Born in Glasgow, Scotland to Margaret and Edward Butler, Gerard was raised (along with his older brother and sister) in his mother's hometown of Paisley, Scotland. He also spent some of his early youth in Canada. His parents divorced when he was a small child and he and his siblings were raised primarily by their mother who later remarried. He had no contact with his father Edward until years later when he was sixteen years old, after which time they became close. His father passed away when Gerard was in his early twenties |
From an early age Gerry was bitten by the acting bug. He appeared in a stage version of Oliver at the age of 12 and at 15, after seeing the movie Krull and imagining himself as the hero who wins the princess, announced to his mother that he wanted to be an actor. He participated in the summer program at the Scottish Youth Theatre in Glasgow in 1985 but then was encouraged to pursue a more "reliable" profession so he went on to attend University of Glasgow where he studied to be a Lawyer/Solicitor. He was even president of the school’s law society thanks to his outgoing personality and great social skills.
During his years training as a lawyer he wasn’t happy and was partying and drinking heavily. Two weeks before completing his term to become a practicing attorney he was fired by his firm. The next day he packed his bags and moved to London to pursue his dream of acting, and he quit drinking. By chance shortly after arriving in London he was approached in a London coffee shop by actor Steven Berkoff (who later appeared alongside Butler in Attila), who gave him a stage role in the play Coriolanus. The summer before he headed to London Butler had seen the stage version of Trainspotting in Edinburgh and a year later he was cast as Renton (the role played by Ewan McGregor in the movie) on stage in Edinburgh. His former coworkers at the law firm came to see him and gave him encouragement that he had made the right move in choosing to act. His debut movie role was as Billy Connolly's younger brother in the movie Mrs. Brown (1997). While filming the movie in Scotland, he was enjoying a picnic with his mother, near the River Tay, when they heard the shouts of a young boy who had been swimming with a friend who was in some trouble. Butler jumped in and consequently saved the young boy from drowning. He received a "Certificate of Bravery" from the Royal Humane Society. He felt he only did what anyone in that situation would have done.
His movie career continued with small roles in the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and Russell Mulcahy's Tale of the Mummy (1998) and a starring turn in the British film One More Kiss (1999) directed by Vadim Jean who is also expected to direct Gerard in Burns (tentatively 2009).
In 2000, Butler was cast in his breakthrough roles, the first being Attila the Hun in the USA TV mini-series Attila. Producers of the mini-series wanted a known actor to play the part but kept coming back to Gerard Butler's screen tests and decided that he was their man. He had to lose the thick Scottish accent, but managed well. Around the time Attila was being filmed, casting was in progress for Wes Craven's new take on the Dracula legacy, also wanting a known name (so Butler wasn't much of a consideration). His unending tenacity and drive drove him to hounding the producers. Eventually, he sent them a clip of his portrayal of Attila.
Evidently they liked it because Dracula 2000 (2000) was cast in the form of Gerard Butler. Producers of Attila, thinking that his big screen role might help with the Attila ratings, managed to finish up a little early so that he could get to work on Dracula 2000. Attila ended up being the 2nd highest rated mini-series ever. Following these two roles, Butler developed quite a fan base and Internet sites and lists started popping up everywhere.
Since then Butler has appeared in Reign of Fire (2002) as Creedy and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) as Terry Sheridan alongside Angelina Jolie, and Andre Marek in the big screen adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel Timeline (2003). Butler played an archaeologist who was sent back in time with a team of students to rescue a colleague. In 2004 he appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical The Phantom of the Opera, portraying the title character in the successful adaptation of the stage musical that has brought him much international attention. Other projects include Dear Frankie (2004) (for which he won a Bowmore Spirit Award), The Game of Their Lives (aka Miracle Match – US DVD title) (2005), and Beowulf & Grendel (2005).
In mid-2005 Gerard announced he had just been signed for something “HUGE", which turned out to be the leading role of King Leonidas in director Zack Snyder’s (Dawn of the Dead) CGI-heavy screen adaptation of Frank Miller’s (Sin City) graphic novel, 300 for Warner Brothers. The film, which cost $65 million to make, has proven to be an even bigger success than anyone could have anticipated, opening with nearly $71 million domestic gross its first weekend (March 9-11, 2007), the highest ever for a March opening. In its first 2 weeks it had grossed nearly $170 million worldwide, without having yet opened in many foreign markets. The juggernaut was rolling.
Following 300 Gerard filmed a thriller, Butterfly on a Wheel – renamed Shattered co-starring with Pierce Brosnan and Maria Bello, released on DVD 12/25/07, and a romantic comedy, P.S., I Love You with two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank which was released December 21, 2007.
He followed that up with Nim’s Island, in 2008 based on the children’s book by Wendy Orr and co-starring double Oscar-winner Jodie Foster and Oscar-nominee Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) . In it Gerard plays two characters – Nim’s father, Jack, and the fictional adventurer created by Jodie Foster’s character, Alex Rover. In October 2008 we saw the release of RocknRolla, a Guy Ritchie gangster-comedy in the vein of Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels in which Gerard plays One Two.
2009 was a busy year for new film releases. July saw the release of The Ugly Truth co- starring Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses, Knocked Up) in which Gerard plays Mike Chadway, a chauvinistic morning show host who puts his romantically-challenged producer through outrageous tasks to try to prove his relationship theories and help her find true love. That was followed in September by the long-delayed release of Gamer from directors Neveldine and Taylor (Crank) a sci-fi action thriller in which Gerard plays Kable, a man falsely imprisoned who must try to earn his freedom through the skilled hands of a young video gamer who controls him through a series of ever-more-dangerous battles. Then a month later in October Law Abiding Citizen was released. This was the first film produced by the newly formed Evil Twins Productions owned by Gerry and his long-time manager, Alan Siegel. (In 2011, Evil Twin Productions became Gerard Butler Alan Siegel Entertainment [us].) In LAC Gerry co-stars with Jamie Foxx and plays the role of Clyde Shelton, a brilliant mastermind who is hell-bent on taking down the entire legal system that failed to bring justice after his wife and daughter were brutally murdered.
Now in 2010 we have had back-to-back releases. First up was The Bounty Hunter, an action-rom-com costarring Jennifer Aniston. Gerry plays a down on his luck bounty hunter who drank his way out of his former job as a cop. He is given a skip trace job that just happens to be for his ex-wife who failed to appear in court because she was out pursuing a story for her job as an investigative reporter. That was followed immediately by the 3D Dreamworks animation project How to Train Your Dragon in which Gerard provides the voice of Stoick the Vast, the proud chief of his Viking tribe and somewhat befuddled father of the lead character, Hiccup.
In June Gerard headed to Serbia to film Coriolanus costarring and directed by Ralph Fiennes. That was followed up by Machine Gun Preacher in which he will star as the real life former druggie and biker, Sam Childers, who found his own life purpose and salvation in rescuing the child soldiers of Sudan. Filming began in Detroit and was completed in South Africa. Both films will probably be released in 2011.
Presently we await news of what is next, hopefully after Gerry gets some much-deserved rest and relaxation!
It is still Gerard’s dream to play the role of Scotland’s native son, Robert Burns, in a film about this fascinating man from Scotland’s past. We hope to hear that this will come to fruition soon.
Gerard’s choices prove that he will not allow himself to be typecast or pigeon- holed in one type of role. We remain very excited to see all that his future brings.
Compiled by Susan~Sporran
Sources: imdb.com and several TV and print interviews with Gerard Butler.