Butler Serves up his Special Brand of Humour at DIFF
16 December 2009 DUBAI — “I came all the way from LA…to sit up here and be blamed!” wept Gerard Butler, his jokey response to difficult questions over his acting capabilities and Hollywood’s demonisation of the Arab world.
The 300 actor charmed his way through a press conference at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) on Tuesday, where he was presented with Variety’s International Star of the Year award.
Faced with excitable hordes of female admirers, the Scotsman proved himself a consummate showman with his silly and self-deprecating humour.
The English to Arabic interpreter proved his comic foil throughout, with Butler speeding up his answers to see if she could keep up, and asking her to translate his mock-weeping and a bout of thick Scottish into Arabic.
“Trust me, if it were up to me I’d stick to the Scottish accent,” he said about regularly portraying American characters on screen. “That’s actually one of the few downsides of acting: I feel like I’ve lost a lot of my accent.”
When asked about widespread press speculation of a relationship with Priyanka Chopra, sparked on his recent trip to India, Butler responded: “It’s because they kept seeing us naked together!” before hastily adding that he was joking. “This is why I’m a media person’s nightmare. I’m going to get sent back for my tenth media training course,” he said. The actor, who this year starred in rom-com The Ugly Truth opposite Katherine Heigl and sci-fi flick Gamer, spoke of his admiration for the country.
“India is definitely one of my top two or three places on the planet,” he said. “I went to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, the backwaters of Kerala and the Himalayas on a motorbike. In Bombay, Priyanka threw a party for me and my friends, then two days later Shah Rukh Khan threw us a party. I’ve never felt so loved!”
Elsewhere during his whistlestop trip to Dubai, the 40-year-old spoke about getting fired a week before qualifying to become a lawyer in his 20s (“it left me open to the universe to have its wicked way with me”) and attracting the gossipmongers, who besides Chopra have also linked him to Jennifer Aniston on the sets of their new movie The Bounty Hunter.
“It goes with the territory,” sighed a resigned Butler. “It really bores me, and it’s a shame because I guess when you get to a certain level, people take that energy and use it in a toxic way.”
The A-lister admitted the only film he would get to see at this year’s DIFF would be James Cameron’s Avatar — screened at the Madinat Jumeirah last night — which he referenced when asked about people who claimed he couldn’t act.
“I didn’t know they said that!” he bantered. “Some people will think ‘Avatar’ is the best movie they’ve ever seen, other people will hate it. In ‘Reign of Fire’, one review would say ‘there were too many dragons in the movie’, then the next review would say ‘there weren’t enough dragons, we hated it’! You can’t win — I do my best and I think I do a good job.”
Butler revealed he is set to star in a Shakespeare film next year, which he will film in Serbia opposite Ralph Fiennes, although he refused to give further details.
“My career has moved ahead very quickly,” said Butler. “I can say I work all these different genres, but it’s still pretty much Hollywood-based. Offer me something! I’m always up for trying out something new.
“I have a multitude of criteria when considering taking a movie — the role, the story, the director, the cast and where you’re going to film. But for me, one of the main things is the underlying or prevailing messages. I feel a big responsibility.”