GERARD BLEW US AWAY.. HE IS A GREAT PHANTOM; SCOT LANDS FILM ROLE

Category: Phantom of the Opera News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: May 26, 2003 | Publication: The Mirror | Author: CRAIG MCGILL
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HOLLYWOOD Scot Gerard Butler has beaten a host of stars to land the title role in a movie version of Phantom of the Opera.

Legendary hit-maker Joel Schumacher wants the 33-year-old to wear the famous mask when Andrew Lloyd-Webber's musical hits the big screen.

But with a role opposite gorgeous Tomb Raider star Angelina Jolie also looming - it's just the latest movie coup for the hottest new property in showbiz. That was underlined by the fact he pipped Spanish heartthrob Antonio Banderas to the role of the Phantom.

Schumacher said: "He's the greatest. He's like the Scottish Colin Farrell.

"He's just a regular guy, he says it like it is. And he's a fabulous singer. When he came in to audition he blew me and Andrew Lloyd-Webber away."

The director helped make Irishman Farrell a star by casting him in Tigerland - and he seems determined to do the same for Butler.

Schumacher said: "He's going to be a great Phantom - a young, sexy Phantom.

"And I know the Michael Crawford fans are going to be hysterical, but maybe they should stay home then."

Butler, who will co-star with 16-year-old starlet Emmy Rossum, starts filming in the UK in October.

However, it's all a far cry from Paisley's St Mirin's and St Margaret's school where he was head boy.

In fact, his acting career only started to burgeon while he was studying law at Glasgow University.

His big break then came when he was approached in a London coffee shop by actor and director Stephen Berkoff, who handed him a stage role in the play Coriolanus.

Since then, he has played a modern-day vampire in Dracula 2001, fought dragons in Reign of Fire and played junkie Renton in the stage version of Trainspotting.

Butler has also worked with a number of stars and top directors including Richard Donner, Jonny Lee Miller, Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey and Izabella Scorupco.

Stardom beckoned, however, when he made his US break-through as Attila the Hun in American mini- series Attila.

Now, the Glasgow-born actor is set to hit our cinema screens in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. He plays opposite Jolie as British ex-spy Terry Sheridan - and gets swept up in high-octane action.

Butler said: "I was jumping out of helicopters from 60 feet and dangling off the top of the 007 stage at London's Pinewood Studios in loads of scary machine-gun fire with glass smashing all around me.

"I particularly loved the fight sequences that they gave me, because they just make me out to be very, very tough."

"I think the best way to describe him would be as kind of like a Han Solo from Star Wars."

Tomb Raider 2 is set for a July release and Butler will also appear in time travel flick Timeline at the end of the year.

Copyright 2003 MGN Ltd.