Unmasking sexy Phantom
Category: Phantom of the Opera News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: December 5, 2004 | Publication: Sunday Mail (SA) | Author: LAWRIE MASTERSON
Andrew Lloyd Webber gambled on two unknowns for the film adaption of Phantom of the Opera, says LAWRIE MASTERSON
GERARD Butler and Emmy Rossum couldn't be more different.
He is a 35-year-old Scot, brought up mainly by his mother in her home town of Paisley. He fulfilled her dream and became a lawyer, but his youthful itch to act never went away.
She is just 18, a New Yorker who joined the children's chorus at the Metropolitan Opera at seven. Trained in stagecraft and classical vocal technique, she was also interested in acting and made her TV debut in daytime soap As the World Turns at 11.
Both travelled different routes to Hollywood, but come together in the classic love story of Phantom and Christine in Phantom of the Opera.
The big question, at first, was whether they could pull off the screen sizzle in roles so beloved they have been seen on stage by an estimated 80 million people.
"I trust that my chemistry with Emmy was very sexy," Butler said the day after seeing the movie a second time and "crying like a baby" at the end.
"I felt that chemistry, and when you feel that, you just go with it.
"I used so much passion and longing towards her, which wasn't difficult because she's beautiful and I enjoyed delving into that 'older-younger' thing because it was so dramatic."
He laughed, adding: "In some ways, it was a dream come true for a guy who ain't 22 any more."
Surprisingly, Rossum still has not seen a stage production of Phantom, which also stars Minnie Driver, who did much of her own signing.
"I came to her totally fresh and kind of developed my own interpretation from my imagination and my heart and from a lot of research I did," she said.
"Now I'm so close to the Christine I created that I'm not sure I could go see it (on stage). I'm sure I'll get curious in a few years and go, but not right now."
While Butler had started carving a profile in mainly physical roles such as Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life and Rossum had starred in hits including The Day After Tomorrow, both came to Phantom as relative unknowns.
Butler had not sung publicly since his law student days in a semi-professional rock group called Speed, which did Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton covers, as well as a smattering of original material.
Both faced the daunting task of winning personal approval from Andrew Lloyd Webber.
A month before Butler met the man behind Phantom in London, he arranged three or four sessions with a voice coach and approached the audition without fear. Then he had to sing Music of the Night.
"All the nerves I should have felt in the past month hit me at that moment," he said. "I suddenly realised the reality of my situation, which was that one of the greatest composers of all time was sitting in the room with me and I was singing one of the most famous songs of all time made famous by somebody who was not me.
"I felt like an imposter. My legs started shaking. The accompanist thought I was having a heart attack. Andrew was at the back of the room making a funny face and it was a bizarre experience."
Rossum first sang for Lloyd Webber at his New York apartment.
"He didn't say hello, didn't introduce himself, just sat down in front of me and said, 'Shall we?'. I did the two biggest numbers in the show and then he stood up and said, 'That was great. I'm Andrew'.
"It was very surreal for me because I was thinking 'Here's the godfather of musical theatre' and he was really pleased."
After Phantom, and its frequent five-hour make-up sessions to achieve a perfect balance between grotesque and sexy, Butler felt it was time for something completely different.
He moved on to The Game of their Lives, about the team which represented the US in soccer's 1950 World Cup. Of the 11 men who took the field wearing red, white and blue, five were Italian, two were Portuguese and the others were Haitian, German, Scottish and Irish.
"That's been amazing, too, to be playing these football games in a Brazilian stadium, down in Rio de Janeiro, with thousands of guys watching," he said.
"It was nerve-racking, because we thought we were s..t."
Rossum has returned to Columbia University, where she is taking art history. "I got an A, so Mum's happy," she said flashing a smile.
"I've actually been reading a lot of scripts and really been trying to choose the next thing that I do very carefully. I'm looking at a movie that's about drug addiction and rehabilitation and I'm also trying to develop a movie by myself.
"I'm not trying to direct it or produce it, just get it made. That's a challenge, but it's a story that really, really moves me and has meaning to me."
Phantom of the Opera opens on December 26.
Copyright 2004 Nationwide News Pty Limited