If a natural disaster ever hits Ireland there’s one man we want on our side… Scottish actor Gerard Butler. He single handedly saved our British neighbours in last years ‘London Has Fallen’, & saved Washington in 2013’s ‘Olympus has fallen’, and lets not forget him battling an entire army in ‘300’.He returns this month to save us again in disaster film GEOSTORM, Butler plays Jake Lawson a satellite technician who helps to tackle malfunctioning climate-control satellites that are creating a global storm of epic proportions.
What is about disaster movies like ‘Geostorm’ that audiences love so much? That’s a good question… For thousands of years people stood around campfires telling scary stories, its part of our makeup that we like to be scared in a way. Especially in a disaster movie because they’re so epic and over the top, it allows you to disconnect, to know that you can be scared and see intense ideas and think… ‘what if? .. What if that happened?’ but you know that its probably not going to happen and at the end of the day you’re sitting in a cinema with your popcorn and Diet Coke, (or for me a coke).
Disaster movies like this use a lot of big CGI and green screen, is it difficult to act opposite nothing when everything will be built around you in the computer later? I can’t say its my favourite, but it does bring out a different acting muscle, it’s like being on a stage with nothing and having to pretend you’re in a whole other environment. It tests you in a different way, however in our movie there’s actually an awful lot of conventional physical sets that were built. We filmed at NASA and used their stages and their equipment, we were on a stage that was 42 acres in size, so they were pretty epic. We built a quarter mile of hallways, tunnels, rooms, loading docks and a large NASA control room. The sets were incredible, you could get lost and find yourself living in that world. Then there were other times where, yeah, you had to imagine an awful lot that wasn’t there.
In ‘Geostorm’ you play a Satellite technician, what type of research can you do in a role like this? I chatted to a couple of experts from NASA, a couple of engineers and scientists. When you see me as a scientist, it’s more a personality, a way of being, so its not the information they’re telling me, I’m looking more at their geekiness & their weirdness, because that’s who my character is. I assume my character knows the things he knows, I know how to build a space station, I know how to think outside of the box, there’s an intelligence that’s implied, but then I go from there and ask what does that intelligence bring? It brings an arrogance, a social awkwardness, a stubbornness, so thats where he becomes interesting.
What attracted you to making a big disaster movie? I love movies with epic proportions and epic ideas, sometimes they don’t work but if it works you know you’re going to scare the sh*t out of the audience, they’re going to go for a ride, they’re going to have a great time and come out inspired with that subtle message of ‘What If?’. Ultimately its about people overcoming their differences, working together and about governments having to get over their search for power to make things better, theres inspiring ideas in there, then at the same time I’ve just done a movie about a father who’s kid gets leukaemia, he goes on a very spiritual journey with his kid & I just finished a dark psychical thriller about three light house keepers in the 1920s in Scotland called ‘Keepers’. For me, I get attracted by things that are different, I like when something is cool or weird or funny, I just did a comedy with Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr & Benicio Del Toro called ‘All Star Weekend’, but to me, it’s the same muscle I talk about when it comes to special effects, it’s the same muscle that I like to use wether its sci-fi or drama or comedy, just to keep it interesting.
Irish actor Robert Sheehan is in the movie, he’s known for his big sense of humour, did you get to do many scenes with him and what was he like to work with? Let me tell you something, he’s my favourite person, I’ve never seen anybody who can make everything seem so natural and real, especially when we’re talking about this movie (laughs). Robert was just a genius, such an interesting character the way he looks at life, he’s so easy going, he’s got that Irish sensibility, he’s a rogue, he’s a bad boy but he’s fascinating with great stories, then he acts and makes everything incredibly believable and interesting, its really a joy to work with him… I’ve a lot of time for Robert.