Butler on the Brink

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Article Date: November 28, 2003 | Publication: Daily Post (Liverpool) | Author: Daily Post (Liverpool)
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HE'S just landed one of the most sought after roles in screen history, yet Scottish actor Gerard Butler is still virtually unrecognised in Britain. "I always say I've never been more successful and less recognised,"he says with a self-deprecating laugh.

"It's true I can walk down most streets in this country and people haven't got a clue who I am." Butler,however,had better make the most of his anonymity because that's about to change for good. The Glasgow-born star has beaten off fierce competition to land the lead role in the eagerly awaited screen version of Phantom of the Opera. It's bound to make Butler a household name. But the down-to-earth actor is taking the prospect of impending international stardom firmly in his stride.

"It's not something that's keeping me awake at night,"he explains,"because I'm not really thinking about that side of things".

You can bet plenty of those watching closely will be female,but the star, who is currently single,laughs nervously at the suggestion that he's a sex symbol.

"The only people that tell me that are journalists,"he laughs.

Butler's acting break is worthy of a film script itself. A chance meeting with esteemed actor and director Stephen Berkoff in a cafe changed his life.

"He asked me if I was an actor. I told him I wasn't,but I wanted to be,and the next thing I know he'd offered me a role in his production of Coriolanus," recalls Butler.

Since that fortuitous meeting, the talented star has worked steadily in theatre and made his big screen debut in 1997 playing Billy Connolly's younger brother in the Oscar-winning movie Mrs Brown.

He's just been reunited with his Mrs Brown cos tar and fellow Scot,Billy Connolly,for his latest film Timeline. The pair appear together in the big screen adaptation of Michael Crighton's bestselling novel and Butler says he'd forgotten just what a blast the veteran comic is.

"He is such a great guy. I could sit and listen to him all day; it's like getting a free stand up gig,"he laughs.

And though he might be experiencing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood,it's clear his Scottish homeland is very much where the heart is.

"I get back as often as I can,"he says.

"I have family and friends there and they keep me down to earth. I enjoy LA and am thrilled that I'm getting the work out there,but it's great to come back to people who really know you."

Copyright 2003 The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Ltd