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DOUBLE TROUBLE; BOOZE AND LAW WAS JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE FOR GERARD

Category: The Jury News
Article Date: February 17, 2002 | Publication: Sunday Mercury | Author: Unknown
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HUNKY actor Gerard Butler didn't feel too out of place filming the gripping ITV series The Jury.

There was a lot he felt familiar with, from sitting in a court room to playing a reformed alcoholic - he gave up a promising career as a lawyer to take up acting, and he admits to having had a drink problem.

So it's not surprising that his performance as a juror in the six-part drama, which starts on Sunday, is so realistic.

Gerard is not exactly a household name, but he's big news in Hollywood. His British TV appearances are limited to Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married and A Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Rock Star, but his film career is really taking off. After playing Billy Connolly's brother in Mrs Brown, he landed the lead in the film Dracula 2001 alongside Jonny Lee Miller and Christopher Plummer. He's just made a $ 100 million dragon-slaying Disney epic called Reign of Fire with Matthew McConaughey. And next he's to start work on Timeline, by Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner and based on a Michael Crichton novel.

There's even been talk that he's to become the next James Bond. Gerard is coy when 007 is mentioned and says he hasn't been offered the job, but he certainly has the dark looks, bright green eyes, charming smile and lilting Scottish accent to carry off the role.

Yet a few years ago, 32-year-old Gerard's life was very different. He was doing a job he hated and drinking far too much for his own good.

He says: 'I studied law for five years at university, then trained for two at a firm in Edinburgh. That was the most miserable period of my life. I still sometimes dream I'm still a lawyer and wake up so depressed. It was so boring - being in court is not usually as interesting as The Jury makes out.

'My mum was very, very upset when I quit. She'd been so proud, telling everyone her son was going to be a lawyer.

'I used to drink a lot but I don't touch a drop now. It's not a part of my life any more. That's one of the reasons why The Jury grabbed me. I play juror Johnny Donne, who is fresh out of rehab and struggling with alcohol abuse. When I read the script, I thought it was so brilliantly perceived - it gave me the creeps and brought a lot of stuff back for me. It terrified me but I knew I had to play it, to confront my past.

'I spent a lot of time remembering what I went through and it felt as if I was living it again. It was tough and a misery, but I'm proud of how I dived into it. I didn't go into rehab - let's just say I had a problem and I dealt with it. It's been four years, three days and six hours since I last had a drink, not that I'm keeping count!'

The Jury tells the story of a shocking murder trial, seen through the eyes of the 12 jurors. They must decide if a 15-year-old Sikh boy is responsible for the brutal killing of a 15-year-old white classmate. The starry cast includes Michael Maloney, Jack Shepherd, Sylvia Sims, Peter Vaughan and Tim Healy.

Gerard, who lives in Los Angeles, says: 'It felt like a real trial, especially as we were the first TV crew to be allowed to film inside the Old Bailey. It was intense, and we felt as if we were on the jury. We'd sit around at the end of the day talking about whether he did it or not, as they didn't tell us until just before the verdict. I hope viewers will be as much in suspense as we were.'

Copyright 2002 Midland Independent Newspapers plc

 


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