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L'uomo Vogue

Category: Interviews
Article Date: April 1, 2005 | Publication: L'uomo Vogue | Author: L'uomo Vogue

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Now he is a star. He’s been one for a short time -a typical case of an overnight celebrity- since the premiere of “The Phantom of the Opera” of which Gerard Butler (35 years old since last November) is the protagonist with the title role. Yet no one can recognize in him the vampire of Wes Craven’s “Dracula 2000” nor the Terry Sheridan from “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life”. “I take it as a compliment, the fact of appearing so different from character to character and not being recognized”, the Scottish actor told a British newspaper last month. He will be even less recognized after this new movie, where Gerry –as he likes to be called- performs and sings with half his face covered with a mask. It’s not that he dislikes not being recognized, because he is very protective of his privacy. But it must be difficult to remain anonymous being tall (1,87mts), strong and masculine as he is. More now that People magazine has included him between the sexiest men on the planet. He says “I would rather be appreciated as a actor that does interesting roles than as a sexy guy. It’s not that I am handsome as a male model…”. Kind and ironic, he doesn’t hide his alcoholic past. As a young man, he studied law at Glasgow University while he sang in a rock band called Speed. “During the day, I tried to be a lawyer and during the night I was a junk version of Jim Morrison. At least I thought I wasn’t that bad”, he says. “As a singer I was booked for three nights but then I was fired. One time I showed myself in a three-pieced clothing, yelling and causing trouble on the street. During the most important performance, they kicked me out of the stage twice because I had started shouting violently towards the audience”. He concluded little of what he started, and before sitting for the final exam, he went to America for a year. Even there, “my own lack of control won over me, and I got into one mess after another”. In the end, he returned to Scotland for his graduation, but due to his troubles with alcohol, he was expelled from the course. “Only one week after the diploma and after wasting seven years of my life, I was fired. A terrible moment, but it was then and there that I decided to dedicate myself to acting. Anyway, I never liked being a lawyer, and besides one can learn something positive from this bad things. The next day I made my luggage and went to London and I said ‘F***, you’ve reached the bottom, now try to come out as best as you can’”. At a bar he met actor Steven Berkoff who offered him a role in “Corolarious”. Since that moment he dedicated himself only to his career. He continued to perform at the theatre until the end of 1997, year in which he made his movie debut with minor roles (“Mrs Brown” and “Tomorrow never dies”), until today, that is. Meanwhile, his rock singer experience turned into an advantage. “We needed someone with a musical sensibility that was close to rock n’ roll”, says Lloyd Webber, composer of the award-winning musical show who wrote the script and music for the Joel Schumacher movie. “He had to be a bit rough, a bit unsettling, not a conventional singer … And Butler has a fantastic rock tenor voice”. Gerry trusts that his singing will be as emotional as the reading of the material was for him. “I related with the character, with his passion, his artistic sensibility and the suffering and alienation that have accompanied him all his life. The Phantom is a person with extraordinary talents, with an almost magical strength and charisma, but at the same time he has the dark consequences of an abandoned child. I also went through some dark times in my life, that’s way I know how the Phantom feels”. The character, he explains, represents all of us because “as you get older and your past gets heavier, there are things that you don’t want to carry with you any more, things about yourself that you don’t want to reveal because you fear that the others will judge you as being ugly and disgusting. I believe that the Phantom has such a strong impact among the public because people can relate with his suffering”. Gerry has just returned to London, where he lives, after a short tour around the United States, to immerse himself back into anonymity. And to get ready for his next role, that of the Scottish poet in the movie “Burns”, biopic directed by Jean Vadim, which will start shooting next spring.


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