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 Moviefone Interview - Gerard Butler Talks Dragons, Career Choices and '300'

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PostSubject: Moviefone Interview - Gerard Butler Talks Dragons, Career Choices and '300'   Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:05 pm

Gerard Butler Talks Dragons, Career Choices and '300'
March 23, 2010
By: Jenna BuschComments (0) PRINT EMAIL MORE You know an interview is going to be fun when you walk into the room and the talent starts interviewing you. Well that's just what happened when I spoke to the very charming Gerard Butler about his role as the Viking Stoick in the new animated adventure 'How to Train Your Dragon.'

When we finally switched roles, I asked him about the film, finding his inner-Viking and his oft-ridiculed career choices since slicing and dicing his way onto the A-list in that massive 2006 hit '300.' For the record, Butler says that while he doesn't really want to do a role that required the amount of gym time '300' did, he wouldn't be opposed to another film in that genre. Someone please get this man a good action script, pronto.

In the meantime, Butler his happy to entertain the kiddies -- and teens and adults -- in the 3D 'Dragon,' which marks the actor's second release in as many weeks (following 'The Bounty Hunter,' his war-of-the-roses actioner with Jennifer Aniston). He also gives us a sneak peek at his upcoming Farrelly Brothers short. We have yet to hear a name, but we do know that Butler plays a particularly foul-mouthed leprechaun. Yeah, that's exactly what you think of when you look at Gerard Butler. A tiny mythical Irishman.

So how did you get involved in 'How to Train Your Dragon'?
It's funny, because for years, even before I was acting, when I watched movies like 'Shrek' and 'A Bug's Life' and 'Antz' ... a lot of these movies were just my favorites. You would see these movies and go, how do they do that? How do you get chosen for that? And how much fun to be that voice? You could just tell that those people were having a lot of fun. But it's not something that I actively pursued. It was shortly after '300' came out, and I think that they were obviously thinking, well, who better to play this Viking chief, this big, tough, macho warrior, than Gerry Butler? So they came to me, and I met the guys and had a look at the story and renderings and the whole beast of the project and I thought, "Oh, I've got to do this!"

I know many animated movies don't put the actors in the same room, though I've heard that trend is changing of late. Were you working by yourself?
I was mostly by myself, but there were a couple of sessions that I did with Craig Ferguson and Jay Baruchel when we were all together. That was a serious blast and it did make a big difference, because it was the only time where you could calibrate what everyone else was doing. When I first saw the movie, I loved it. My only problem was with me. And I know that that is probably a regular thing when actors listen to their own voice, but hearing every other actor in the movie, the tone of the movie and the mood, there was a lot more I could do. There were many more levels that I could bring in. And I never thought this would happen, but I thought that my Scottish accent wasn't strong enough. So I went back in and I re-voiced probably 80-90 percent of my stuff. And then it felt like I was working with the people around me because I was recording to the movie. Whereas, before you couldn't do it to the movie ... now I'm 10 times happier with my performance, and it fits with the movie. So when I saw the final version, I was blown away in every department. I was really happy with what I did -- the movie was finished, I saw it in 3D. It's one of those movies that you very rarely have in your career, that I've very rarely had in my career, where you're surrounded by friends and you stand up and you are beaming, and that excitement is just brimming over. And you can see it amongst your friends. I had it in '300'. I had it in 'Dear Frankie.' You very rarely get it, but when you do, you think, that's why I'm in this business.

Did you read the books?
I read the books, but what happened was, when they changed directors ... initially we had another director, but that changed when they brought in [Chris Sanders] and [Dean DeBlois]. The story changed in terms of age and dynamic and the dragon became different. The boy became very different and it was suddenly more for teens and grownups. But still, by the way, something that kids would appreciate. But the age moved up in a way ... it's a little less cutesy. But I had read the original book.

I know you played a Viking before, but did you do any research on them?
I would be lying if I said, yeah I went back out to Iceland or Sweden with all my Viking books. It's just a character that I know how to play. Did I study the character? Yeah. Did I go ahead and do any extra research on Vikingness? No. [Laughs] I played various types of warriors from Attila the Hun to Leonidas to ['Beowulf & Grendel'], which was my Viking movie. And it was almost more about learning how to do it in the animated field and entering into that world and how you could do your voice in a slightly stylized way.

So you already have an inner-Viking, is that what you're telling me?
[Laughs] Oh my god! I'm Scottish and we're already a half-Viking nation! The Vikings came down. They took a lot of the Celts back up with them and a lot of them ended up staying and settling. Scotland actually has a lot of pride about it's Viking heritage. We're very similar in character. Having made 'Beowulf' in Iceland, I identify a lot with those guys...

Are you planning on doing any more films like '300' -- the movie that makes every guy feel like they have to do sit-ups?
[Laughs] Who knows. I don't know if I'll ever do a movie where I have to get back the body of that Rodin, statuesque Greek God. Because I was ridiculous in that movie. I don't know if I'd want to or be capable of that again, but would I rule out an historical, kind of mythical action movie? Absolutely not, because I wouldn't rule out anything. I would hope that I would never do the same kind of thing again and again, but when I chose '300,' I didn't think I would go back into that genre. But it came along and it was too enticing and seductive and exciting to ignore. But it's hard not to want to do a movie that has that effect on people because I was excited to hear people react like that. It's probably the highlight of my career to date ... seeing how much that movie inspired and excited people.

And now you're doing Shakespeare with 'Coriolanus.' How is that going?
Well, I haven't started it yet, but they actually started filming yesterday. I had a chat with [Ralph Fiennes] last night, just as he was getting into bed ... it was his first day on set ever, directing a movie. And he was incredibly jazzed about everyone he was working with, because his cinematographer is Barry Ackroyd, who shot 'The Hurt Locker,' who he said is like a god. He's working with Brian Cox and Vanessa Redgrave ... really a fantastic cast. It's a big honor for me to be chosen to appear next to those guys. It's another feather in my bow ... do you say, feather in my bow? Feather in my hat?

Feather in my cap.
[Laughs] Feather in my cap. I always get that wrong. Another quill in your bag. [Laughs] What does a bow have ... string in your bow?

Yes! Quill, string ... I've got to ask you about the 'foul-mouthed leprechaun' you've talked about playing.
Well, it's a little short film that I'm doing which felt like a little fun foray into craziness. The Farrelly brothers are doing a series of short films and Brett Ratner is directing this one. It's with Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott, who basically kidnap a leprechaun. And that's me. And they're using that kind of 'Benjamin Button' technology. They film with a little person and then they filmed with me and put in my leprechaun face. It's crazy! [Laughs] It's me, but I totally look like a leprechaun ... And he is so perverse and violent and foul-mouthed, and the stuff that comes out of his mouth, even me, Gerry Butler, with my reputation of having a dirty, potty mouth, I couldn't even think up these words ... And I play his brother as well, so there are two of me in the movie. They're little gangsters. Disgusting little creatures. [Laughs] They're not the typical leprechauns you would think of. It was incredible fun and I think it's going to be a great little piece of work.

Did they approach you?
They did. First they said, "Do you want to play a little leprechaun in a short film?" And I was like, "Are you being funny?" It was Brett Ratner, actually, and Ryan Cavanaugh, who runs Relativity, and they're both very persuasive people. And at first, I think it was maybe going to be myself and Colin Farrell. I think he was worried that he already has such a bad reputation for having a foul mouth. [Laughs] Whereas, my reputation isn't quite there yet, so I can get away with it. And I also said, I'll do it if I can do both. It felt like more of a challenge. And I love that kind of thing. I did a short film way back in my career where I had to f*** a camel. [Laughs] And one of the reasons I did it was because I thought, this is so insane. And I still try not to let go of the insanity part of this business. It's great to do things that are so wild and different.
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Moviefone Interview - Gerard Butler Talks Dragons, Career Choices and '300'
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