Source: Out of the Box Author: Sean Marland
“This is the worst press conference of my career,” says Gerard Butler as he struggles to hold a microphone to his mouth in the basement of a Soho Hotel.
“You’re doing fine,” advises a beleaguered PR representative.
“No it’s alright – I don’t give a s**t,” he responds to much laughter. “My publicist is sitting at the back shaking his head thinking, ‘Gerry you were never a genius, but what happened?’”
Apparently Butler has had three just three hours of sleep in the last couple of days and to be honest, it shows. When an ill-advised hack asks him what his idea of hell is, his reaction is pretty predictable: “That’s a f**ked up question. I’m afraid I can’t answer that.”
OTB subtly lowers its hand. He does not look like a man who would respond well to us asking about the rubbish rom-coms he did after 300.
Contrary to the actor’s rantings however, this was not the worst press-conference ever – in fact it was quite interesting. Butler swore a lot, accused a member of the press of stalking him and talked about his first outing as a producer.
His new film, Law Abiding Citizen, hits cinemas next weekend and he plays Clyde Shelton, an apparently normal guy who decides to embark on a devastating campaign to take revenge on the system that cut a deal with his family’s murderer.
Even it’s critics (and there are some) will admit that for its short-comings, it is a fast, violent and very exciting ride which asks serious questions of the ethics involved in modern justice.
Well actually when we say it’s violent, we mean it’s very violent. “There was a discussion as to what level the violence should be, but everybody realised that this was what was going to make the movie stand-out,” said Butler.
“Firstly because it packs a punch and secondly because it’s entirely motivated. There’s also a huge popcorn element to the movie, I mean we can talk about the legal system, but it eventually gets to a certain level where it’s just pure entertainment. At that point we were pushing every piece of violence that we could!”
Well at least you know what you’re getting yourself in for…
Moving swiftly on, Butler starts to explain what got him hooked in on the project in the first place. “I was first interested in it because it is a great story,” he explains.
“You’re climbing into the mind of someone who has been so wronged, everything in his life has changed in one moment. It asks the audience what that must be like and what lengths they would go to for revenge. That’s what fascinated me as an actor.”
“I ended up spending a lot of time justifying my character, it’s a very powerful feeling that the story evokes inside you – i had a lot of empathy for him.”
But Mr. Leonidas didn’t just star as the one-man army which had the Philadelphia Police Force quaking in its boots, he produced this story of revenge – which might explain why he looks so knackered at the minute.
“When people are making movies on your back, after a while you want to be involved and get some of the credit for it, but the whole process of working on the script and everything else took about two years,” he says.
“Originally the financing company wanted me to be just an executive producer, but it was very much a deal-breaker for us – we wanted to be really hands on from the start.”
From what he was saying, it seemed clear that he enjoyed working on the film in this way, but when asked how the actual filming process affected him he spoke of the difficulties he had experienced.
“I don’t think I was always in a good place when we were filming this movie. Part of that was due to the character, but it was also because I was trying to produce and act at the same time.”
“Often my stomach would be churning because of what was going on, but when we finished – that was tough. I was in a funky mood for about a month, I went up a couple of hills, got a tent out and then decided to go off to India – that had some f**king bearing on me!
“Although after saying all that, I don’t doubt that I’ll produce again and hopefully I will have learned a lot from this experience,” he says with no little irony.