PHANTOM DAD; REAL-LIFE DRAMA - OPERA STAR GERARD IS MOVED TO TEARS BY HIS ROLE IN

Category: Dear Frankie News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 9, 2005 | Publication: Sunday Mail | Author: MICKEY MCMONAGLE
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PHANTOM of the Opera star Gerard Butler understands why his new film Dear Frankie has had audiences crying their eyes out.

He felt the same way when he first read the script.

Just like nine-year-old Frankie - played by Jack McElhone - Gerard grew up estranged from his father.

He said: 'I was moved from the second I started reading the script.

'What you see and how you feel watching the movie is exactly what I felt when I first read it.'

In the film - shot for just pounds 2.5million in Glasgow and Greenock - young mum Lizzie, played by Emily Mortimer, is on the run from her violent husband.

She wants to protect her deaf son Frankie from the truth so she invents a story that his dad is a crew member on a ship travelling the world and writes letters to the lad pretending that they are from his father.

Lizzie then has to hire a stranger (Butler) to impersonate him when the ship is due to dock nearby.

Gerard said: 'People have to realise how hard it must have been for her not to poison her son against his dad. It was important to me from that point of view.

'I didn't see my dad for many years and I didn't know who he was.

'There is a scene in the movie where the boy walks in and is told, 'This is your father'. When I read that I thought, 'This is uncanny'.

'That's what is so powerful about this movie. Whether you've been a son or a daughter or a father, or you imagine being a father, it hits you from every level. You really identify with the characters.

'In the film the mother gets herself into a situation where she kind of feels she's gone too far.

'My mother never went to such extremes but she very much protected us and didn't want to fill us with hate and venom.

'That's what's wonderful about the movie, everyone has a different opinion on it and that's what this film's about - people who try to do the best thing.'

Dear Frankie has already earned Butler a Best Actor gong at the Capri Film Festival and caused a sensation when it was shown at the Cannes festival, earning the cast a 10-minute standing ovation.

Gerard said: 'Everyone who got involved believed in it so much.

'We never expected anything to come of it but when we took it to Cannes and saw the reception it got... I've never seen that kind of reaction.

'We were told to turn and face the audience and about 70 per cent of them were crying, but they were happy.

'There's something warm and human about the film. You end up in floods of tears but you leave full of hope and love.'

It's all a far cry from speculation that he's to be the new James Bond - on which Butler refuses to be drawn.

Butler's career hit new heights when he starred opposite Minnie Driver, Miranda Richardson and teenage sensation Emmy Rossum in the pounds 30million Phantom of the Opera.

#Dear Frankie goes on nationwide release on January 14.

Copyright 2005 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail Ltd.