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Gerard Butler: Star is Born in 300

Category: 300 News
Article Date: February 17, 2007 | Publication: | Author: Emmanuel Levy, critic

Posted by: DaisyMay

"Gerard Butler has qualities that made him perfect for the role of the feared and revered Spartan king. His charisma as a person and leadership qualities set a tone of camaraderie among the actors. He brought this team of Spartan actors together”--Producer Jeffrey Silver

It's a measure of Gerard Butler's handsome looks, charismatic screen persona, and considerable acting chops, that he excels in Zack Snyder's "300," an historical recreation of the noted Spartan battle in which Butler plays King Leonidas. Inspired by the graphic novel of Frank Miller, the nearly surreal--and hype real---movie is action-oriented and driven by visual, sound, and other special effects. Yet Butler gives a commanding performance in what's the central role of the movie, thus increasing viewers' emotional engagement in the story.

How Butler Got the Role

Butler became aware of the project during a meeting with Warner Bros. executives. “They said the word ‘300,’ and I knew that there was something fresh and different about it,” he recalls, adding, “When I met with director Zack Snyder, I knew this is a guy who understands the things you can’t explain about this story and what it would require. I could write six volumes about him and his talent, his intelligence, his passion, and his goodness as a person.”

Producer Jeffrey Silver notes that Butler had qualities that made him perfect for the role of the feared and revered Spartan king: “Gerard's charisma as a person and leadership qualities set a tone of camaraderie among the actors. He brought this team of Spartan actors together.”

Butler, who stars as King Leonidas, says: “It’s almost like somebody who was there and witnessed the battle went to sleep and dreamed the whole thing again because a lot of it is very representational…a lot of it exists in the imagination, so it allows us to take it so much further. It’s an incredible story, which has been an inspiration to so many people throughout history, but it’s not a documentary. It is a fantastic story full of passion and politics and brutality and so many more things, existing in this hyper-real, beautiful, emotional world.”

Butler relished the opportunity to dive into research on this formidable culture. “Spartans are shown nothing but pain their whole lives to teach them endurance, to teach them fearlessness and to teach them to have no mercy against their opponents,” he says. “Everything about it requires a steeliness and a strength of character, from the way the men are trained to the way the women must surrender their children in the name of warfare.”

Gerard Butler's Impressive Career

Over the past decade, Butler has distinguished himself as a leading man on the stage and screen in both the United States and Great Britain. But it may his role in "300" that would make him a Hollywood star—and leading actor in the action-adventures, genres that have not been able to replace the previously dominant actors—Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, all aging—with a new and vibrant cohort of action stars. That may all change with actors of Butler's caliber and charisma.

In 2004, Butler won the coveted title role in the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.” Butler was excellent in Schumacher's version of the stage musical, but the movie failed (it was more popular abroad than stateside) and thus didn't do much for Butler's career.

Butler next stars in the dramatic thriller “Butterfly on a Wheel,” about a kidnapping that destroys a once-happy family. Due out in late summer 2007, the film also stars Pierce Brosnan and Maria Bello under the direction of Mike Barker.

Butler recently wrapped production on the romantic drama “P.S. I Love You,” directed by Richard LaGravenese and starring two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank ("Million Dollar Baby") as a young widow whose late husband left behind a series of letters to help her cope with his loss and get on with her life.

He also earned critical acclaim for his work opposite Emily Mortimer in the independent feature “Dear Frankie,” which screened at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Butler’s other recent film credits include “Beowulf & Grendel,” “The Game of Their Lives,” “Timeline,” “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” and “Reign of Fire.”

Butler is a child actor prodigy. Born in Scotland, Butler made his stage debut at the age of 12 in the musical “Oliver,” at Glasgow’s famous Kings Theatre. As a young man, his dreams of acting were deterred and he went on to study law for seven years before returning to the stage in London.

In 1996, he landed the lead role in the acclaimed stage production of “Trainspotting.” He later starred on the London stage in such plays as “Snatch” and the Donmar Warehouse production of Tennessee Williams’ “Suddenly Last Summer,” opposite Rachel Weisz.

In 1997, Butler made his feature film debut in John Madden’s award-winning drama “Mrs. Brown,” starring Judi Dench in her first Oscar-nominated role.

His early film work also includes “Fast Food,” “One More Kiss,” the 1999 screen adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” and “Harrison’s Flowers.”


* Gerard Butler: Star Is Born in 300


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