Heroic Feats and Bitter Tears
Mr. Butler, we’ve all had a grueling 2020. Has there been an especially gratifying moment for you in these months?
Gerard Butler: I went to Greece and ran the Olympic torch to Sparta. I thought: Are you kidding me? Me, this little boy from Scotland who grew up on a council estate, and suddenly I’m running the Olympic torch. It was amazing. I love Greece and I love the Greeks. I have a major connection to the country because of my film 300, in which I played King Leonidas of Sparta. I was even given the keys to the city. The government said they didn’t want any big crowds, but then something like ten thousand turned out.
But then . . .
. . . they cancelled the Olympics the next day. So I have the dubious honor of being the only person to run the Olympic torch when it was cancelled and being the last person to run it. And then Trump shut down America because of the pandemic and I couldn’t fly from Europe into the States because I’m not a resident.
But you’re used to dealing with tough situations. At least that’s the take based on your roles.
Yeah, if somebody gives me the lines and then people say “action” and “cut” and tell everybody else where to go, then I’m okay. But seriously, I am pretty good in challenging and dangerous situations. I have helped a couple of people out. And I actually earned an award for bravery.
"But seriously, I am pretty good in challenging and dangerous situations. I have helped a couple of people out. And I actually earned an award for bravery."
I once saved a kid from drowning. It was a fast river, very cold. He had gone under and I had to go in and swim and pull him out. Another time, I came upon a truck that was on fire. I stopped a bus, got a fire extinguisher and put the fire out. And it was only later – after I’d had a couple of beers – that my stepfather explained to me that the thing could have exploded.
Do you like such extreme experiences?
Not at any price. Sometimes I create situations because of my own stupidity. I had a motorcycle accident where I broke my bones in my foot and tore my meniscus. I couldn’t walk for four days. Another time I got taken down by some big waves and they had to take me out and jumpstart my heart. I had to fight through a lot of stuff in my life, maybe the next part is finding how to not get into those situations in the first place: the way of the peaceful warrior.
You sound relatively at ease, almost self-deprecating, when you say that . . .
I have spent a lot of time contemplating difficult situations, and I ask myself if I can live up to the man I am in my movies. I love it when I play a hero, and maybe I can inspire people to be heroes in their own lives. Myself, I feel mentally and emotionally more prepared. I’ve never really bought into all the fear. But I also think, “What else is there?” Perhaps we have all spent too much time working. At the end of my life, will the only thing left be a long IMDb page?
"I had to fight through a lot of stuff in my life, maybe the next part is finding how to not get into those situations in the first place: the way of the peaceful warrior."
Do you have any other skills?
You have obviously never seen my belly wobble. I do a mean belly wobble!
Tempting thought. Speaking of which: You’re known as quite the ladies’ man . . .
Oh my God, yeah. Listen, I had that going on for a while, but I’m past that. I’m nowhere near to being the wild kid that I once was. Sometimes I’m just sitting there in my bed reading a book and I think: I wish they could see me now. That crazy womanizing Gerard Butler is in bed reading a book.
So we’ve got the wrong image of you?
Listen, I’m no angel but at the same time I’m no devil either. That kind of life has its appeal, but there are other ways to be. At some point it’s about accepting who you are.
"You have obviously never seen my belly wobble. I do a mean belly wobble!"
What qualities does a woman you want to settle down with have to have? Are there specific criteria?
I don’t have a check list where I have things written down and I have to cross them out, if that’s what you mean.
Okay, to be honest, I probably do have a list like that, but not one that I tick off one by one. There are things that I want to see in a woman. Obviously, some things are important to you, which might be an attribute on some subconscious check list.
Can’t you give us a couple of examples?