Gerard Butler Rocks
Category: RockNRolla News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: November 27, 2008 | Publication: Business Mirror | Author: editors
Publication/Article Link:Business Mirror
Battersea Power Station is falling down around us, but there’s something rather wonderful about the cracked glass, clumps of weeds and piles of rubble clustered round its four iconic chimneys, still most famous for gracing the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals. The building has a starring role in Guy Ritchie’s new film RocknRolla, a tale of stolen paintings, stolen cash and stolen hearts set deep in London’s gangster underworld.
With his latest film, Ritchie once again draws the curtains back and lets a bit of light on this twilight world of men with guns, strange names and dubious means of income, as he did with previous films Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. But when asked during a break in shooting whether he thinks the film is a spiritual sequel to his earlier films, Ritchie jokes, “‘Spiritual’ wouldn’t be the first word to come to mind. It’s in the same vein, if you will, because it’s reasonably funny. But the first requisite on this film was to make it entertaining. So, I suppose the first word that would spring to mind would be ‘entertaining.’”
It was this aspect that caught the eye of producer Joel Silver, who was scouting for projects to make under his Dark Castle imprint. Silver had been pursuing Ritchie for some years, but suddenly and unexpectedly found the tables turned. “When I first saw Lock, Stock, I was shocked at how many ideas Guy was using, cinematically, that we were exploring in The Matrix—not so much in terms of content as in style,” Silver recalls. “I was very impressed by how he used the camera to tell his story. But then one day he called me up and said, ‘I’ve written this script. It’s in the vein of my other British gangster movies, and I think you might be interested.’ I read it over a weekend and on Monday morning, I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ He said, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Yeah. Give me some names and faces.’ And off we went.”
MARVELOUS MIX “Gerry is that intangible mix of charm and danger, of sincerity and guile,” says Ritchie of his RocknRolla star.
The filmmaker brought together a colorful combination of acclaimed actors whose interactions determine the film’s labyrinthine plot. Ritchie has drawn his core team from the wealth of British talent that is currently available, including Gerard Butler (300), Thandie Newton (Crash) and Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom), as well as breaking names like Mark Strong (Body of Lies), Idris Elba (TV’s The Wire), Toby Kebbell (Control) and Tom Hardy (Layer Cake). The film also features two American actors as music managers: Jeremy Piven (TV’s Entourage) and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (Crash). “We tried to get as capable a cast as possible together, so I like to think we chose people who were right for the roles,” Ritchie notes. “We also wanted to make it as international as we possibly could, so it’s not like Snatch and Lock, Stock in that respect.” Because the plot takes frequent turns, it makes sense to view the film through the characters who weave through it, and the first people we meet are a pair of “chancers” by the names of One Two (Butler) and Mumbles (Elba), who, aided by their accomplice Handsome Bob (Hardy), attempt to invest in property, fail to secure the proper planning, and find themselves in debt to Lenny Cole (Wilkinson), the underhanded crime boss who has secretly engineered the sorry situation. For the part of One Two, Ritchie cast Gerard Butler, fresh off his success in the blockbuster 300.
“I was in Cannes at the time,” recalls Butler, “and my agent sent the script to me. I said, ‘You know what? This is perfect.’ I didn’t really know what to expect with Guy, because I’d never spoken to him, but he was just so nice and easygoing, and he said, ‘I’ll tell you right now—I want you to play this role.’ To which I said, ‘Well, I’d love to do it.’” Butler had wanted to work with Ritchie since seeing Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. “When I opened the script for RocknRolla, it was everything I could have dreamed of,” says the actor. “The film is thought-provoking, but it has also got humor, violence and silliness.”
Ritchie says that the actor possessed all the qualities he envisioned when he created the role of One Two. “Gerry is that intangible mix of charm and danger, of sincerity and guile.” Once on the set, the director praised the actor’s instincts, noting, “Gerry immediately understood what we were doing, which made my work much easier,” he says. “He basically nailed everything on one take.” Butler, in turn, attributes his understanding to the director. “Guy knew exactly what he wanted and made it easy for us as actors to follow his train of thought. He’s an amazing director.”
Like Leonidas, Butler’s character in 300, One Two is a very physical person, but that’s where the comparisons end. “In a way, it’s the opposite of Leonidas,” Butler explains, “because in 300 my character’s manliness, his machoness, is completely taken for granted. In RocknRolla, though, my character is always taking a step back, thinking, ‘Well, wait a minute, I thought I was tough....’ But having said that, One Two is a smart guy. We didn’t want to play on any kind of dumbness; in some ways, we wanted to play the opposite. These guys are kind of smart. They’re street-wise, and they probably could have gone to university and done very well in business, but they made it in different ways, and they all came together by being devious entrepreneurs.”
That’s not to say One Two is a pushover. “I think One Two was always known as One Two,” reckons Butler, “because you don’t want to mess with him. He’s a bit of a tough guy. But he’s not inclined that way. None of his crew really is. He’s just a guy who grew up on the wrong side of the street there, came down to London, met these guys, and they just became fast friends. To him, the whole business is as much about being with his buddies. So, I guess it’s a buddy movie in that respect—whatever they’re going through, they’re going through it together.”
One of Butler’s most memorable scenes was an epic chase through neighborhood backyards, train tracks and warehouses in which One Two is being pursued by two Russian thugs. “It’s an incredibly long and tense action sequence, but it’s also very funny because the guys chasing us cannot be stopped,” Butler says with a laugh. “We shoot them, we hit them, we club them, we crash our cars into them, and they just keep coming. The scene really speaks to Guy’s incredible aesthetic and energy. It’s one of the most unique chase scenes I’ve ever seen, or certainly that I’ve been a part of.”
Butler will be seen next in the romantic comedy The Ugly Truth, opposite Katherine Heigl under the direction of Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde).
***Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, RocknRolla will be shown exclusively at Glorietta 4 and Greenbelt 3 starting December 3.