Butler Loves to 'Rock'

Category: RockNRolla News | Posted by: maryp
Article Date: September 5, 2008 | Publication: Hollywood Hitlist | Author: Gregory Ellwood
Publication/Article Link:Hollywood Hit List on MSN.com

Butler is ready to 'Rock'

Sitting down to talk to Gerard Butler at the beginning of the Toronto International Film Festival was close to a comedy of errors. Your intrepid columnist had just arrived in town after an overnight flight from the left coast with only a half hour of sleep to get him by, and the "300" star had just gotten in after a whirlwind opening for his new film "RocknRolla" in London the day before. Luckily, Butler had spent the whole day chugging down Coca-Colas to keep his energy up, and the Hitlist was happy to siphon off some of his enthusiasm as we chatted about the comeback effort of his director, Guy Ritchie.

Diving back into the London underground he chronicled so well in "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch," Ritchie has upped the ante this time by setting his tale within a booming real estate market flush with na´ve foreign investors. Butler plays One Two, the leader of a group of professional tough guys called the Wild Bunch. One Two and his close partner, Mumbles (Idris Elba), are trying to work their own get-rich scheme, but the notorious mob boss Lenny Cole (a sublime Tom Wilkinson) is out to scuttle their deal, as well as a few others. The stellar cast also includes Thandie Newton as a powerful accountant who seems to fear nothing; Tom Hardy ("Star Trek: Nemesis") as Handsome Bob, a member of the Bunch with a surprising secret; and Jeremy Piven and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, two American music producers who get caught in the Brits' crossfire. The characters intertwine in a complex narrative that makes the film's six-week shooting schedule seem like something close to a miracle.

"That's the crazy thing. I've done movies where I felt I had less opportunities to get it right. I'd love to use that as an excuse for any bad parts of my performance, but I always felt I got a fair crack at it," Butler says. "Guy has a way of making things move fast. There is no fuss in between. Nobody is precious. Not the camera department or the crew."

Butler thinks the time crunch actually helped the cast with their performances. The lack of private trailers and other Hollywood luxuries meant they only had more time to get to know each other and enjoy the ride.

"This is not a movie where you are working with a bunch of people who are from such different walks of life that they all go away and do their own thing," Butler reflects. "When you are in between scenes, you are hanging out. There were no airs and graces. We were all kind of thrown on top of each other and wanting to be. It was that kind of film."

The 38-year-old Scot continues, illustrating an example of how that camaraderie helped improve one of the funnier scenes in the movie. Butler says, "We're in the movie and Tom Hardy makes a phone call and he's flirting with another man and I'm like, 'You're scary good at that.' And that all became improvised and he's like, 'Oh, don't you love it, honey?' And I'm like, 'No.' And then I slap his head, but that's just because we are just sitting in the car between [takes] having a blast. There are a lot of actors who if I had slapped them across the side of the head would have gone, 'What the hell are you doing?' It would have been very precious actors, 'If you're going to slap me, tell me.' But he just burst out laughing."

Ritchie has spoken openly of pursuing a trilogy of "RocknRolla" films, and the first installment alludes to a sequel as the end credits begin. Butler says he's never actively pursued franchises or sequels, but would love to return in this case.

"I think most actors choose a franchise, if truth be told, for the money. Now, if I was gonna do this with Guy Ritchie it would be for the love, because I ain't making a lot of money on these movies," Butler jokes. "I love my character in this. I love him and all his insecurities and confusions and imperfections. I hope it [happens], for Guy and my own selfish fun."

The critically acclaimed thriller faces a daunting marketing challenge at the box office, but those who see it will no doubt be anxiously awaiting the return of One Two and his Wild Bunch.

"RocknRolla" opens in New York and Los Angeles on Oct 8. It expands nationwide on Oct. 31.