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Gerard Butler GALS

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The Hollywood actor directing his own career

From a pre-teen Oliver Twist to the producer and star of his latest big screen thriller, Gerard Butler has done it all. He tells film critic Tony Earnshaw about living life in the Tinseltown fast lane.

GERARD Butler claims he's never had much of a plan. Instead things have just happened to him.

These things include leading ladies such as Hilary Swank, Rachel

Weisz and Yorkshire's Lena Headey. The movies, many of them in the last five years, have been ever bigger, ever louder and, in Law Abiding Citizen, ever more controversial.

Butler is absurdly proud of this outlandish new flick, an OTT vigilante thriller in which he pursued the role of a lawyer before becoming fixated on his nemesis, a chill-to-the-bone hero/villain who seeks revenge from his prison cell.

Hollywood has long enjoyed that staple of the movies, the cold tale of vengeance. Butler appears to have bought into the idea utterly, so completely has he immersed himself in the making of this slick, fanciful and nasty whodunit.

"I play your typical husband, but his family are killed and brutally murdered at the opening of the movie and I'm not given any justice when I go and see the District Attorney," explains Butler. "I come back and seek my revenge on the DA and everybody who was involved in the original case.

"There's definitely a lot of violence in the film, but there's also a lot of perceived or potential violence. It's incredibly tense and suspenseful, especially because whatever happens comes out of the blue. You never know where this movie's going to go."

It's kind of sweet that Butler is so caught up in his own project. He's always been passionate about acting. Early days with the Scottish Youth Theatre, playing the title role in Oliver! aged 12, are ever-present in his mind.

He possesses the same gung-ho attitude today – this despite a seven-year hiatus in which he trained as a lawyer. He made his film debut in 1997, opposite Billy Connolly in Mrs Brown. Three years ago, he was propelled to stardom as ultimate warrior Leonidas in 300, a blood-spattered comic-book version of the story of the 300 Spartans.

Looking back to those long-ago days at Glasgow's King's Theatre, Butler recalls a craving to act that took him by surprise. Two decades later he confesses to being content in his position in the movie star firmament.

"When I was younger I had such a powerful and persistent yearning to be an actor, which was like a pain in my chest. It would ebb, then come back and then go away. Most of the time I thought it was just a dream.

"When I was at the Scottish Youth Theatre, I'd think I'd have a nice role in a play but that someone else should be the star. And then somewhere along the line, that changed."

In Los Angeles, that industry town that masquerades as the artistic centre of the film universe, Butler hired an expensive acting coach who tapped into the actor's inner psyche in full-on Method fashion. Says Butler: "He made me delve into myself so much, my passion and my pride, my patriotism… it was such a powerful experience. And I thought 'Why shouldn't that be me up there?' Then I got my first Hollywood lead, which was Dracula, and stopped worrying!"

Butler appears to have accepted his status as one of the new breed of Hollywood leading men. This year alone he's topped the bill in Gamer, The Ugly Truth and now Law Abiding Citizen. He lends his voice to

How to Train Your Dragon, out in 2010, and has been working on The Bounty, in which he plays a hitman hired to assassinate his ex-wife, played by Jennifer Aniston.

He calls the cramped release of his three films "a quirk of the schedule" but believes the scattergun nature of the parts showcases his versatility, albeit in accidental fashion.

"I think it must have been a conscious decision, because I don't think I'd like to do three romantic comedies back-to-back," he says.

"I do try and bounce from one to the other. It's more fun for me to go

from a romantic comedy to a thriller to a kids' movie to a musical. I'd rather not have the three movies come out so close together, but it does manage to show my range."

That's a pragmatic businesslike man talking. Butler is one of several producers on Law Abiding Citizen, so he's hardly likely to talk down his own work. Instead, he opts for a full-on charm offensive, that buoys up his own reputation while simultaneously plugging the film. You have to hand it to him. I ask if he's more comfortable in some genres than others.

"It's tough, because I'd always wanted to do more comedy but then

was worried because there's a difference between wanting to do a comedy

and being a funny person," he replies with casual grace.

"Stepping into a high-level Hollywood comedy is not always easy, although I do think I've taken to that like a duck to water. Also I feel I've proved myself in action movies.

"But then again, maybe thrillers are my thing. Law Abiding Citizen might turn out to be my best performance."

Law Abiding Citizen (18) is on nationwide release.

Gerard Butler Factfile

Born in Scotland on November 13, 1969, he won a place at Glasgow University to study law.

After graduating he worked briefly at an Edinburgh legal firm before pursuing his dream to become an actor.

His first roles were in Shakespeare's Coriolanus and the stage version of Trainspotting. In 1997 he starred in Mrs Brown alongside Judi Dench. His big break came when he got the lead in Dracula 2000.

He is returning to where it all started in Coriolanus which will be Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut.

While he now lives in America, splitting his time between New York and Los Angeles, he remains a huge Celtic fan.

He is also patron of the charity Kids Kicking Cancer.

Edited by jojo23
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Thanks! I enjoyed this ..........having just read articles in the Guardian and the Telegraph which contained vicious attacks on Gerard, this was nicer to read. Both gave LAC horrible reviews.........I emailed both to complain ....not liking the movie is one thing...personal attacks are something else. No wonder Mr. Butler doesn't care for the UK press!!!!

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I think this is the first time we hear that he had an acting coach when he first started. He's said that he hasn't had any acting training but I guess he probably meant not attending an acting school. It was sensible to seek some sort of quick "training", I think it's one more sign that he is someone who takes his profession seriously and does not leave things to chance.


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Wasn't that the acting coach who complained because Gerry said he was too expensive- $1000 an hour, though at the time, which the press doesn't bother to illucidate he was just starting in his career, [$1000 barely covers your rent out in LA] not after he had become successful. He must have gotten enough lessons however to make a difference.

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Ha! Lavender the press will never elucidate or validate a lot of things.Poor guy was just starting out that is a lot of money for someone who has to probably decide between paying rent or an acting coach.Was he gonna let Gerry bunk on his couch?

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