I DUCKED OUT OF THE OSCARS TO READ A GOOD BOOK

Category: Interviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: March 7, 2005 | Publication: The Daily Record | Author: Cath Bennett
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For most top actors, the whirlwind social scene is a major plus point of the business - but not for Scot Gerard Butler, who just can't wait to get home and switch on the TV

AMID the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, it's rare to find a star who prefers solitude to a wild night on the tiles. But Scots heartthrob Gerard Butler is not your average celebrity. The Glasgow-born Phantom Of The Opera actor has revealed he dreads the hottest night on the showbiz scene - the Oscars - and this year made a quick exit to curl up with a good book.

The 34-year-old said: 'On Oscar night I went home early. Everyone else was partying and I just couldn't wait to get home, be on my own, switch on the telly and pick up a book.

'When I'm surrounded by a lot of people I often crave to get away and have a wee bit of silence and peace.'

Peace is something Gerard is finding increasingly hard to come by - as one of Hollywood's hottest properties he is in demand for a string of big roles.

Riding high on his leading role in Phantom, he's just finished filming Beowulf and Grendel and is preparing to start work on Burns - a drama about the life and work of the Scots poet.

But while smiling his way through the movie merry-go-round, Gerard admits he is not your typical happy-go-lucky celebrity.

He seems at ease as he sits on a sofa in a LA hotel, but warns appearances can be deceptive.

Drawing on a cigarette, he said: 'There's a lot of the tortured soul in me. When I was training to be a lawyer I'd say I was manically depressed, and scarily lonely and miserable, yet no one would have known.

'A large part of me is very sensitive and can live in darkness. I find it easy to access that.'

Gerard's rise to fame has been slow but steady. After studying to be a lawyer at Glasgow University he turned to the stage and a role in an adaptation of Trainspotting.

His film debut was as Billy Connolly's younger brother in Mrs Brown, and parts in Tomorrow Never Dies and Dracula followed.

After appearing in Reign Of Fire and Lara Croft Tomb Raider, he landed the plum role of the Phantom in the Andrew Lloyd Webber adaptation.

But despite his fame, the hunky actor still shies away from the movie social scene.

He said: 'It's fun to party in Hollywood, but I try not to do it too much. If you party more than two days here you start to go insane. It sucks the life out of you and I feel it erodes your spirituality and goodness.'

Perhaps in search for some stability amid the mayhem, Gerard has recently bought himself a swish penthouse flat in New York. But while loving Manhattan, Gerard still has reservations about the city.

He said: 'I haven't stayed there yet, and every time I think about it I just feel so tired because it's such a crazy city.

'But I always wanted to be a part of it. So if I have my own place which I love to be in, it'll be great to see that energy take place around me, rather than be swept away by it.'

With views looking on to the Empire State Building, the apartment has two floors and a huge roof terrace. In many ways it could be described as a family home - and Gerard is keen to have kids of his own in it. He said: 'I'm getting broody - I'm broody and brooding.

'I recently visited Indonesia and I was on the beach watching all these families. Indonesian babies are the most beautiful in the world and they're all so friendly. That made me think 'wouldn't it be great?' 'I have been caught up in the whirlwind of this business too much to give enough time to all that, but I'd love to have a family.'

Before starting a family, he has the small problem of finding a girlfriend - something he claims he is still too busy for.

He said: 'I just don't have a proper girlfriend. I'm too busy with work. I'm not too busy for girls, just too busy for commitment.'

In many ways, Gerard feels he's been forced to sacrifice personal happiness for career advancement. But he remains philosophical about the drawbacks of his showbiz life.

He said: 'Maybe you can't have it all, or maybe I don't know how to have everything.

'This is a hard business to be in, and you see that borne out with failed relationship after relationship where you thought, 'Well, this is the one that'll survive', and it doesn't.

'I love my work, but the downside is I have less constancy in my life and the more I don't have that, the more I miss it.'

Despite the negatives, the actor feels his character has grown through his years in the business. He said: 'Coming from Scotland, I think you get a lot more personality in people. That left me with a fun personality, although, like everyone, there's different sides to me.'

Gerard reveals he was a 'bit of a lad' in his late teens, which led to him becoming an alcoholic. He proudly announces he has not had a drink for eight years - and has not even been tempted by alcohol in the last six.But he admits he'd feel uneasy being with his old drinking pals.

He said: 'I don't hang out with the old crowd. If I went out with my old drinking friends I'd feel uncomfortable. Not because I'd want to drink, but because I'd feel uncomfortable being with people who are smashed out of their faces.

'It brings back so many awful memories.' Looking to the future, Gerard can't wait to get his teeth into his ultimate role of Robert Burns. The film is in pre-production, awaiting finance, but he is poised to start filming. He said: 'There's no film I'd rather do right now. I've been involved with it for too many years, reading and studying him.'

There are similarities between the deep thinking actor and Scotland's greatest poet.

Gerard said: 'I feel in some ways we have a lot in common. He was filled with personality and talent and passion, and yet he was a flawed man.He couldn't help himself when it came to the women and the drink, but at the end of the day he had such a great heart.

'I can identify with him, so I hope we do it, and of course we'll film in Scotland.'