'Island' not so tropical..Still, Butler soaks up the fun

Category: Nim's Island News | Posted by: maryp
Article Date: March 30, 2008 | Publication: Chicago Sun Times | Author: CINDY PEARLMAN
Publication/Article Link:SunTimes.com

'Island' not so tropical after all
.. Still, Butler soaks up the fun of his new film

'Hey, I like Chicago," Gerard Butler is saying. "I'm a city guy."

"I've worked in Chicago and hung out in Chicago. I had a girlfriend who lived at the Taylor Street projects," says the 38-year-old Scottish screen hunk. "I would stay at the projects with her, and had the time of my life. I was this guy from Glasgow who just walked around the projects with attitude.

"I have to say that I was never hassled," says the man who saved Sparta as King Leonidas in "300." "I think life is all about attitude. And maybe I didn't notice if someone was about to hassle me at the projects. I was too busy kissing my beautiful girlfriend."

Butler is bringing his charm and attitude now to "Nim's Island," opening Friday. He plays a scientist, who, after the death of his wife, moves with his pre-teen daughter (Abigail Breslin of "Little Miss Sunshine") to a deserted island. When he is lost at sea, his daughter e-mails her favorite fiction book action character (Jodie Foster, as the book's author), who must fight her fears of leaving her house to save the little girl.

"It's sweet, funny and adventurous, but also a little dark at times," Butler says. "But in the end, the film has a nice message about courage and creating your own destiny. The message also is, 'You must get up off your ass in this life and do something in order to save yourself.' "

It wasn't easy for Butler to save himself on this shoot. Most of his scenes are spent lost at sea, where he's in the freezing cold ocean repeatedly.

"All of us were put through the mill on this one," he says. "It just became a joke. For me, I didn't realize exactly how much time I would spend in the water, and most of my boat stuff was done at sea.

"We filmed in Australia during the winter and I came to this set already sick with a chest thing from filming the new Guy Ritchie film 'RocknRolla.' Then I end up in this freezing ocean water where I thought I'd definitely get pneumonia," he says.

"I was soaking wet for most of my scenes. And the sea was bloody choppy. A few times my entire body went under the main tour ship we were using for the cameras. The current began to take me out. And you couldn't hold onto anything."

The film is also a virtual animal festival. "If the trainers were around, the animals were friendly, although the gigantic birds were hard to control," he shudders. "Abigail was great with the sea lions. I didn't feel like I could go over to a sea lion and give it a cuddle.

"To me, they looked so dangerous, and their teeth looked very sharp. They also weighed three or four times more than me. They looked at me like, 'Gerry, stay away.' Maybe they didn't like '300.' "