Gerard Butler: Hollywood's Last Bad Boy
By Scott Huver
photography By Sam jones
Gerard doesn’t fret about where his star stands in the Hollywood firmament or second-guess his career choices, having occasionally bucked his handlers’ wisdom to tackle roles that simply intrigued him. “There were times when it felt like maybe my career was going off the tracks when I did smaller movies,” he says. “They were movies I found really interesting that didn’t really hit. That’s when you realize that if you get the chance to do more commercial fare, one, it’s a lot of fun; and two, you can make some money to live on. You also become more marketable, and it allows you to spread yourself out more and take on a wider amount of roles and stories, so that’s been my fight and struggle.” He pauses and shakes his head at his turn of phrase. “Not ‘my fight and my struggle’—I shouldn’t say it like that, because it’s not a fight and a struggle. I mean, I love it, but that’s been my journey—to never feel like I’m going down any predictable road. It’s not the only factor I take into account, but it is a big factor: Where can I go I haven’t already been?”
Slim-fit, single-button suit ($1,695), white dress shirt ($195) and silk skinny tie ($125), John Varvatos. 8800 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 310-859-2791
|Modern-fit, three-piece suit ($1,895), dress shirt ($195) and slim wool tie ($160), Burberry. 9560 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-550-4500|
For now, that place is the life of Sam Childers, the narcotics-dealing, drug-addicted Midwestern biker with a criminal record who found God and dedicated his life to building—and zealously defending—an orphanage in war-torn Sudan, whose story forms Machine Gun Preacher. “I think what made me want to walk around in his shoes was just the man himself,” says Butler. “What he’s achieved is so mind-blowing, so unbelievable—this person who just kind of takes on the world, decides to go into Sudan and build an orphanage in the middle of a civil war. You think, How does that happen? Who does that? He’s such a fascinating character, really a kind of antihero who’s got so much more going on with him. He’s definitely not a Mr. Goody Two-Shoes, squeaky-clean hero, so it just felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
If the fire in the pit of his gut has indeed cooled, Butler’s enthusiasm for his profession remains undimmed. “I do get incredibly excited about the movies I’m involved in, whether they’re good or bad. I believe they’re going to be good and put a lot into them.” He’s concerned his desire to have a good time once the heavy lifting on set is over may be creating the false impression he views his gig as just a lark. “I feel like I work so hard when I make movies, and I often think I work harder than anyone I’ve worked with—or at least as hard. And yet when I do the interviews, I like to have fun. I’ve often said to my publicists, ‘Should I not be so light?’ because perhaps people take it less seriously and think I haven’t put in the work or taken the role as seriously as I have,” says Butler. “You hope people actually see when they watch you on-screen—whether it’s a comedy or a drama or a musical—the effort you put in.”
The Shackles of Fame
And then there is that encroaching ambivalence that comes with increasing stardom. “I love what I do,” says Butler, “but the more successful I’ve become, the more I’ve realized it’s the things around acting I don’t love. I sometimes wish I could just go make a movie and then disappear. I never thought I would be like that, actually. I was surprised at my reaction, because I love acting. It’s harder than anything I’ve ever done, but it also provides more fun and fulfillment than anything else I’ve ever done.”
Though cognizant that “whining” about celebrity rarely engenders great sympathy (“‘Screw you!’ ‘Bring out the violin!’” he mockingly says), Butler makes it clear it’s the double-edged nature of public recognition that’s gotten under his skin; encounters with genuine admirers still give the movie fan in him a relatable kick—the paparazzi, not so much.
Styling by Neil Rodgers at Tracey Mattingly; grooming by jamie taylor at the wall group;
shot on location at Rampart Community police station
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.