Quint's full chat with Gerard Butler about producing, Darabont and anti-heroes!
Category: Interviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: November 3, 2009 | Publication: Ain't It Cool News | Author: Quint
Publication/Article Link:Ain't It Cool News
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I’m seeing a slight shift in publicity, a shift I hope continues. I hate that everything has become about the opening weekend. All publicity is geared towards maximum exposure in the week leading up to the release of a movie.
But I’m starting to see the desire to push for the second and third weekends now. Paramount offered up JJ Abrams for the second weekend of STAR TREK and now we have Gerard Butler for LAW ABIDING CITIZEN.
This interview was schedule about two weeks before release and I thought it odd then, but I’m happy to do these interviews post release because it usually gives the interviewee free rein to talk about the film without worrying about spoilers or saying too much.
So here it is, my phone chat with Gerard Butler post-release of his flick LAW ABIDING CITIZEN and post-SNL hosting. Enjoy it!
Gerard Butler: Hey Eric, how are you?
Quint: I’m doing well. How are you doing this morning?
Gerard Butler: I am OK!
Quint: I saw the SNL appearance and I wanted to congratulate you on it, because that was one of the funniest SNL’s I have seen in a long time.
Gerard Butler: Thank you. I had so much fun doing that.
Quint: Do you enjoy doing the live comedy? I would imagine you don’t get a chance to do that very much.
Gerard Butler: Exactly! Aye. It was a real breath of fresh air for me. I love what I do, I love making movies, but when you are making a lot of movies you can even get into a rut with that, so suddenly to be thrown eight different characters and just have a couple of days to rehearse them and then to be jumping on live to television and to a studio audience, there’s nothing like that for bringing you into the present. The second I finished, I thought “I want to do that all over again!”
Quint: Nice. What I liked the most was your opening underlining the extremes you’ve played… from Leonidas in 300 to The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. In LAW ABIDING CITIZEN you get to play an anti-hero, which I can only imagine would be incredibly fun for you as an actor to play that kind of character.
Gerard Butler: Yeah, definitely!
Quint: It’s somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, yeah.
Gerard Butler: For me it was still extreme, just in another direction, which is why I actually changed roles. Initially I was playing the prosecutor, Jaime [Fox]’s role. While I was developing the script I always had that in mind and then I started thinking, “You know what? That’s not really a role, the Clyde Shelton role or the anti-hero as you call it, that’s not really a role that I’ve had to climb into in anyway like this before.”
I started to get more and more seduced by that idea to play a guy like that who had been wronged so badly, but at the same time hit back and therefore was full of vengeance, but genius and pain. There were just so many things going on with him, so he’s not your typical aggressor antihero. I thought there was a lot of fun and interesting stuff to meditate on in that role.
Quint: He’s not reactionary. He is very deliberate and he takes his time. It’s not like he’s just broken and goes crazy. I find that people love that kind of character though; it’s almost like… even though this is a lot more reactionary, but it’s almost like Michael Douglas in FALLING DOWN. Those kinds of people really play to an audience and I was wondering why you think that is. Why are those guys such audience favorites?
Gerard Butler: I think that they definitely touch something within each of us where we would like to be given the opportunity or feel like we would be brave enough to take action where we would feel that we would be vindicated when we had been treated unjustly. I think whether it’s within the family or at work or in terms of our country, I think people are frustrated and we want to be able to head out and stand up for themselves and fight back in some way, but of course 99% of the time we can’t, so when you watch a character like this who stands up and says “No, I’m not taking this anymore. I’m going to show you for a change and I’m going to make you responsible and you accountable and I’m going to make you see what you have done to me and others.” There’s something very appealing about that. It’s amazing the amount of satisfaction you get out of watching that kind of story or that kind of character.
I even felt in a way that it was similar to 300 and maybe even TAKEN, but in 300 one of the reasons I think the movie was so popular was they didn’t perform like your typical heroes, they said “We will do whatever it takes, no matter how immoral some people might judge us in the way we fight back.” I actually felt the Spartans were like terrorists in a way, but you loved the fact that there were no holds barred and them doing what they had to do.
Quint: I can definitely see that similarity between the two characters, but was it difficult for you as an actor to hold the audience’s sympathy? At what point do you think that there’s a line that’s crossed with the character? By the end of the movie, I got the impression that the filmmakers wanted us to feel like he was going too far and if that was the case then how was it for you to balance that as an actor and keep the audience that’s been with you for an hour and a half?
Gerard Butler: That was definitely a big part of our discussion, at what point did we feel the audience should stop backing my characters and say “Enough is enough, you have gone too far and now you have to be defeated.” We always knew as well that no matter what we thought, people might have different views. In my head, there is a point where I have simply gone too far and it’s time, I have become the villain, but I have noticed with speaking to a lot of people who have seen the movie that they often have different ideas of when that happens.
I am amazed when I watch this movie with an audience just how much and for how long they back the antics and the terror tactics of my character. It starts involving who most sane people would judge as innocence kind of macabre killings and the audience was still behind me. Even though I play the character and I have a lot of sympathy for him, at times I was disturbed at the measure of congratulations that Clyde Shelton seemed to be getting for killing innocent people.
Quint: You have the audience’s sympathy man, I don’t know, but maybe because I’m a fan of the revenge genre myself, by the end of the movie I was still with you. Maybe I’m a bit more anarchist than I thought I was.
Gerard Butler: I think also what it is… This movie treads a fine line between actually getting you involved emotionally and introducing you to this story that just literally kicks you in the balls and slams you in the stomach and you go “Woah” and you feel very strongly for Clyde Shelton and what he has gone through. At the same time, when he comes back with his plan and his own story, you kind of… There’s a point where you can suspend your disbelief. You get caught up in it as a film as well and you get to enjoy it and you are not always necessarily given a pure moral judgment and what’s going on, you are also thinking “Wow that was a kickass moment” or “How did he do that?” I feel with this movie you can enjoy it in a couple of ways, one as a film, but then as a story that you react to emotionally.
Quint: I think a lot of the reason why I was still on your character’s side by the end of the movie was because I think you really knocked it out of the park at the beginning and I know that that sounds super kiss-ass telling you this on the phone, but the scene that you have with Jaime when he’s explaining to you that legally this is the best thing that they can get for you, I think everybody has been at that spot where they just felt completely helpless, like “wait a minute, this isn’t how things are supposed to work.”
Gerard Butler: Thank you.
Quint: I think that’s a big reason whey I was with you until the end. I noticed you were credited as producer on this as well, is this something that you are looking into? Do you think that you would like to produce more?
Gerard Butler: Yeah, definitely. We have a bunch of projects that we are developing at the moment; this was the first one that came to be. I think it was also the first one that we started developing and we always felt that this would probably be the first to go, because it had the most commercial flavor in it. It was just a movie that we knew we would have great fun working on in bringing to the screen, but I have got to say I was still very surprised when it actually happened. I thought “Wait a minute,” because two years before we started filming we had this script and it needed a lot of work and it went from there, so going out to finance companies and joining up with them and finding cast and crew and director and working constantly developing this script like a bitch. It was always work and it was a bumpy ride, but suddenly we have this movie and we were having test screenings and screenings and premieres and now it’s out and you go “Wow, we did that.”
Quint: The rides over, almost. You are still talking about it, which is good and I think it’s good that you are still beating the drum for this, just because the business seems to be so first weekend oriented and I think it’s really smart to actually be still pushing it for the second and third weekends.
Gerard Butler: Yeah, this is rare. I’ve got to say I did think I was done with it and then this came up last weekend, of course I said to my guys, “You know me, there’s no way I’m not going to do this, I just wish you hadn’t brought it up in the first place.” (laughs) But it’s good, especially for a movie like this, because I don’t think this movie was going to live or die by it’s first weekend, it’s a great film, audiences really enjoy it, and I think it’s going to have legs. It always felt that if there was a movie you could do press for after the first weekend, it would be this one.
Quint: I thought that F. Gary Gray did a really fantastic job. Visually, it looks amazing. It’s got a great pace to it, but I’m very curious as to how different of a movie it would have been if Frank [Darabont] had stayed on board. Was anything radically different when you were developing the movie with Frank Darabont?
Gerard Butler: Well with Frank, we never really got to the stage of shooting the movie. It was really just developing the script itself and I think we would have had a… I mean, it’s hard to say, because I didn’t really see what Frank’s vision when it came to shooting it, but I think that with Gary what we got was a much grittier, more noir, hard-edged smack in the face. I think with Frank, we might have had something, dare I say it, a little smoother, probably a little more mainstream, whereas I felt our movie really kind of took a stance that was coming a little more left… Felt a little more…
Quint: So, what are you working on now? What’s your next big thing?
Gerard Butler I just finished a romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston, which is called THE BOUNTY and Andy Tennant directed it. I play an ex-cop turn bounty hunter who is sent out to arrest Jennifer Aniston, who it turns out is my ex-wife, so I’m very happy about that. (laughs) I want to take her to prison! It’s me trying to get her ass back to prison. It’s really MIDNIGHT RUN meets WAR OF THE ROSES.
Gerard Butler: I’m doing a huge DreamWorks movie right now, called HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.
Quint: It’s animated, yeah?
Gerard Butler: Exactly. There are also a couple of things that we are developing and it seems like I might be doing CORIALANUS, a Shakespeare play, but the movie version, the adaptation of and Ralph Fiennes would be directing and playing Corialanus. I would be playing Tullus Aufidius, his nemesis. I’m just trying to keep it different, you know?
Quint: I think that’s the mark of a successful career, being able to change up. You look at all of your favorite actors, they have always jumped from genre to genre and character to character. Thanks, man. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.
Gerard Butler: No problem.
Quint: All right. You have a good day.
Gerard Butler: You too. Bye.
Not a bad little chat. Hope you guys enjoyed this post-release interview. I’m hoping to see more of these types of chats… hopefully a little longer and more in-depth, but you get the idea.