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Interview with `Phantom of the Opera's' Gerard Butler

Category: Phantom of the Opera News
Article Date: January 23, 2005 | Publication: Manila Bulletin Online | Author: KAYE D. VILLAGOMEZ

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BANGKOK, Thailand — Gerard Butler, that singing hunk from Joel Schumacher's "Phantom of the Opera" is indeed every bit the hottie
he seems to be. Butler, who plays the Phantom opposite Emmy Rossum's Christine, struck the press people who attended the movie press
conference at Shangri-La Bangkok as a smooth-talking, every inch the Hollywood-savvy actor which is why rumors have been circulating that he wanted to be the next James Bond.

In Schumacher's interpretation of "The Phantom of the Opera," Butler was instructed to play a sexy, irrisistible almost-dashing Phantom
so the character may warrant the attraction of the very young, sweet and innocent Christine.

Revealed Schumacher, the movie has been conceptualized 16 years ago when "I just did what… some two or three movies. The big difference of doing `Phantom' now doesn't only stand on the fact that I've done more movies now and have learned so much and matured through the course of it but that we had to wait for Emmy Rossum to be born,"
Schumacher told candidly. "I thought it's perfect to bring in someone so young to play Christine and Phantom. The movie turned out
a success (named among the top films of last year in Hollywood) because mainly of the actors and the perfect cast I was able to get
for it," continued the inexhaustible director.

Aside from Butler and Rossum, the elaborate "Phantom of the Opera" includes Miranda Richardson and Minnie Driver in its cast. For her part, Richardson couldn't believe the larger-than-life production and musical that the film is. According to Schumacher, he
literally "begged" for Miranda to join in. "Not that I was reluctant to take the part but that I was nervous to be in a musical and to
sing," said Richardson who is also scheduled to star in the fourth "Harry Potter" installment this year. In "The Goblet of
Fire," Richardson is to play reporter Rita Skeeter, the vicious, fashion-victim reporter who haunts Harry and his friends for
sensationalized stories.

The one thing Richardson could say about the kids of "Harry Potter" is "They're amazing. They are unbelievably professional and
adorable. Yeah, it's crazy, I know but yes, Daniel (Radcliffe) is just adorable. He loves music and they're all a pleasure to work

"Phantom of the Opera" premiered in Bangkok last Saturday, Jan. 22 for the Bangkok International Film Festival where incidentally Joel Schumacher was honored a career achievement award. The Bangkok
International Film Festival honored films from around the world including Philippine entries "Imelda," "Crying Ladies," "Keka"
and "Homecoming." "Imelda" was nominated for the best documentary category while the three other movies for best film. The Best
Picture went to Spain's "The Sea Inside" which also bagged the best actor trophy for Javier Bardem in last Friday's Golden Kinnaree
Awards for the Bangkok filmfest. Annette Benning was named best festival actress for "Being Julia" and Park ChanWook is best
director for Korea's "Old Boy." Best Asian film, which topped our local entries went to "Beautiful Washing Machine" from Malaysia
while "Born Into Brothels" was named best documentary. More than 3,000 people from all over the world witnessed the event including
Michael Douglas (who presented Schumacher's achievement award), Jeremy Irons, Gerard Butler, Miranda Richardson and Jean Claude Van

At the press conference, Schumacher kept saying how proud he was in getting Butler as Phantom. "He is who the Phantom should be: Highly sensitive and a great singer and actor.

Here, Gerard Butler briefly talks about the entire experience: His comet-like shot at Hollywood fame and having to prove he's worth the niche.

How does it feel to be cast in the lead in your first Hollywood

It took a long time to settle in. I thought "Okay, I'd do it without having thought of what I was really getting into. "-Most of it was because it's unbelievable I was just going along with it.

How big an advantage was it that you can sing?

Actually, my singing experience didn't help me that much. My first real singing experience was when I realized I'm doing the part and I
started taking formal lessons for it.

So when did it all finally sink in?

It wasn't until I saw the production. The costumes were unimaginable. The whole idea of it, the out-of-this-world musical and just all the trouble everybody had to go through to mount such a film. When I saw the set, that's where it all came on me.

And how did the pressure feel like?

Cannot describe it exactly but it helps a lot to be with the company of actors who are very fun to work with and an actor's director in
Joel Schumacher.

They said you're gunning to be the next Bond?

I'm starting to get tired of hearing that but like what I always say, it's not true and even if it were, I wouldn't tell you (laughs)!

What kind of Phantom is Gerard Butler playing?

The kind who has so much compassion which is what all the film is about.

Aside from the huge production, elaborate effects and solid musical that the film promises to be, what makes it different from the past "Phantom of the Opera" big screen adaptations?

Like the Phantom himself who is full of love and compassion, the film comes at a time when this is what we need. Every country in the
world is experiencing difficult times and it is during these trying times that compassion is needed the most, that's where the emotions
of the film comes in.


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