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Category: Interviews
Article Date: July 1, 2002 | Publication: Interview Magazine | Author: Susan Johnston

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An actor with a bright future, Gerard Butler is passionate about the past. Not necessarily his rambunctious own, but instead, the fantastical legends and lore of his Scottish homeland. His brogue peppered with expletives, his wry smile fill of mischief and charm, the 32-year-old former lawyer is equipped with a hyperactive imagination, which surely served him well in recent years as he played two of history's most villainous men - the title roles in both Dracula 2000 and the TV miniseries Attila.

This month's action-packed Reign of Fire propels Butler out of his beloved past and into a future dominated by fire-breathing dragons. It also gives the actor a much-desired chance to play the comedic sidekick, alongside heartthrobs Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey. Though his time offscreen is split between two London apartments and another in Los Angeles, Butler's heart remains forever loyal to Scotland and its history; ironic for an actor whose moment is soon to be upon us.
Gerard Butler wears a suit
and shirt by BOSS HUGO BOSS

SUSAN JOHNSTON: So you feel you're a man out of time?

GERARD BUTLER: I think I'm a man out of place. I love Scotland. You can stand amidst those mountains and feel the history. It emanates all around you. When I'm there, I fantasize about the Celts coming over from Europe in bearskins. And the simplicity and purity of society back then - it wasn't as complicated or discolored as it is now. I imagine roaming those hills, fighting those battles...

SJ: So you'd like to go back to that world?

GB: Maybe - until I got there, when I'd think, This is boring! [laughs] Maybe it's just my blood. Funnily enough, the future doesn't interest me.

SJ: Your new film Reign of Fire, is set in the future. Surely that's of interest.

GB: [laughs] It is, but it's a postapocalyptic future full of dragons where everything has burned to the groun. We live in a castle up in the mountains and we don't have any modern utilities.

SJ: You speak as if you are in that world right now, not as if you're telling me about a movie you were in.

GB: It's funny: I do do that. Sometimes I get embarrassed and stop myself when I realize that not everybody's on the same wavelength as I am - especially when you're talking about a dragon movie.

SJ: You seem like a person of extremes.

GB: [sighs] It's probably just one huge personality defect. I've always been somebody who has a love/hate relationship with myself. When I was working in one of the top law firms [in Scotland] - we handled the Queen's estate in Scotland and Andrew Carnegie's; I wonder if I'm allowed to say that? It's probably confidential, but fuck it, we're in America - I used to bang my head against the wall saying, "God! Why did you do that?" But I wouldn't be an actor now if I hadn't been such an awful lawyer then. [laughs]

SJ: So you're less hard on yourself now?

GB: I've given up abusing myself, and it's amazing how that choice wipes misery out of life. It still takes a couple of years for the detritus to clear away, but - what was the question?

SJ: You answered it.

GB: But I had more to say.

SJ: You're less hard on yourself now that you're an actor...

GB: Yes. Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I have this communion with my soul. It's amazing and horrible, because you're seeing yourself. It's happened probably 10 times in my life. It's the most bizarre experience, one that you can never have deliberately, and it happens to me while ating sometimes. Or when I'm up in the Hollywood hills, looking out over L.A. It's a different world from when I was in Scotland going to movie theaters, wishing I could do that. There was pain then, because I knew that [becoming an actor] wasn't going to happen. But those wishes have come true. It's pretty fantastic.

SJ: What was the impetus behind your decision to go for it and become an actor?

GB: [long pause] One thing that concerns me is that my life is too much about myself. I was passing a graveyard the other day and I thought, What are you when you die? A few generations later, when you're not even a memory of any living person, you're nothing. Maybe that's why I make movies. For longevity.

Susan Johnston was recently awarded the Playwrights' Center Jermone Fellowship for Emerging Playwrights.

Styling: AVENA GALLAGHER. Grooming: KEIKO HIRAMOTO for Awake Cosmetics/Arthouse. Photo Assistant: LEIGH ANN LAUTH.

2002 Interview Magazine


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