Interview Gerard Butler

“I would like to apologise to the nation of Ireland for completely abusing your accent” – Gerard Butler apologies for PS I Love You.

 It took Gerard Butler a little longer than expected to become a leading man, but now, as RocknRolla hits our screens, he lets know that he’s more than ready.

Last Monday night in London was the world premiere of Guy Ritchie’s attempted return-to-Lock, Stock-form, RocknRolla, and it’s leading man might just still be drunk.

Gerard Butler’s certainly feeling giddy. And seemingly light-headed. When I open with my usual quip about mixing it up a little by talking about drugs and any homosexual encounters, deadpan as you like, he replies, “Sure”.

He then goes on to offer up an answer. “Eh, heroin. Oh, and about 16, 17 guys have kissed me…”.

A certain section of 300’s dedicated followers will be no doubt delighted to hear about the latter, but, it’s worth pointing out that Gerard Butler is taking the Michael. I think.

“Right now, you could ask me anything, and I’d probably answer it with some gibberish of one sort or another,” he smiles. “Last night was a very good night.”

In RocknRolla, Butler plays One-Two, the charming East End crook-about-town who gets roped into stealing huge chunks of Russian mafia cash by a very slinky accountant (played by the very slinky Thandie Newton), and thus setting in motion a battle between London’s old school underworld (headed up here by Tom Wilkinson’s self-professed “headmaster”) and a Russian billionaire (played by Karl Roden) who, cheekily, bears an uncanny resemblence to Chelsea F.C. owner Roman Abramovich.

As with Guy Ritchie’s first two outings, Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, RocknRolla is pretty much Only Fools & Horses with big guns. Only it’s not quite as good as those two earlier, funnier films.

Q: Was it easy to become the loveable likely lad One Two? All fun, or was there some actual work involved?

A: I don’t think there’s much work involved. I’d love to say that I came and hung out with gangs for two months, but, no – we went and visited a speeler, and hung out there for a little bit. Other than that, I didn’t even see these guys. Because no one would see them on the street and automatically think that they were criminals. They don’t necessarily act like that.

It’s more, you put these guys in that situation, and that’s who they are. And you know instinctively about they’re going to be. There’s a Ritchie-ism, there’s a way to be, and you more try to relax into that. So, that’s what I did, and Guy seemed to be really happy with it.

Q:Guy is stepping back to his early, funny films, after the cold shoulder given to Swept Away and Revolver. Any relucance on your part, given that the latter two films pretty much sucked?

A:I just took it at face value, you know. I’m a big fan of Lock, Stock and Snatch. I knew this was more like that than those other two movies. I also knew this was Guy Ritchie.

With other directors, you might be a little bit more cynical, but, I read the script, and I loved it. I looked at who else was in the film, and I thought, you know what, this is going to be a riot. I’ve seen the movie, and that’s exactly what it is – a riot.

Q:Since your screen debut in Mrs. Brown back in 1997, and there were quite a few occasions when you seemed destined to break through – with such films as Dracula 2000 and Phantom Of The Opera. That break finally came with 300 – a great sense of achievement, or just another day at the office?

It was neither, really. It wasn’t just another day of the office, but, initially, it wasn’t a great sense of achievement either. It was actually very hard to come to terms with, because, of course, 300 didn’t just do well, it was a phenomenon, in a way. That was hard to accept. It was only a few months later, when the dust had settled, that I could understand what that meant. How it had affected my life. So then I would say it was fifty-fifty, another day at the office, and the other thing that you said, which I now forget.

Q:Got to wrap up, but I can’t go without mentioning P.S. I Love You. And that Irish accent…

I was hoping you guys would be quite forgiving of me, me being a little Scots boy whose whole family are Irish. They really are – my family is from all over Ireland.

When I read that film, in a very innocent way, I thought it was so beautiful towards Ireland, and the Irish people. So, I thought I’d just go in there, and try and do my best. I notice when people bring it up, they try not to say anything about it. They don’t go, ‘Hey, it was awesome!’. They tend to go, ‘So, the Irish accent…’. So, I can tell they weren’t that impressed.

It was fine, but, hey, if you feel like apologising to the good people of Ireland…

I would like to apologise to the nation of Ireland for completely abusing your accent. I realise that it’s a much more beautiful language and accent than what I gave, but I tried my best. I made you look like funny people…


Words : Paul Byrne

RocknRolla hits Irish cinemas Sept 5th