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Glasgow kisser

Category: Interviews
Article Date: December 28, 2007 | Publication: Sydney Morning Herald | Author: Helen Barlow
Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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The scottish star of 300 has gone from buff action hero to romancing Hilary Swank. By Helen Barlow.

Gerard Butler has much in common with Daniel Craig. He achieved fame in his mid-30s and is also a well-built British actor who was a contender to play the new, younger James Bond.

Instead of sauntering out of the surf with his abs ablaze, however, Butler donned a pair of leather underpants and brought his imposing presence to King Leonidas, the famed Spartan warrior in the action blockbuster 300.

Now the Glasgow-born actor is going back to romance. In P.S. I Love You, set in New York, he is a lovable cad, Hilary Swank's recently deceased Irish husband, who comes back from the grave via a series of love letters.

In terms of potential suitors for his wife's affections, he has some pretty strong competition in the form of Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Denny in Grey's Anatomy) and Harry Connick jnr.

"I actually have been offered a lot of romantic roles since Phantom Of The Opera," says Butler, who smoldered behind a mask in Joel Schumacher's movie. "The question is, do you do it just because you can or do you wait for the right one? I didn't want to take something just because it was romantic. Eighty per cent of the romantic stories I read I think are vomit-worthy."

Initially Butler was attracted to this romantic comedy not only because he got to play opposite Swank, Kathy Bates (her mother) and Lisa Kudrow and Gina Gershon (her best friends) but because of the credentials of screenwriter Richard LaGravenese.

"Richard wrote and directed Freedom Writers [starring Swank]. Here he wrote this phenomenally hilarious and heartbreaking script adapted from a novel by Cecelia Ahern, the daughter of the Irish Prime Minister [Bertie Ahern], and I couldn't wait to do it."

Butler's big scene comes at the film's start, where, like Swank, we can fall for his charms as the couple has one of those arguments that people in love frequently indulge in. Their love is palpable. We carry the memory of that scene throughout the movie, as she does, and feel her grief when she returns to Ireland to visit his relatives and recalls their romantic first meeting.

"I feel that in my career, people have seen me over to the right and over to the left but haven't really seen me," Butler says. "I get to be far more like myself in P.┬┐S. than I ever have been."

It seems Butler is a lovable cad as well. A one-time "down and dirty singer" in a band called Speed, he had almost completed a law degree when he was spotted in a cafe by actor-playwright Steven Berkoff, who encouraged him to give acting a go.

With piercing green eyes and a slow-burning masculinity that allows him to come across as sexy on screen, Butler has been attracted to characters that often surprise us, so that it's difficult to tell if he is the good guy or the baddie. Certainly he charmed the socks off Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life before betraying her.

Butler put a huge effort into filming the action movie Beowulf & Grendel (2005). Following the┬ success of 300, he co-starred with Jodie Foster in the family-friendly Nim's Island, shot in Queensland. Ultimately, Butler doesn't mind missing out on playing 007.

"I've done a lot of action films so I don't find action roles as exciting as other guys do. The one thing I thought I had going for my career was variety, whereas Bond historically pins you down to a certain position.

"I was also more excited doing 300, something that had never been done before, rather than explaining the difference between me and the other six James Bonds, and then having 1000 photos taken with the watch and sunglasses. I'd probably be a lot richer but a lot more pissed off."

P.S. I Love You

Director Richard LaGravenese

Stars Gerard Butler, Hilary Swank Kathy Bates Rated M. Screening now.


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