Gerard Butler, King Leonidas Interview
Category: Interviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: March 21, 2007 | Publication: FemaleFirst.Co.Uk | Author: editors
QUESTION: What were your thoughts on Frank Millerís graphic novel, 300, prior to making the film?
GERARD BUTLER: You know, itís just such a beautifully conceived world, not just by Frank, but by Lynn Varley as well. The colors that are used, the shapes, the tones, and, in fact, to me, I could tell you all about the research that I did, but just like Zack himself said, thatís the world that we drew from Ė the world that they created, the characters. You could tell so much just from the way that Leonidas would position himself, just those stances, and the way they walked, and the way they moved. I had just read the graphic novel when I first went to meet Zack. Thatís why I was jumping around with him because I was saying what these guys are like, animals, bam, jumping up and down. I was pretty much on top of the coffee table. I find the source material such a kick ass, pumping story with very unusual heroes. Theyíre not very hero-like in a lot of ways. Theyíre kind of bastards, tough as you like.
QUESTION: But thereís also that heightened reality. How did you maintain that energy level yet keep it real?
GERARD BUTLER: Itís a fine line to tread. I think people are too easy to rubbish the work that it takes to perform in an action movie, especially one like this, because youíre dealing with tricky dialogue thatís not in any way modern, or easy to express. Youíre dealing with values, situations, and scenarios that are so huge and difficult to comprehend. And youíre, as you say, in a whole other reality. On the one hand, you have to be as big and as powerful, as compelling as that reality. But on the other hand, you have to be human, and real. Otherwise, thereíd be no story because it would be like the armor that you wear. It wouldnít penetrate in any way into an audienceís heart. So, you have to let them into your heart. But if there was a film ever and a role ever in which you could do that in the most roundabout way, by completely keeping it inside, this was the role. It was really interesting for me to toy with that, to let out an arrogance, and let out a kind of super-confidence, an incredible power and intensity, and yet, at the same time, show that this man had humanity, and compassion, and that he had feeling about what he was, what he was doing and, effectively, what that meant in terms of his nation, his own family, his own life.
QUESTION: You mentioned the armor that you wear in the film. Do the clothes make the man?
GERARD BUTLER: To me, I think that the clothes taketh away the man. And then, eventually, make him. I think, in this respect, when we first wore the clothes, it was like, ĎWhat the hell is going on?í It was a little bit scary, and we had to look at each other and laugh, because sometimes you prepare for a film, and there can be one thing that nobody thought about, that is actually a gaping error. But, of course, after a day of just walking around in it, you quickly get to a zero balance of you feel okay, and then, for me, like in every role Ė because Iíve had to wear a lot of interesting outfits and costumes Ė then I start to allow it to define me and to define my character. And I trained so hard that a combination of the training and the costume helped me become that lion, that king, to the extent that when I put on the cape, and when I put on the leather codpiece, I felt pretty powerful standing up there. And you really start to use it, start to love it.
QUESTION: Did you shoot the whole film on a soundstage?
GERARD BUTLER: Thereís one shot in the whole film, when the horses are riding into Sparta, that was shot outside. But even the shot with the horses in the attack, when theyíre attacking the Spartans, that was inside. So, every shot was inside a soundstage.
QUESTION: Was it strange for you to interact against a blue screen environment?
GERARD BUTLER: You have a choice: I can either worry about this, and get into the silliness of it, or I can get into the beauty and the power of it. So, Iím good at kicking it out. And when youíre surrounded by 70 guys, and theyíre all looking the same, you quickly forget about it. And when you start training, and youíre doing your action stuff, and the testosterone and adrenaline come in, youíre glad youíre wearing that stuff, because you really start to feel like youíre on a battlefield, and youíre, and youíre getting into something very cool, and very violent, and very masculine.
QUESTION: This movie has gotten such enthusiastic reactions at screenings. Whatís the buzz been like for you?
GERARD BUTLER: Itís weird. As an actor, youíre always wanting to do a film that has great reactions, and Iíve experienced that along the way, most notably with Dear Frankie, because it was such a small movie to get big standing ovation in Cannes. That was really special, because it wasnít a big film. But without a doubt, this is the film thatís getting a more constant, incredible reaction than any other film. But then, you get it, and itís difficult to connect with because youíre not there. You just hear it. The power of this film is seeing it with a big audience. Thereís something about it; itís not like a normal cinema experience. You may not realize this is happening, but you actually are thriving off of the energy of everybody else. So, it becomes just like the combined energies of 300 people that were very focused, made them all powerful. Itís kind of like that, I think, in the audiences. When you know that itís all right to laugh, and itís all right to gasp, and itís all right to shout out, then everybody starts doing it. That first screening I went to, I couldnít believe it. I mean, there were people jumping out of their seats at points, and whooping, and wahoo-ing, and doing the Spartan chants, and clapping, and laughing. The bigger the audience, the better the experience, I think.
QUESTION: What was it like to go to Comic-Con to show the first footage to fans of the property?
GERARD BUTLER: I went down there. I had been away in the desert for a month. I think Iíd met, like, two people in a month, and then I came back and, literally, went home, got into bed, got up, flew down to San Diego, and went to Comic-Con. So, it couldnít have been a better experience for me. That was a buzz. There are certain defining moments in your career. It was a rock concert. I mean, they went nuts, and I think a lot of people down at Comic-Con talked about it, the reaction that it got. And we ended up showing it three times, although they say thatís because the audience demanded it three times. One of them was me. So, not just was I experiencing the audience reacting like they did, but that was the first time Iíd seen any of this film on the big screen. Iím, like, ĎWe have to see that again.í David Wenham and I got down on the stage, looking up, and I was mesmerized. I remember tapping him. Heís, like, ĎI think weíre on a winner here.í It was just a great moment. And itís all the more exciting for this film. Dear Frankie was exciting because it was a small film. This film is exciting because it was all on blue screen. So, you made it. You had an idea. I mean, you saw renderings of how it was going to look. But when I saw it, in some way, I canít say I was as shocked as everybody else. I had more involvement, knew the world, but, in some ways, I am like an audience member as well, because it is a world that I hadnít seen finished before, had a rough idea but I hadnít seen it. Those backgrounds werenít there when I was filming. Those mountains werenít there. That made the experience twice as cool for me.
QUESTION: Was this the most physically challenging role you have played?
GERARD BUTLER: Yeah, it was the most physically challenging. I actually found The Phantom very physically exhausting as well, but I think the emotionality of the Phantom made me so physically exhausted and a lot of the time constraints, the hours I had to work, with the makeup. Beowulf, filming in Iceland, out 16-17 hours a day in terrible conditions, that was tough. This was challenging, insomuch as it was intense and I have never trained so hard for a role. Any time I wasnít working, I was at the gym with the trainer. I would also train with my stunt double at the gym. And then, Iíd pump in between shots. And Iíd be screaming a bit; I could feel my shoulders snapping. And I didnít think this is going to hurt you in the long term, until afterwards, when everything just seized up. But to be honest, all of that, I wouldnít take any of it back. It was all perfect for putting me not just physically in that shape, and thatís why I say, it was when I could therefore use the cape, and feel the king, because I knew also the other work that Iíd done as a mental preparation.
QUESTION: Can you tell us about your next film, P.S. I Love You?
GERARD BUTLER: Iím playing opposite Hilary Swank, a kind of Irish boy who meets this wonderful American girl. We fall madly in love, and then tragic things happen. But itís actually hilarious, and kind of sad, and beautiful. It has a real spiritual feel about it, that film. Iím really excited about that one. Richard LaGravenese is a god.
QUESTION: Did you shoot in Dublin?
GERARD BUTLER: We shot in Dublin, just outside Dublin. And Wicklow, and then, in New York.