My days of partying are over, reveals Gerard Butler

Category: Interviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: April 1, 2008 | Publication: Daily Record | Author: Rick Fulton
Publication/Article Link:Daily Record

HOLLYWOOD has been fighting over Gerard Butler since he flashed his acting talent - and his amazing six-pack - in 300. Yet he can walk down the street unrecognised in his native Scotland.

No doubt that is because the handsome actor has worn a mask in his two biggest films to date.

The 38-year old wowed the critics as the masked hero in the 2004 film version of The Phantom Of The Opera.

Then his features were hidden by a warrior's helmet to play King Leonidas in 2006's 300.

But that hasn't stopped Gerard - who was born in Glasgow and brought up in Paisley - stacking up the roles to become second only to James McAvoy as the hottest Scot in LA.

After his recent rom-com success in P.S. I Love You, he is about to hit the big screen alongside Jodie Foster and Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin as a remote dad turned action hero in family flick Nim's Island.

He is also in Guy Ritchie's new London gangster flick RocknRolla, will team up with 27 Dresses beauty Katherine Heigl for The Ugly Truth and is in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables: Capone Rising.

Weird, then, that this in-demand star is still just a face in the crowd at home.

He grinned: "The funny thing is, in Scotland, I think people know who I am but they see me as a Scottish guy doing well in Hollywood.

"I was back in Glasgow at Christmas and I walked down the street and wasn't recognised once."

Joking about his big roles, he added: "I put a mask on and still they didn't recognise me. I was disappointed."

At least not being recognised isn't spoiling his view of his homeland.

Now living out of homes in Los Angeles and New York, he gushed: "Scotland is a magical experience.

"I know so many people from all over the world who have been there who have the most incredible time.

"It stays with you for a long, long time because it is a magical, historical land.

"There are so many places to go. All over the Highlands and off the west coast there is a mixture of rough coastline and rockiness and islands - then there are palm trees as well because of the Gulf Stream. It is such a beautiful country.

"I miss the freshness, the untouched feel about it and also how much it haunts you, how much it stays with you in your soul."

This Scottish tough guy has gone a bit LA, by the sounds of it.

But that's not the only change in the life of a man who turned to acting after his first love, the law, fell through.

Gerard graduated from Glasgow University and landed a trainee position with a legal firm-until his bosses grew tired of the wild partying which left him late or hung over and fired him.

Spurred on to change his life around, he headed to London.

Not only did he give up on booze, he also landed the lead role of Renton in the 1996 stage adaptation of Train spotting, which in turn led to his movie break opposite Billy Connolly in Mrs Brown.

Gerard said: "I have done a lot of partying in my life. Now, I don't drink anymore. I quit many years ago. It was time to stop, but I did have a lot of fun back then.

"I stopped when I moved to London. It was hard to give up while in Scotland, where most of my friends were.

"When I was telling guys I was trying to stop drinking, they started to laugh.

"They thought it was funny and told me, 'But we love it when you are drunk.

You smash up cars, jump off buildings, and get into fights - you even try to set yourself on fire. We love that.'"

IN contrast, Gerard's life these days is more work than wild.

He said: "You go out a lot more when you are younger. Now I work a lot more - and I find it hard.

"I often work 16 hours per day. It is crazy. I am working non-stop.

"My start is usually about 5am and I don't get home until around 9pm, then I climb straight into bed.

"If I go out one night in the middle of that, I am as good as dead. It screws me up for a week."

This clean-living approach has also fuelled Gerard's latest battle - he gave up smoking a few months ago and admits he is finding it tough.

Following a well-worn celebrity path, he has found release through yoga with guru-to-the-stars Deepak Chopra.

Gerard said: "I tried everything but what finally worked for me was hypnotism then I went down to the Chopra Centre - actually, I went to Deepak Chopra's place.

"Because I love him and his writing, I went there and spent two weeks meditating and studying meditation academically and also doing yoga and doing a course called Perfect Health.

"A lot of the reason why I loved smoking was because I get very tense and need to keep myself busy.

"I live a very fast-paced life and quite a stressful life and I'm always busy.

"It has been my experience that, when I go to a place where I actively have to engage in being relaxed, I have a constant nagging voice which yells, 'I'm just sitting about on this beach doing nothing'.

"I find that hard. I like it for a couple of days and then I'm like, 'I have to do something.' "When I was at the Chopra Centre, I got engaged in those activities and I didn't need cigarettes."

Now he is managing to conquer that demon, perhaps Gerard will turn his thoughts to romance.

But, with so many jobs on the go, he insists there has been no time to woo any among the army of fans he won in 300.

He said: "No girls have been seeing whether I'm still in good shape.

"They might in the future but I haven't been showing it off in the way I think you mean."

However, he admits not being in a relationship sometimes worries him.

He said: "There's always a pay-off, isn't there?

"You're busy, you're having a great time and then you stop and think, 'Wait a minute. I'm not really giving any relationship a chance here because I'm working so much.'"

And the actor, who kissed Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You, takes it as a huge joke when talk turns to his heart-throb image.

Asked if he looks in the mirror and congratulates himself on being a sex symbol, he joked: "I've been doing that since I was two.

"When I am filming, I don't feel like a sex symbol, I feel I am doing my job.

"It is a nice compliment but you don't want to get too caught up something like that, because you don't want to start to play towards that.

"I am completely, truly unaware what is sexy in a guy.

"It surprises me what women find sexy. I can't imagine why a guy stripping is sexy.

"I don't know what men do that is sexy.

"It is a hard question to answer, to presume your own sexiness."

Of course, as a star - and one who doesn't seem to go out socialising - it is probably hard for Gerard to find a woman with the right intentions.

Now - with Nim's Island out next month and RocknRolla scheduled for October - Gerard hopes his boosted profile could soon nudge into production a Robert Burns movie he's been tied to for a long time.

Perhaps by returning to work in Scotland he might finally get recognised at home ... and find the perfect woman.

Nim's Island is released on May 2.

'At Christmas I was backout in Glasgow and didn't get recognized, even in my mask. I was disapointed'