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Q And A: Gerard Butler

Category: 300 News
Article Date: February 27, 2007 | Publication: The Temple News | Author: Jesse North

Posted by: DaisyMay

LOS ANGELES – Following in the visual vein of “Sin City,” graphic novelist Frank Miller’s latest adapted work to hit the big screen is “300,” a bloody tale based during the Persian-Greco War.

In it, a paltry 300 Spartans face off against more than a million Persian warriors to defend their citizens from slavery. Gerard Butler, who played the title role in the film adaptation of “The Phantom of the Opera,” keeps the cape for an extremely masculine and commanding role as the Spartan ruler, King Leonidas, who bravely leads the soldiers into battle.

Butler underwent a shocking physical transformation for the role, enduring training that bulked his physique to lion size, yet left him ailing once the production wrapped. The Scottish actor sat down with “The Temple News” and discussed his training for the role, as well as what it takes to become the fiercest
Spartan in the land.

the Temple News: How did you get your body in shape for this role?

Gerard Butler: I guess nobody told you that’s a body suit? (laughs) I went away to a place in Arizona to quit smoking, and started training – just doing my own thing. When I came back, I went to my own trainer. We were in the gym two hours a day. You know, pumping weights and running, training, rowing.

But then, they brought on the film trainer who trains undercover operatives, cage fighters and all that. He’s an intense guy, so he’s like, “Let’s get the kettle bells and run, and bang your head against the wall six times.” You were almost dead by the end of it. But I could tell almost immediately it wasn’t going to give me the body I was looking for because nobody else in this film had to wear a six-foot beard, which was like a lethal weapon in itself, and a helmet with a chicken on it.

So I knew that I had to have a body that matched my head. And I also wanted to feel like a f---king king, you know, to command 300 people. That’s, mentally, the state that I wanted to get to. And I did. In the middle of the film, maybe
I couldn’t have kicked a single person’s a--, but I felt like I could kick everybody’s a--. It was an intense experience.

While I was on set, I would pump before every shot. I would be filming and screaming, pumping, and the pain in my shoulders, forearms, and knees. The whole time, I was thinking, “It’s OK; this’ll be fine.”

But it wasn’t. When I finished filming, I was in bad shape for a long time.

TTN: You are always in a rage through the film, yet your character has depth. do you accomplish that?

GB: I think you choose your moments. You trust what can be shown in one glimpse. Even the raising of one eyebrow at a certain point can say so much about one person. If you do that, and then you play a scene, and then you become you again, it’s kind of a perfect balance because the fire and the intensity stays in you because it’s real. But at the same time, you can deal with an actual human story, which at the end of the day, this is.

TTN: What do you like about these Spartans?
GB: These guys are pretty much the toughest heroes you’ve ever come across. They don’t apologize to the audience; they don’t make excuses.

There is nothing like the commitment, the strength, and the loyalty we will show each other and appreciate what that means. The power of 300 people with a focused intention and purpose makes them 30,000 more. I’m talking in quantum physics now (laughs). That’s the challenge in a film like this. I wanted to show that these 300 men would follow this guy to their death, gladly.

And yet, he never has to say anything to them. You just believe when you look at this guy that he is the king of that nation, that he is wise, and that he would kick your a-- and everybody else’s if you bent him out of shape in any kind of way.

TTN: How did you keep your faith that everything would eventually look great on the movie screen?

GB: That’s a good question. I didn’t. There is an element about putting on these costumes and saying, “Haha, look at you!” or, “Shut up, look at you!” and going “I want a bigger
c--k piece than him!” We had to laugh at ourselves to get over all that. I remember the first time I tried on the c--k piece, I didn’t have my cape yet. So, literally, it was just my c--k piece and these flimsy sandals, walking through the studio
passing the canteen where all these French Canadian big guys were with tattoos on their a-- and the crack of their butts hanging out. And they’re like, “Watch what’s walking by. What the f--k is this?” And you’re going, “Aww, motherf--ker! This is a nightmare.”

TN: How do you feel about the finished product?
GB: I’m really happy, for a change, with what I did. But what [director Zack Snyder] did just blows me the hell away. I’m still shocked when I see it. I just think, “How the hell did he do that?” And not just the look of the film, but keeping it grounded and not making any of that stuff gratuitous and pulling it together and having a film with great pacing and great performances.

He really has made it work on every level and he’s done it seemingly without any effort.


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