What the Butler said

Category: Misc./General Career News | Posted by: maryp
Article Date: March 1, 2009 | Publication: Sunday Post | Author: Unknown
Publication/Article Link:Sunday Post

From gangster movies to romantic comedies, Gerard Butler’s career is going from strength to strength, as Darryl Smith finds out.

WHILE those outside the industry may dream of the Hollywood lifestyle, Gerard Butler was exposed to the harsh realities of acting very early on in his career. The Glasgow-born star was playing Archie Brown, younger brother of John, in the 1997 Oscar-nominated hit Mrs Brown. It was his first day in his very first movie role and as such he was eager to please. So when director John Madden said he wanted Gerard and co-star Billy Connolly to bound naked into a freezing sea the debutant accepted the challenge with abandon. But while the Big Yin has gained some public notoriety for undressing in the open air, Gerard had yet to acquire the skill and, as a result of his skinny dip, he developed hypothermia.

Years later, and with Gerard now a firmly established star, having appeared in Tomb Raider, Phantom of the Opera and 300, the part demanded that he’d to take his clothes off again. This time it was for romantic comedy PS I Love You and this time it was his co-star that required medical assistance. In a hapless seduction scene where Gerard clumsily performs a striptease to pacify his wife (played by Hilary Swank) after an argument, real-life imitated the art and Gerard caused Hilary an injury when the clip on an elastic brace sprang back and hit the Million Dollar Baby star over the eye. Where undressing is concerned, twice bitten, three times shy it would seem. “Trust me, if I can keep my clothes on in a movie I would rather do that every time over having to get undressed,” the handsome actor tells me, smiling at the thought of the mishaps that occur when he strips off on a movie set. “The injury to Hilary was worse than any injury that happened on 300, which was a far easier movie to get injured on.

“There was a guy who got an eye injury which was pretty bad, but Hilary’s injury was worse — she had five stitches in her head. Five stitches in your head is worse than most actors will ever get in their career, but if you’re going to get it you’re going to get it from me.”

Undaunted, Gerard will return in another romantic comedy in what is expected to be one of the summer’s big hits, The Ugly Truth. In it he plays a chauvinistic morning television correspondent who uses the show’s producer (Katherine Heigl) to prove his theories on relationships. His clever ploys, however, lead to an unexpected result. While the truth about Gerard Butler is not ugly, it is unexpected. Approaching his 40th birthday (he reaches the landmark in November) he reveals something of a penchant for interior design. “It started for me in London,” says the Scot, who moved South after graduating from Glasgow University with a law degree. “I have a place there — it’s lying empty at the moment — that I first did up many years ago and thought, ‘Look at this, it’s awesome’. And I realised then that it was something I could do, much to everyone’s surprise, to be honest. People constantly walk into my place and say, ‘Wow, this is you?’”

As Gerard’s career has grown so has his range of roles. Following his lead as the Phantom of the Opera in the 2004 film of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Gerard bought himself a place in New York. And after playing Leonidas, King of the Spartans, in 300 — a film that took $210 million at the US box office alone — it was time to upgrade to a place in Los Angeles.

“It took me four years to get the place in New York how I wanted it and I’m so proud of it, and now I’m doing the same thing in LA as well. I like the old style. I broke my place in New York apart to make it look much older, like an old apartment in Bologna or somewhere.

“The ironic thing is that even though now I have a house in LA, I’m trying to spend more time in New York because I’ve just got that place how I want it. I’m constantly working on a place somewhere.”

With a successful career and a full-time hobby to keep him busy it’s not a huge surprise to find out that Gerard, who prefers to be called Gerry once you get to know him, hasn’t got time for much else besides. As the new man in town, the hunky actor spent much of 2008 denying that he was romantically linked to just about every single actress in LA. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston and Paris Hilton were among those paired off with him in the US gossip mags at some point last year. The truth is somewhat different.

“It would be great to settle down but at the same time I sometimes think if anything had happened differently and I was in a long-term relationship I wouldn’t be where I am now in my career.

“If I’d had to make the sacrifices that a relationship would have required, I’d probably have been a lot happier in some respects, but I wouldn’t have been as successful. I wouldn’t have advanced as far in my career.

“I’d love to have children but I won’t be the only 40-year-old that doesn’t have kids. I’ll be happy when it happens. I’m realistic about that. A lot of happiness comes out of the excitement of watching your career progress and jump forwards and there’s also a lot of happiness you can get out of being in love and being in a relationship. The comfort and foundation you take from that is not something you get when you’re being crazy busy and successful and travelling all over the place because at the end of the day you’re not in a relationship.”

When not being linked with available women, Gerry is being linked with films. A sequel to Phantom of the Opera is being talked about, as is a long-held desire of his to make a film about the life of Robert Burns. That would bring him back to his native land, a place which the passionate patriot says is never far away from his thoughts, even as he gets further and further away from home. “I miss the people and the countryside. Scotland is such a beautiful country and I know that whenever I return and look at that it’s like big therapy for me, everything relaxes, and I’m inspired and relaxed all at once.

“And the people, the humour. I was out with a buddy of mine in New York, who is Scottish, and my side was splitting, just the way he said things. I miss that about being in Scotland — that sense of humour, that sharpness.”

It is that fervour for his homeland which Gerry has had to bring to the Burns biopic, a project that he has talked about for most of the past decade. Does the fact that he is now in a position to use his name to get that £5 million movie off the ground prove to Gerry that he’s cracked it in the notoriously fickle film business?

“It depends on what you mean by ‘cracked it’,” he responds. “For showing people ‘this guy can act’ it was Dear Frankie that did it for me. It didn’t make a lot of money but it was always the movie that, if I was talking to a director, he would watch and normally something favourable would happen from that. And Phantom, despite the fact that it didn’t break any box office records, still got me a lot of recognition. But if cracked it means really cracking it, then it would have to be 300.

“I guess there’s a lesson in there. That if you do something for nothing (Dear Frankie) you’ll get the rewards further down the line.

“I remember making that film with the actress Emily Mortimer and we would say to each other, ‘Nobody is ever going to see this movie’. We didn’t know if it was going to turn out well but we both thought it was just such a beautiful story and something we wanted to do. In actual fact, I thought the movie turned out great.

“Although, saying all that, I also made Dracula 2000 and Joel Schumacher says that it was that movie — which he only went to see because he’d seen the other six movies on at the Cineplex at the time — which he came away from thinking, ‘I’m going to work with that guy sometime’ and from that came Phantom. So it also shows that if you do a load of rubbish that might also work out as well!”

Gerard Butler can currently be seen in RocknRolla, which went on DVD release in February 2009.