remind you of the graphic novel element so there were scenes that literally, if you read the graphic novel, there were scenes that were the exact representations - including the way I’m bending forward like an animal ready to pounce. Even the way he sat with a spear and always taking very powerful-like Rodin the sculptor [poses], there’s always an element of those stances and power and masculinity. So there are some things that were exact representations and then there were the moments of battle where those lines define certain things. Like madness – this is Sparta and then you realize, ‘Okay, these guys are nuts,’ and they define a certain moment. That’s where you can let the comic book element slip in. Zack [Snyder] loved that, and for the madness this is Sparta – we get so many different levels.”
On the Suggestion He Channeled His Character: “Yeah, me channeling him - that’s exactly what I did. You are the only person who understood that – I channeled him. That’s how I played this role. I was in constant spiritual communication with him and he taught me everything I needed to know – the sword and the spear. Try not to laugh so hard (joking)… No, it was a lot of work from me. I felt that I worked really hard and I felt everybody worked really hard on this. And more than hard work, sometimes hard work doesn’t mean anything, but there is a huge amount of talent in this from the director, the art department, visual effects, you could make something insanely cool.”
The Film Walks a Fine Line Between Credibility and Being a Pastiche: “Good point, and that’s the challenge. This film is beautiful, the story is fantastic, but if you don’t get the right amount of strength and power and the larger feel and energy of the piece, then you’re going to miss out. What you really need to combine that with is humanity. You pick your points for that, but I felt this King – you really could feel on one end of the scale, his compassion and consideration for his family, his child, his nation, for his men… But then at the other end, that unwavering commitment and ferocity and almost to an extent, insanity, because what they took on was insane but their belief and their conditioning is so over-riding. They didn’t just think, ‘We’re going to die.’ They thought, ‘300 of us are going to go and we’re going to win this war.’ And that’s a pretty exceptional way to think. I think he was a pretty exceptional man to make his men think that.”
His Reputation as a Sex Symbol: Butler’s already hearty reputation as a major sex symbol is only going to increase with 300. But bring the subject up and the actor’s quick to point out it’s not something he cares about all that much. “Listen, I’d rather… I’ll be honest, I don’t get too caught up in that. I’m really far more about, ‘Is the film good? Did I perform okay? Did people dig it?’ And if people want to go further than that, of course, that’s a huge compliment. I would rather that then they say, ‘He’s an ugly son of a bitch. That Gerry Butler has no sex appeal whatsoever.’ It’s good to be appreciated. I’d rather be appreciated for talent than just looks, but hey, I’ll take that as well.”
When it’s pointed out a lot of magazines will probably want to feature full page spreads of some of the shots of his body in the film, Butler joked, “Is that right? Tell me which ones and I’ll go out and get them. I love looking at myself. That is a joke! I see when I make a joke and people start writing it down I think, ‘Oh, now I’m in trouble!’”
Troy, Alexander and Now 300: Historical epics haven’t done well recently, however Butler believes audiences will understand 300 is nothing like either Troy or Alexander. “I mean, I knew right from the start this is not like any of those. This is a beast unto itself. And, yeah, in a way, on the one hand you think, ‘I hope people don’t think this is one of them,’ but in a way you’re glad for them because it made me also think people are waiting for something like this. We haven’t been shown a new way for this to be done and this is the new way for this to be done. Maybe if it had just been Gladiator and this, this would not have been so impactful. But fortunately we had Troy and Alexander (laughing). And King Arthur and Kingdom of Heaven, so we had four to give people a chance to actually enjoy one of them.”
His Thoughts on the Music Used in 300: “I love the music in this film. I think it’s a great job and this is exactly the type of movie, the music I hoped for. At times it’s very operatic and it also contains an element of mysticism of another type, and then its absolute rock as well. That’s really what sets it apart. It says, ‘We’re not taking this too seriously, but at the end of the day this is also a very entertaining story told in an action packed way.’ If you can be moved or inspired or just feel something about these people and what they went through and what they stood for, then that’s awesome too.”
Acting with a Cape, Shield, Sword and Not Much Clothing: Gerard Butler’s mostly naked (a codpiece covers the essentials), but the cape was the real difficult part of his attire. “That’s all there was to deal with there. It takes a lot more work – not just the cape because to be honest you could work out ways to make sure the cape wasn’t getting in the way, but it’s always going to happen. That thing has a life of its own and I’d think sometimes it wanted to get involved in the battle. It was hard because it flies around and gets stuck inside your cape, and you have to shout immediately because there are 50 guys running to hit you with a sword or spear and after you’ve made that mistake and you can’t defend yourself, you’ll get hurt.”
And Speaking of Getting Hurt: He did, every single day.
“And not because the stunt guys weren’t amazing, but you can’t be around this kind of equipment and going through this kind of stuff and be so pumped up and not hurt yourself. One of the best ones I did, I turned to do this move and it was so well done I thought. It went right into the side of somebody’s shield and it just caught the edge of it and it ripped. My hands were cut to shreds… They wouldn’t even let me fly. The next day I tried to fly, we finished, packed all my stuff and went to the airport. The immigration woman said, ‘So you’re going to the States?’ I said, ‘Yes I am.’ She said, ‘What’s up with your hands?’ And I said I’d been scraping the ground and doing a film with swords. She said, ‘Come with me.’ So I missed my flight; I had to take all my stuff back home again.”
Butler swears it’s a true story. “Yeah! And my driver, who became a good friend of mine, he was an assistant as well, I’d just said goodbye to him, given him a hug and said, ‘I’ll miss you, man. Thanks for everything.’ Meanwhile he goes to get breakfast in the airport and meanwhile I go to get grilled, and they say, ‘Okay, you’re fine to go.’ So my flight is missed, I walk back out, get all my stuff and I’m walking out and he’s walking back from the breakfast place.
They eventually let me in but what happened was she sees a guy coming through, she didn’t recognize me, she just sees this guy who looks a little crazy. I promised her the craziness in my eyes and my hands, which were all cut to shreds, and I gave her a really silly answer. I told her, ‘I’m an actor and doing a film with swords.’”