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Eloquent Phantom

Category: Interviews
Article Date: May 31, 2005 | Publication: Japanese Dear Frankie Official Website | Author: Hideyori Fujikata

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Gerard Butler Press Conference in Japan

“Once I start talking, I can’t stop.” Gerry seems so cool on the outside, but he in person seems surprisingly eager to talk. In the entire one-hour press conference today, Gerry was able to answer only 4 questions altogether because he answers each question very thoroughly. Gerry, with his warm eyes, gentle mouth, friendly manners and considerate personality and demeanor, revealed a little bit of his past, not always was a smooth-sailing paths that he has taken to be where he is today. (It’s almost like finding some of his secrets?) This press conference turned out to be more like that than the usual Q&A.

Gerry: I was really happy that so many of the Japanese fans understood the Phantom’s psyche and soul, and supported the film. The fans’ reception at the Narita Airport was something I’ve never experienced before, and really made me love the Japanese people, though I always liked Japan. Japan is the only country outside of the UK that I participate in the promotion of “Dear Frankie.” So I really appreciate the warm, charming Japanese fans, and am really grateful that I get to see them here in person.

“Dear Frankie” is a small-time movie from the standpoint of the production and the cost, but it has a grand scale of the lyrical soul. This movie was filmed in the location only 3 to 7 miles from where I grew up. When I was growing up and playing around in the area, I’ve never imagined that I would be filming a movie someday in those places. It’s really interesting that the movie filmed in my hometown is now giving me the opportunity to come to Japan like this.

Q: What do you think of the differences in the roles you played in “The Phantom Of The Opera” and “Dear Frankie?”

Gerry: I started filming the POTO after I filmed “Dear Frankie,” and felt a lot of pressure when I was filming it. This large-scale film came with the grand scale of intent, desires, and the large-scale production, which made me feel all the pressure and the stress. But I was also simply enjoying the fact that I was involved in a film like that. It was an unforgettable experience that I’d never have again.

On the other hand, “DF” is a simple, sweet, heart warming film. The reason I accepted this role in this movie is because I was really moved when I read the script. I felt like my soul was cleansed, filled with warmth, and felt that I could have an optimistic view about the world.
It makes you think what is the family, what is a parent to a kid, what it’s like to be a kid, and at the same time, it makes you laugh and cry. It is bitter sweet, melancholic, but also makes the audience want to step out and experience the world. It makes your tears come out but makes you feel happy. That kind of movie is pretty rare.

Q: Many of the cast members in “DF” were Scottish and the filming was done in Scotland. Did that make the filming easier?

Gerry: Scots are very proud, nationalistic people, and work tightly together on issues whenever they rise. Since many people understood that “DF” is a movie with a passion, a special production, the filming went very smoothly. It took 6 weeks to film it, and during the entire time, we didn’t have a single day of rain. We had good weather every day. This was a proof that this movie was really blessed. I’ve been in a movie 80 times the size of “DF,” but we also had 100 times more problems with it. In filming this, we didn’t have any major problem. This is a rare example of how many ideas and talents of many people could mesh so well together. During the filming, I made many friends. I feel very honored to have been able to work with this film in my home country, Scotland, and I’m sure many of us felt the same way.

Q: We are told that Scots love to drink. Do you like to drink also?

Gerry: How do I answer this question…? I used to love to drink. At one point in my life, I was not interested in anything else but drinking. It may sound crazy, but in retrospect, I was blessed to have the period of life like that. Because of my drinking, I almost ruined my life, and would say that it made me loose my career to succeed as a lawyer. But if it wasn’t for this, I may have been a lawyer but living a miserable life, and never would have achieved this happy life as an actor. So that was not such a bad thing. I had drinks with whoever wanted to drink with me, and those friends who drank with me taught me many great lessons. So I can say that drinking ruined one of my careers, and nurtured my other career. Because of my experience from this terrible period, I understand that the life has its ups and downs. I also understand that there is a part of me inside which becomes hysteric and very emotional, but that’s a part of my soul. In the past eight years, I have not had a drop of alcohol. Now I love drinking coffee, and also drink coke once in a while.

Q: How did you prepare to play this nameless role of the “Stranger?”

Gerry: I always try to inject what’s inside of me into my role. I thoroughly discussed with the director as to what kind of person this man is, and deliberated on what kind of experience he had and what he really is like as an individual. After you see this movie, you can see that he is a wise, considerate person. But in the beginning, he seems to be withholding all that inside of him. That could be because he had a life full of sorrow. Unless something in his life happens to him, he won’t be able to release his feelings. He’s too jaded to want to connect with the outside world. He has a strong physique, always has his jaws tightened, and internalizes his feelings. He was a mentally closed person, but once he starts to encounter with the incidents (of getting together with Frankie and his family), he starts connecting with the world and walking on the new passage. How do I play a man like that? For this, I recalled what kind of issues I had as a child, one of which was very similar to Frankie’s, or a person I loved very much but ended up loosing in my twenties, and try to echo my soul in the Stranger’s personality.

To be frank, when I first read this story, I felt from the bottom of my heart that “this is MY story.” I have not been trained to be an actor, and am the type to act with my intuition, and I’ve never felt so spontaneously intuitive in acting as I did playing this role in “DF.” The day I was assigned to this role, I thought I could start right away that day. But since I had ample time to prepare, I was able to dig down deep into his character and to enhance this role.

* After the interview, the renown flower arranger Shogo Kayazaki, also a huge Gerry fan, presented him with a bouquet of flowers he’s designed with Gerry’s image in his mind.


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