Cheeky Sits Down with Gerard Butler
And He's Just as Good Looking in Person...
by michelle menaker
Get ready for Gerard Butler’s new movie Machine Gun Preacher, in theatres September 30. The Scottish actor portrays the real-life Sam Childers who used to be a drug-dealing criminal, but eventually finds his calling saving hundreds of orphans in Africa. Butler does a tremendous job in this film and I had the chance to ask him more about it. By the way, ladies, he’s just as good looking in person!
Cheeky Shelly and the one-and-only Mr. Butler
Cheeky: Since this is a true story, what kind of research did you have to do to prepare for the role?
Gerard Butler: I spent time with Sam, spent time with his family, went and visited where he lived, watched him preach. Then I spent 24/7, well maybe not 24/7, but a lot of time with his interviews because he’s done a lot of interviews. Sam loves to talk as do I. Just listening to him and getting a sense of him. And then there’s the creation you have to make which isn’t just your version of Sam, so I began studying other preachers even and motorcycle gangs and stuff like that to get a wider picture because, of course, I hadn’t seen him in his gang days.
Cheeky: What about getting rid of your Scottish accent for the role?
GB: It takes work. It’s doable, but it takes work. You normally do your regular American accent, but Sam don’t talk like that. He’s got a much thicker accent and it sounds all Southern even though it’s not, so you want to work at the level that you can do it and still feel natural and still recreate this very specific character. I did a lot of work listening to Sam, and I did dialect sessions every day.
Cheeky: There’s a lot of harsh scenes in this film with killing and even you doing drugs. How do you get in the right mindset to do those types of things?
GB: This was a tough movie to take on and do. I think for any actor it’s exciting to take on that challenge, but you got to be ready to go dark. This is a guy who had breakdowns, who went to the darkest places with drugs, had serious family issues and then had a massive breakdown to the point of suicide. I’ve never had a role - and there aren’t many roles I think - where you can go through this whole gamut of emotions. I use many things, you know, personal experience, my own memory and then the power of the story, and I also walked around with a book full of pictures taken from Sudan which was very heavy, very shocking and would always bring me right back to what this story was about. It kind of drove me a little mad as well because as the movie went on, you kind of get down and down and heavier into it.
Cheeky: You do so many different types of roles with romantic comedies, animated films and so forth. How do you choose which you’re going to do?
GB: I always like to try and move into new territory. There are only so many new territories you can move into, but just not to repeat myself very often. I see them all almost as different leagues. It’s like, yeah, you’re doing well in the action league so let me jump into comedy and see how I do there. And musicals, playing the Phantom, a very serious drama, and learn from each of them and it gives you a chance to constantly be excited by each story.
Cheeky: You rank up there now with the A-List actors. What are the best and worst things that come along with that?
GB: I think the worst part would be the paparazzi. They really get in the way; they’re a bit of a nightmare. And they happily get in the way….the second you leave your house, that’s it, they follow you anywhere….so that’s a pain. But to be honest, I mustn’t grumble because I love what I do. The thing that I like the most is acting. I love telling stories. The more successful you become, the more access you have to great material, great directors, other actors.
Cheeky: I came across this picture of you wearing a Blackhawks Championship hat while on a break from filming Machine Gun Preacher! Are you a Blackhawks or a Chicago sports fan?
GB: Not really, to be honest. I think I had been given that by a friend of mine from Chicago as a present and I really like the hat. I remember going, “This is a cool hat!” I think I have a whole bunch of Chicago hats. I have Cubs hats, Bears hats, so I really should be a Chicago-everything fan because all my favorite hats are Chicago hats.
What’s your favorite Gerard Butler film? What type of film would you like to see Gerard in next?