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Phantom of the Opera Stars Speak Out

Category: Transcripts
Article Date: January 21, 2005 | Publication:
95.8 Capital FM | Author: interview (transcript by fieryangel

Posted by: admin
No date, but references in interview lead me to believe it was before the world premiere in London.

No name was given for the man who will go down in history as asking the "Engelbert question" so he just gets called "I"

Interviewer: So we’re here with Gerard Butler, managed to catch up with one of the stars from the “Phantom of the Opera” right?

GB: The star

I: (emphasizes) THE star.

GB: I’m jokin’, I’m jokin’ (both have a good laugh)

I: Well, y’know eh, he’s not just shifting scenery around in this one. Is it uh…(GB interrupts to ask)

GB: Is there anybody else in this movie? I thought it was just me?

I: Well no there is, there’s a couple of others, um there’s some guy who I think used to be in “Brookside” uh, but uh…

GB: I have no idea, I always just thought it was me, “The Phantom of the Opera” I thought it was just all about me. I’m always conned in these jobs, I’m tellin’ ya!

I: Now listen, you of course, you play the Phantom. Which is a massive role. How, firstly, did you find out that you’d got this gig?

GB: Em, because somebody told me. (laughs) No, I…I kind of…actually this was a very strange process in getting a part because from the first time I met Joel, Joel Schumacher the director, he basically said ‘what do you think of the script?’ And I had just read it the night before—and actually not really expected to love it—but I had, and I had read it whilst listening to the music at the same time, and it blew me away. And when I told Joel what I thought of it, he said ‘well that’s great, ‘cause I want you to play the Phantom.’ But I still had to go through the process of singing for ALW, taking a bunch of singing lessons, and then they essentially said ‘we’re going to give you the role, but we just can’t announce it yet.’ So I kept training, and it was a good month—five weeks—after that that I heard. So when I heard, it wasn’t a huge shock, because I’d always kind of known, y’know, and it would have been more of a shock if I’d found out that I didn’t get it.

I: ALW, apparently had seen you in the movie “Dracula 2000,” and thought ‘that’s our guy.’ I mean, what was it like working with Sir Andrew?

GB: Is that right? Did he see me in “Dracula?”

I: Apparently so…

GB: I thought it was Joel that saw me in “Dracula.” Well I spose maybe more than one person saw “Dracula.” That’s not what I heard, I thought nobody watched it. Um, but he’s amazing, he’s actually very charming, he’s funny, he’s, y’know, slightly insane…which is great and he was—I tell ya, y’know when…I went from a process of feeling a bit out at sea and thinking ‘what am I doin,’ not having been y’know a singer before this, and feelin, like I say out of my depth—to finding him the most, how would you say, motivating, inspiring, person to work with. Whenever he was around, I just felt like I could do anythin’, y’know? Which I didn’t expect to happen, but it just did. And whenever he came into the recording sessions, he would basically just fill me with this confidence and say ‘what do you think? Do what you want to do’ which I was really surprised about. And always, I knew, that he was lovin’ what we were doin’ because he would come in and say ‘guys, I can’t tell ya how much I’m enjoyin’ this and how much I’m lovin’ it,’ so that was great.

I: Is he really passionate about it?

GB: VERY! Well he’s such a passionate man, y’know, so [if] he feels things aren’t workin’, he feels that deeply, and things that are working he has to be very vocal about it. And so, but through this movie, he would—which is a great thing, because you know if he’s not happy you’re going to hear it—but in this movie he was constantly y’know, seem to be tellin’ us he was flabbergasted and very happy with what was happening, so that really helps ya y’know? Rather than thinking y’know, oh my god, they’re all sitting over there goin’ ‘SH*T! What did we do puttin’ this guy in as the Phantom?!’

I: Now, talkin’ bout the Phantom, I mean one of the things you seem to bring to the role is this kind of dark, mysterious side. This is something that I think the director Joel Schumacher really wanted to bring across.

GB: Em, yeah, I guess. Well, he is a kind of dark, mysterious character. But I think that, y’know, if you were to…maybe I had more of an opportunity to do that on film, than you would have on the stage. Because if you just play too dark and mysterious on stage, it could come across as very…very dull. But what we were allowed to do in this is make things much more subtle, which is why some people questioned whether the Phantom could work. That’s exactly why it can work. Because essentially, what is at the heart of this story is, is a beautiful, tragic love story…and that works. That works in small subtle ways when you can actually look into the eyes of the Phantom or Christine, or you can hear it in the voice—you don’t have to bellow out the song y’know you can whisper them. So, em, yeah.

I: Playing the character, I mean a real series of different emotions. Could you relate to him?

GB: Very much, very much. ‘Cause I have….and that’s what’s surprised me when I read the script. I had never seen “The Phantom.” I read the script and I bought the soundtrack, and I listened to the soundtrack as I read the script. And by the end of it I was soaked and I was wiping tears from my neck and I thought ‘oh my god I so know this guy,’ y’know. And to me that was…y’know when you get a chance at a role that you can really get your teeth into and give it all that, y’know that sensuality and there’s a bit of fun in there as well, but use every bit of power you have, but then every bit of vulnerability and sadness, and weakness, and pain—bring all of that in as well. To bring in things that are really at the opposite ends of the continuum, y’know. To turn somebody on but make them cry at the same time is a challenge and what I love about acting.

I: That trademark mask—famous the world over—the Phantom’s obviously disfigured face hidden, hidden under it. Did it take long in makeup for this? ‘Cause y’know the effects on screen looked pretty impressive.

GB: yeah, yeah it killed me. My least favorite part of this job. I’ve done prosthetics before and sometimes I think I’d prefer to be shot in head than go through them, y’know? Actually, I get panicked knowing I’m going in to it. And the first three makeup tests were nine hours. Sitting in a chair with three people poking you in the face and gluing my lower eyelid to a piece of string that went down my back, and they pull my eye down via that. But then again, it looked fantastic, and psychologically, you spend hours and hours in a mirror seeing yourself being made into something horribly deformed—it so helps you to go and perform—especially when you can feel it on your face. And also, after five hours of mental torture, you’re kind of in the space to go and perform.

I: Well you did some research into disfigurement didn’t you, briefly?

GB: Yeah, yeah I got some, I kind of borrowed a lot of people about getting some books and information on different societies and different kind of deformities. And actually a couple of people in the movie had people very close to them who had similar deformities. So yeah, yeah.

I: Now when I saw the film, I reckoned that the side of your face that wasn’t hidden looked a little bit like Engelbert Humperdinck. You had the big sideburns going, so I…correct me if I’m wrong but has that ever been said?

GB: Em, no you’re the first to say it. (interviewer starts laughing) And I can’t believe you just said that!

I: No seriously! Someone in the waiting room here, someone else said ‘yeah! It looks a little bit like Engelbert Humperdinck with the..y’know the guy…’

GB: Well I can’t honestly remember what Engelbert…I can’t even say his name…Engel-bert, En-gel…bert…Humper….dinck gah! God…eh, I can’t remember what he looked like. So, but I get the feeling that that’s a huge insult, y’know, and I can see by the look on your face that you know it is! ‘Cause I actually thought that I looked alright on the other half, y’know, I was kinda like ‘yeah! Y’know…

I: You looked quite, y’know as yourself you’re fairly dark, but you know you had the dark slicked back, the big sideburns going on…quite a dashing character going on there!

GB: Yeah, it’s a bit em, well…yeah. It was, I don’t wanna talk to much about how I feel I looked. But yeah, it was, it was a good look.

I: Not bad, not bad for the ladies.

GB: Who’s that character…em (snaps fingers) Jane Austin….

I: em….Mr….

GB: I always forget his name. Not “Pride and Prejudice”

I: No I was thinking that as well actually…

GB: I think we can just cut this bit, let’s move on…let’s (giggles)

I: let’s talk just a, briefly Phantom the show 18 years old this year. You saw it here in London, didn’t you. What’s made it last all this time?

GB: Em, ooh God I dunno, I suppose it’s the heart and soul of the piece, y’know? I mean, it’s very entertaining, it’s very funny, but at the end of the day as I said before, there’s a really powerful love story in there that is in some ways all about the underdog, y’know, and I think people really relate to that…that feeling of perhaps loving something so much. Or appreciating the imperfection and kind of ugliness in ourselves, y’know. But especially I always feel about loving something so much, that fear that we all have of maybe never being able to be loved back. We all kind of hope and expect that as our right as humans to have that, to have companionship. And suddenly when you climb into somebody’s head you can’t even have that. It kind of rips you apart.

I: and just finally about your new film, I think it’s out early next year now isn’t it?

GB: Dear Frankie?

I: Yeah.

GB: Yeah, that’s a gorgeous, sweet little movie that I did with Emily Mortimer and Sharon Small about a little deaf boy who thinks he’s writin’ letters to his father only to realize that he’s actually writin’ to his mother. And she gets caught out in a way and has to find somebody to play the boy’s dad for a day. And I come in to do that. It’s such an unusual story but told in the simplest way. It’s like a fairy tale y’know. But I tell ya I, it’s turned out to be an incredibly powerful little movie at the festivals it’s just gone down in a storm. So, it’s…I’m proud of that one, I’m proud of that one ‘cause that’s something that Emily and I just did. We didn’t expect much to happen with it, but we just thought ‘what a great little story.’ And it seems to be about to take off.

I: Looking forward to seeing that, and, but before all that looking forward to when this [Phantom] is released as well. Thank you for talking to us today.

GB: No problem.

I: It’s been fantastic I apologize about the Engelbert Humperdinck thing and

(GB laughs)

I: Thanks for all that and lovely to meet you, cheers!


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