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Gerard Butler: Ready to RocknRolla

Category: RockNRolla News
Article Date: September 4, 2008 | Publication: National Post | Author: Bob Thompson
Source: National Post

Posted by: admin

All Gerard Butler wanted to know was the time and the place when Guy Ritchie asked the Glaswegian actor to sign up for his Cockney caper picture RocknRolla.

Certainly, Butler was willing to take part in a no-frills filming experience, if only for the thrill of working with the writer-director. And he understood that the love of his craft would have to come before his elevated payday status as the headliner of 300.

"It's never been my thing to jump on the back of something," said Butler yesterday at Toronto's Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Besides, he couldn't resist the allure of Ritchie's "Cockney mockney" film style.

The crime thriller was showcased as a Toronto International Film Festival Special Presentation last night, but there was no Madonna in the movie or at the red carpet. Ritchie's wife was in Amsterdam performing. But Butler was there having fun before the screening, as well as in the film itself.

He plays One-Two, a low-life lad messed up in a shady London real estate deal between Russian mobsters and an old-school mob boss.

In the spoofy tradition of Ritchie's rollicking Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the droll Snatched, the bad guys in RocknRolla aren't very good at getting things right. "We aren't as switched on as we should be," said Butler. But they are unrelentingly violent and "ludicrously incompetent" about trying to get what they think they deserve.

Along with Butler's street thug trying to make it rich quick, RocknRolla features a deviously crooked accountant (Thandie Newton), a drug-addled psycho rocker and killer (Toby Kebbell), a gangster kingpin (Tom Wilkinson) and two American music managers (Jeremy Piven and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) not quite sure what they've become involved in.

For Butler, the film was a change of pace. After the swords-and-sandals mega-hit 300, Butler, 48, first went the light-and-bright route with P.S. I Love You and Nim's Island. But for RocknRolla - which is set to open theatrically in Toronto Oct. 3, followed by a wider North American release later that month - the actor returns to his tough side, even if he does get to "cuddle" with one of his RocknRolla co-stars who comes out of the closet during the action.

He also gets to dance with Newton in one sequence, which Butler agreed shows how lousy he is at doing any sort of movements, modern or otherwise. Ritchie said the scene was not paying tribute to the Pulp Fiction moment between Uma Thurman and John Travolta, but more because "most guys I know can't dance." Despite his shortcommings in the dancing department, Butler admitted "it may be one of my favourite scenes in the film, it's so bizarre."

For complete festival coverage, visit our TIFF site , our Arts & Life blog, The Ampersand and our TIFF Twitter feed.

Whether the movie, in general, is too bizarre for audiences is anybody's guess. As it is, both Ritchie and Butler said they were happy with the final product. Ritchie's last caper flick, Revolver, misfired miserably both at the Toronto festival and in general release three years ago. But RocknRolla returns the director to his tongue-in-cheek, London-gangster ways, minus his usual leading man, Jason Statham. For his part, Butler said he has no problems with being Statham's replacement. Ritchie confirmed that if filmgoers like RocknRolla, he's ready with a sequel, which is clearly suggested at the climax of the movie.

And would Butler return for another go? Probably. He was thrilled to be able to speak in his Glaswegian brogue in the movie, something Ritchie insisted he do. He also enjoyed showing off his crazier side, which drew on Butler's background as a true rock 'n' roller. Before he became a lawyer and then an actor, he was the front man in a Glasgow rock group called Speed. And how wild was he? "I got thrown out of two of my own gigs," he said smiling.

Meanwhile, Ritchie will begin shooting Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. as the title character, next month. His anticipated action film, Game, has been moved to next year, but whether he will do a prequel to 300 is anybody's guess, including Bulter's.

"I heard some backroom chatter," he said of the 300 prequel, "but not much more than that."


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