Butler's career is cruising but it's about to get Ugly

Category: Interviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: July 17, 2009 | Publication: TheRecord.com | Author: Ian Spelling
Publication/Article Link:The Record

Butler's career is cruising but it's about to get Ugly Star of 300 says new film with Katherine Heigl will shock with frankness

Gerard Butler + 300 = life-changer.

"300, that really changed everything," Butler growls in his Scots burr.

And who could disagree? The action epic, released in 2006 with Butler playing the chiseled, manly and righteous warrior hero, King Leonidas, was a surprise hit and transformed him from a potential star into a supernova. Since 300 he has scored modest hits with three very different films: the romance P.S. I Love You (2007), the family fantasy Nim's Island (2008) and Guy Ritchie's acclaimed British crime caper RocknRolla (2008).

"It opened a lot of doors, professionally," Butler says. "I'd been going through doors, I guess. Things had a steady pace and a steady rise to them, but 300 went ballistic. I thought, initially, that after that it would definitely help me in the realm of action movies, but it helped me in everything. I was being offered dramas and romantic comedies too, and it was kind of a dream come true because, at the end of the day, it was what I was really wanting to do, spread my wings and take on new challenges.

"Personally, there's a lot to be said for the fun of having to fight for something when you're on your way up," he continues. "That's when a lot of the fun in acting happens. It's the pressures, the not knowing what's going to happen in a month.

"And when it pays off with something like a 300, something you're proud of and happy with, and it takes off the way it does, it's definitely a dream come true," Butler says. "Then, at that point, it's nice to know that things are going well, that the opportunities will be there, that the train is now going without you having to push it. It's going down the track and it has its own steam."

But with greater fame comes greater scrutiny. Butler may not be a tabloid favourite, but his anonymity is a thing of the past and he admits to mourning the loss.

"Hugely, hugely," Butler says, speaking by telephone from his Manhattan apartment. "I love where my career is going. I love the success of it, I love the opportunities it affords. So I wouldn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I know the trade-offs and I do miss my anonymity.

"The more your career grows, the more you appreciate how much you have valued being under the radar," he says. "You could do whatever you were doing and didn't have to worry about being spotted or being crowded, or about paparazzi. But these issues aren't huge. They can be a bit of an inconvenience, some of them are unexpected, but they're nothing I can't handle, and I wouldn't change anything."

Butler's star promises to shine even brighter with his latest film, The Ugly Truth. The July 24 release casts him as Mike, a chauvinistic morning-show commentator who immediately clashes with his new, romance-leery producer, Abby (Katherine Heigl). Would it surprise anyone to hear that sparks fly between Mike and Abby, even as he helps her try to snag a dreamy surgeon (Eric Winter)?

The film will head into theatres with an R rating, and Butler raucously promises that The Ugly Truth will live up to its rating.

"It's just downright outrageous," he says. "There's definitely going to be a lot of talk about the movie. People are going to say, 'Did he really just say that?"Is that really what's happening between men and women right now?'

"I think its frankness and its openness about what men really think in terms of women, in terms of relationships . . . We talk about it so much, but I've never really heard it being expressed in a movie like I have in this," the actor says. "That, I think, is the difference between this and most romantic comedies. I'm (really) just laughing thinking about it, but it's so outrageous and irreverent and dirty and sexy and squealing and squawking. It's all going on there. It's a veritable orgy."

Butler's partner throughout The Ugly Truth -- besides the gorgeous young twins with whom Mike frolics around -- is Heigl, and the Scot once again lets the colourful adjectives fly when discussing his leading lady.

"She's incredible," he says. "One, she's a very strong character, very, very charismatic. She has both of these things going on, this power, but yet this elegance and beauty and almost an element of innocence about her. She's hilarious, too. At the same time, you don't want to mess with her, either as Katie or as Abby.

"I think the second we got on set the sparks were going, the game was really lifted," Butler says. "You do a rehearsal and she's ready to go. I'm somebody who comes to it in various, different ways. I explode. I'm more, I would say, unpredictable. Not that she's predictable, but Katie never makes a mistake. She's there and she has a great performance pretty much immediately. I don't think I can say that about myself."

The Ugly Truth will kick off a spate of Butler films set for release during the next year. The actor, who will turn 40 in November, plays a prisoner trapped and manipulated within a multiplayer online game in Gamer, set to open on Sept. 4. He provides the voice of the Hairy Hooligan tribe leader Stoick the Vast in an animated version of Cressida Cowell's children's fantasy novel, How to Train Your Dragon. He both produced and stars in Law Abiding Citizen, a revenge thriller co-starring Jamie Foxx. The latter two films will be released in 2010.

Also likely to be released next year is another film, tentatively titled Bounty Hunter. The action film stars Butler as a bounty hunter on the trail of a target all too familiar to him: his ex-wife (Jennifer Aniston).

"I can't believe how much I'm doing," Butler shouts after listening to a rundown of his upcoming titles.

All of which makes one wonder, what does a free day mean to Butler these days?

"A free day means a lot of time in bed," Butler says. "It can mean many things. I love to go to movies. I love to do a bit of travelling. I love to go hiking. Maybe I'll train. There's more . . . I feel like I'm missing some stuff here.

"To be honest, in a situation like I'm in now, where I'm filming a movie, my free days are often just hanging out with friends," he admits. "I sometimes, when I'm not working, have this wish to go and do something crazy. It's like, 'Oh, I'm off today, let's go skydiving or bungee jumping or whitewater rafting.' But my best day off is when I just chill and take it easy."