For Butler, it's all part of the game

Category: Interviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: August 30, 2009 | Publication: Chicago Sun-Times | Author: CINDY PEARLMAN
Publication/Article Link:Chicago Sun Times

He doesn't have his movie star game on. Sex symbol Gerard Butler is hiding out on a hotel roof in Los Angeles when he's spotted and asked to leave the premises.

Is this any way to treat someone who has ascended to the top of the the A-list in Hollywood? The star of the new "Gamer" (out Friday) isn't being treated like a star. Try a trespasser.

The construction workers on the roof don't really care about the guy on the cell phone trying to conduct an interview in private and elude the paparazzi who dream of finding him with Jennifer Aniston. In fact, the welders don't even know it's Butler. They think he's just some guy trying to infiltrate their turf -- or jump.

"Hang on. They are actually kicking me off the roof," Butler says in an amused voice. Suggest that he try the movie-star thing by whipping off the sunglasses and the required baseball cap.

"I could have whipped off the glasses and said, 'Look. See the face,'" he growls. "'Let me stay. I was in "300"!'"

Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda.

His voice mellows. "Of course, I can't ever do that because I just can't get into the Hollywood thing. I'm a regular guy from Scotland. I'm a good little boy."

Now hiding out in the hotel lounge, the regular guy who turns 40 this Nov. 13 says, "I'm still not very good at playing the movie-star attitude. It's just not my thing. I don't even get my buddies into clubs. ... I could tell you a story about it ... but I'd better not."

He will talk about the rumors that he's dating Jennifer Aniston, co-star of "The Bounty," the movie he's now shooting.

"I don't even know what's going on with these tales," he says with a sigh. "My friends call me and say, 'You're on TV for dating someone and in the papers.' I never see the TV. I never read the articles.

"The headlines are ridiculous," he insists. "And now I have the paparazzi following me 24-7. Savvy fans will notice I've essentially worn the same outfit in all my photos with Jen. They're photos taken while we have been filming the movie. The paparazzi has come back again and again to take the same photo of us in the car."

Butler has other issues with the photographers.

"In my private life, the paparazzi love to take photos of me with food falling out of my mouth," he gripes. "Or even better, on the set. Once I hugged Jennifer and said, 'Great scene.' It made national news."

The other day, he was sitting by himself at an L.A. sidewalk cafe.

"The paparazzi shot me for an hour eating my lunch. The photogs would keep their cameras down and then bring them up every time I would bring a forkful of salad into my mouth. Up and down. Up and down. Camera and fork. Fork and camera.

"It got to the point where I stopped eating because I thought, 'No, I won't give these bastards the satisfaction.' But when someone would walk by my table and block me, I'd cram in five mouthfuls of salad. The photog would miss the shot and mouth, 'Bastard.'"

In "Gamer," he's not easily messed with, either.

He plays Kable in the story set in a future world where humans control other humans in large masses in an online multiplayer gaming world.

"It's a tough-guy role he was born to play," says model turned actress Amber Valetta, his "Gamer" co-star. "It's the action stuff that Gerry did so well in '300,' but he's also so appealing as a guy you want on your side in a crisis."

Butler adds, "I'm amazed no one was killed making this movie because it felt very dangerous, but you see that onscreen."

Yes, Butler put his now famed self on the line.

"I was hit by flying debris. I fell down stairs," he says. "One day, I fell through a car, connected some flesh with jagged metal for real and scraped up my entire back."

Butler compares his growing list of injuries to those of an athlete.

"Honestly, I'm like a football player at this point," he says. "By the time I do hit 40, I will point out all my scars and say to friends, 'This is the one from 'Gamer.'... This is from '300.' ... For 'Reign of Fire,' I did a fire scene and coated my body with gel. I got second-degree burns on the back of my neck."

Butler stars in the fall drama "Law Abiding Citizen" with Jamie Foxx and Oscar nominee Viola Davis.

"I had a scene where these flames crawl up a wall behind me. That was my scariest movie moment," he admits. "I thought I was on fire and it felt like my entire body could burst into flames."

Butler is also a producer on the film.

"I was heavily involved in the script writing," he says. "I expected it to be a piece of s--- and it turned out amazing."

"Law Abiding Citizen" is about an everyman who takes justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets the killers of his family free. He wants to knock off the district attorney who gave the killers their deal.

"It's a real crowd pleaser, so scary and tense and just unexpected and surprising," Butler says.

He does love that Hollywood surprises him.

For example, there were those bad reviews for his summer romantic comedy "The Ugly Truth." They were followed by solid box-office receipts.

"I don't think the reviewers were too happy with it, but the audience certainly loved it," he says. "I was getting calls from my agent saying that the theaters were packed. Then I read these horrible reviews and said, 'How did that happen?'"

Chalk up another charmed career twist for the native of Scotland who became famous playing King Leonidas in the 2006 hit "300." Butler has also starred in "P.S. I Love You" (2007), "Nim's Island" (2008) and "RocknRolla" (2008).

"Gamer," "Law Abiding Citizen" and "The Bounty" might make him a bigger star, but Butler could use a little less attention. Right now, three girls are tracking him in the hotel lounge.

"The girls are trying to be cool about it," he whispers into the phone. "But they're listening to every word I say and keep following me each time I get up. Now, they're looking up and smiling. In unison."

At least, it's a little recognition, but it won't change his life even if the paparazzi have him linked to these girls by dusk.

"I know who I am, and now that I've come into my own that won't change," he says. "I would just like to get through an entire salad unnoticed."

Perhaps he should go back on the roof.

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