Gerard Butler: I’m a guy who struggles through life like the next guy
Scottish actor Gerard Butler talks about his new film Playing For Keeps, feeling paternal and learning from his mistakes.
What did you think of Rod Stewart crying when Celtic beat Barcelona last month?
It was tears of joy and I cried too. It was one of the most exciting games I’ve watched. I said to my buddy: ‘Feel my heart right now!’ It was about 180 per minute, the ending was so exciting.
You trained for surfing movie Chasing Mavericks and for Playing For Keeps.
Unfortunately, I seem to choose movies that require me to do a bit of extra work, so if it’s a fighting movie like 300 or a surfing movie or football, then, yeah, I normally undertake some special training. For 300 I was doing six hours every day.
Do you keep up that sort of routine?
I don’t. I chill and go lay on an island.
In Playing For Keeps did you draw on real characters – George Best maybe?
I did think of George Best but when I grew up there were plenty of Scottish players known for their off-the-pitch antics, the Scotland team especially. Half of them went missing one night when they got drunk, went out on a rowing boat and lost the oars. I love that quote of George Best’s: ‘I spent all my money on women and booze. And the rest I just squandered.’ There’s a story about Georgebeing in this hotel room with an ex-Miss World and a lot of champagne. The waiter comes to bring him more champagne and says: ‘Where did it all go wrong, Mr Best?’ Which George apparently found very funny because he was in bed with an ex-Miss World in an amazing hotel suite with amazing champagne.
Did the film’s theme of being a better man resonate?
That’s why I did it, I think. I’m a guy who struggles through life like the next guy. There’s a lot of similarity between my character George’s journey and the journey of the actor and maybe even my journey; somebody who is in the spotlight and has to fight a little harder to get past that and find what is deeper and meaningful in life.
You play a dad. Do you get paternal?
Yeah, yeah. Whenever I hang out with cool kids. If I hang out with a little brat, I think: ‘Thank Christ I’m not a dad.’ But the kid in this film, Noah, is truly an amazing child. When I was hanging out with Noah, I’d go: ‘Oh God, I’d love to have a kid like this. How cool to have this relationship.’ And listen, at some point I would like to have a kid, no doubt about it but I’m just going along and doing my thing.
Are you a live-for-the-moment kind of guy?
Somebody said to me once: ‘You’ve got one foot in tomorrow, and one foot in yesterday, and you’re p***ing on today.’ And I was like: ‘Yeah I guess that’s true.’
Is that because you struggle with your job of movie star and heart-throb?
I remember the weekend 300 came out and obviously it was a big success. But that was one of the toughest weekends of my life. I must have got 80 or 90 phone calls: ‘Congratulations!’ And I didn’t know how to deal with it. Having friends who have quickly come into success, you see them having the same kind of reaction, where you think: ‘I should feel this right now but I don’t.’ And then over time, you appreciate what’s happened. You learn to deal with it and go: ‘Wow, people loved that and I deserve a bit of success,’ but I think there is this part of you that feels like a fraud.
Would you rate a mention in Heat’s Nice Celebrities corner?
I am nice with fans and people to a fault, and you won’t find me hidden away in the darkest recesses in the VIP room speaking to one person. I will speak to everybody and take photos with everybody but sometimes I can be grabbed by five people at the same time, and I’m in the middle of a conversation with you. There’s a time where you go: ‘Excuse me, please don’t be rude.’ It’s learning a way of being nice but containing your energy.
Any regrets about ending a relationship or not pursuing one?
Oh my God, yeah. I think I’ve been propelled through life from one mistake to another. I can look back and say in my philosophical mode that I needed to make those mistakes and I learnt from all of them. But overall I do think that whatever happens is supposed to happen.
So you’re ready to settle down?
I think I’ve had that going on for a while now. I’m not saying I don’t like to have my fun but I’m nowhere near the wild kid that I once was. Sometimes you’re sitting there, doing your thing. Maybe you’re alone in bed reading your book and thinking: ‘I wish they could see me now! The crazy f***ing womanising Gerard Butler is in bed reading.’
Playing For Keeps is out Jan 1.