Category: RockNRolla News | Posted by: maryp
Article Date: October 26, 2008 | Publication: Herald Sun | Author: Lawrie Masterson
Publication/Article Link:Herald Sun
ON the day of what was meant to have been a tender, romantic moment in RocknRolla, at least for the other person involved, Gerard Butler was so sick he contemplated missing his first day of work in 11 years of professional acting.
"Oh, I was not feeling well that night," Butler says in his thick Scottish brogue. "You can actually hear it in my voice when you watch the film."
It took a vitamin shot -- expertly administered to Butler's backside by Madonna, the now-estranged wife of RocknRolla director Guy Ritchie -- and a variety of medications to get him in front of the camera.
The fact the big romantic scene was with another man seemed beside the point at that stage.
"About half an hour before we started I had to get a B12 shot in my a--- from Madonna," Butler, 38, says.
"I hadn't met her before and when we were just about to do that scene, she said, 'Ah, you're the sick one' and she basically started being my nurse.
"She put together a whole medicine cabinet of vitamin pills and things for me, which was really, really sweet of her, and she gave me a few of these vitamin B shots to take with me.
"And she actually gave me the first one in my a--- to kind of show me what to do."
The scene involves Butler, as a small-time East End gangster known only as One Two, in a car with one of his crew, Handsome Bob, played by Tom Hardy.
Handsome Bob, convinced he's about to go on an enforced "holiday" for couple of years, suddenly confesses he regards One Two as more than just a mate.
"It was my favourite scene in the film," Butler says. "It's the biggest test of everything One Two would stand for. What he hears in that car is so far out there for him. He wouldn't be able to think of anything more bizarre.
"Maybe it's cheap, but that's what makes it hilarious."
Butler was still ill when he was supposed to shoot another intimate scene, this time with gorgeous Thandie Newton, who plays Stella, the crooked accountant. Having already dragged One Two into a shady deal that's way over his head, Stella shows up unannounced at his door and, after being asked what she wants, bluntly replies: "You."
Ritchie had to film the ensuing scene with Butler and Newton never actually touching. Basically he shot each in close-up, then created the romantic heat in the editing suite.
It was, the three of them agree, a "happy accident". RocknRolla is Ritchie's return to the gritty gangster movie genre that made him famous with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000).
Real estate has supplanted drugs as the biggest market in London, with criminals -- specifically the Russian mafia -- the most enthusiastic developers.
Aided by Stella's inside knowledge, Butler's One Two, his partner, Mumbles (Idris Elba), and their offsider Handsome Bob try to play both sides of the fence in a deal between old school mobster Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) and shady Russian billionaire Uri Obomavich (Karel Roden).
Toby Kebbell, who co-starred in the acclaimed Control (2007), the biopic of Joy Division's tragic Ian Curtis, plays Johnny Quid, a drug-addled rock star who is Cole's stepson.
Butler says One Two could have been the stereotypical gangster of the genre but for Ritchie's touch.
"What Guy does so well is take that idea and turn it on its head and that's the very thing I bought into, as well," he says.
"You assume, just by who he is and his physical presence, that he's kind of machismo and he's smart, he's together, he's cool. And then it all goes wrong and you realise that, in fact, there's nobody like that."
Butler is adamant his days of petty crime are long gone. A lawyer, he admits to having first been arrested during his days as a law student for being drunk and "running around pretty much half naked on a bus" with some mates.
"We were just young upstarts," he says a little sheepishly.
After graduating, he decided to take a break of several months in the US.
"Then that became a year because I think I literally missed my flight home," he says.
"And I said, 'Oh, screw this. I'm not going back'.
"I stayed for a year and three months and I found myself in the police cells four times, always for stupid stuff like just being in a row. There was never anything masterminded or planned. I was just being too drunk or too rowdy or driving like that. It was a crazy time in my life.
"And it took many years of wanting to stop this craziness before it finally stopped. But I actually haven't drank or done anything of the likes of that for about 11 years.
"If I hadn't quit I wouldn't be anywhere now. I'd have been in one place and I wouldn't have moved and it would be very, very cold."