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Gerard Butler breaks the mold

Category: Interviews
Article Date: July 23, 2009 | Publication: Pasadena Star News | Author: Bob Strauss

Posted by: maryp

Gerard Butler set a new standard for belligerent bluster as "300's" Spartan king.

He has also been the ancient hero Beowulf in an Icelandic feature and Attila the Hun in a TV movie.

In his new comedy "The Ugly Truth," the Scottish actor plays Mike Chadway, a TV love advice guru who tells women that men are only interested in one thing, and that they'd better accept it and play along if they ever want to keep a boyfriend.

Don't get the impression, though, that he's some kind of claymore-swinging Neanderthal.

"Mike has an element of machismo in him," Butler acknowledges. "But he's also very self-deprecating and he's actually quite an intelligent, smart guy. I don't think he completely believes in all of those insights that he expounds.

"So I never saw him like a Neanderthal. And the other thing is, there are different movies that I've done. I have many concerns in my life, but I don't think being thought of that way is one of them."

Indeed, the 39-year-old Butler has shown his sensitive side in such weepies as "P.S. I Love You" and "Dear Frankie." He was even that epitome of tortured romanticism in the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera."

And he cautions manly men against accompanying him to chick flicks.

"If you ever sit and watch a movie with me that has any kind of emotion in it, you'll see the tissue box come out," Butler confesses. "I can really get into the masculine thing, my default is definitely a guy's guy. But there are a lot of other parts to me, too."

Of course, that's the premise behind "The Ugly Truth," a potty-mouthed battle-of-the-sexes comedy in which his blunt and carnal character clashes with his proper and controlling producer, Katherine Heigl's Abby Richter, whose fruitless search for her perfect man gets further fouled up by Mike's advice. He has his lovable traits, if you can stand hanging out with him long enough to discover them.

Butler warns
Gerard Butler finds his inner — and outer — gladiator in "300."
lonely hearts not to look to the movie for dating tips, though.

"I think it's funny when an actor plays a role, and suddenly everybody asks, `What's your secret to a happy relationship?' " he says. "I want to go, `I don't f-ing know!' I'm not Dr. Gerry. I have no idea."

You'll forgive people for thinking he has some secret, however; just check out the impressive gallery of supermodels, hot actresses and beauty contest winners on Butler's page.

But the never-married bachelor says you shouldn't believe everything you see.

"Let's just say I've been dating," he shrugs. "I'm pretty good at keeping that silent. Y'know, my last two girlfriends - one was two years, one was a year-and-a-half - nobody at the tabloids ever found out that I was dating them. Yet, at the same time, according to the press, there were five other relationships - or 100 other relationships! - that I was having which were completely fictitious."

Butler readily admits that he's quite pleased with how his life has panned out. Born in Glasgow, he spent some of his childhood in Canada before his parents divorced and his mother resettled them in her Lowlands hometown of Paisley.

Though he'd enjoyed stage acting as a boy, Butler diligently applied himself at Glasgow University's law school - which, as it turned out, was probably the biggest mistake he ever made.

"I spent seven years in law, studied it for five years in school then trained as a lawyer for two years," he recalls. "I was very unhappy doing it and found fresher pastures, basically, by moving to London to get into acting."

Best move he ever made. Now Butler has a slew of film projects awaiting release: September's sci-fi thriller "Gamer," about a future dystopia where videogames control real people; the DreamWorks Animation feature "How to Train Your Dragon," for which he and homeladdie pal Craig Ferguson provide the voices of Vikings; "The Bounty," an action comedy with Jennifer Aniston; and the courtroom thriller "Law Abiding Citizen," which Butler co-produced.

"Now, I feel like I'm sitting pretty," he says. "I'm loving the work and loving keeping up with it all. It's good times at the moment; I sometimes complain, but then I'm reminded by people that I could be mopping up toilets somewhere or, which is even worse for me personally, be back as a lawyer in Scotland!"

That gripe was about the profession, not the place. Now based in L.A. and New York, Butler still loves Scotland and misses it terribly; no aspersions to Celtic pride were intended.

And ladies, please remember he's only acting in "The Ugly Truth." Even if we can't stop him from implying otherwise.

"I don't think I'm pushing my luck too far with Mike, although that is something that I like to do," Butler says. "There's definitely a lot of me in this character, but I think it's more about me just being boisterous and fun.

"But I do think a lot of those values Mike espouses go on in both men and women if we're honest about how we look at each other," he adds. "At the end of it, we're both human."


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