Scots actor Gerard Butler admits he would like to return to Paisley and gives his view on the independence debate
THE Hollywood superstar may have won hearts Stateside, but his mind is clearly still on Paisley, as he reveals to Scotland Now.
“SOMETIMES, I worry that people are going to find me out and discover that I’m just a Scottish guy who got lucky.”
While there appears little chance of that happening when his star is as high as ever, his words speak volumes about Gerard Butler: the actor loves Scotland and refuses to forget about his Paisley roots, despite his fame.
He might now live in LA since his turn King Leonidas in mythological comic book smash 300 – a movie that put the 43-year-old on the global movie map after years of toil – but for Butler, Scotland will always be his home.
“Ah yes, it’s the most unique place in the world,” he says. “The people, the geography, the spirit – it’s Scotland!”
Growing up, his life was somewhat unconventional.
Born in Paisley and spending most of the first year of his life in Canada, his parents split when Butler was just two, forcing his mother to take the decision to leave Montreal, three children in tow, and move back to Paisley.
At this point, Butler was not even 18 months old, and he’s grow up to appreciate the “big decision” his mother took.
“It couldn’t have been easy for her, especially with three kids, and I have nothing but respect for her for making it. It was tough for her, but she came through it.”
Despite the upheaval, Butler has nothing but happy memories of his childhood.
“Oh, of course. It was tough for my mum but she gave us a great childhood.
"We have a huge Irish Catholic family and there were so many people and so much love around us. We grew up loving being Scottish, so there was a real passion for home and family.”
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It is a feeling that remains, which makes his extended absences from Paisley particularly painful.
“That is the hardest thing about this job and about living in LA.
"In this job - and I am not complaining in any way - there is lots of moving around and not a lot of spare time to maintain the ties and closeness you have to your family and close friends.”
It is not a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ - for Butler, his family is always at the forefront of his thoughts.
“But no matter what I am doing, I am always thinking about my family back home.
"They mean everything to me. Both of my sisters are married so I have four nieces who I really try to stay close to as they grow up.
"It can be tough, but it makes the time we do get together back in Scotland all the more special. I like to spend my birthday back home with my family, and it is always a beautiful thing for me.”
Butler, in case you haven’t noticed, is a handsome man - he has dated Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel and Cameron Diaz - but he puts much of his success with the ladies down to his Scottish accent.
“I think that in America, the Scottish accent does play quite well, and has an effect on women over there, so I try to use that to my advantage!” he says with a knowing smile.
“But I do try to tell myself that it is not the accent, it is my natural charm that wins people over!"
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That said, his west Scotland brogue is not quite as pronounced as it once was.
“No, it’s not; it’s not what it used to be. It is nowhere near as strong as it was.
"I’ve been living away for such a long time now that the Americans have made it a lot milder. I am blaming them, anyway!
“I don’t get as many people commenting on my accent as I used to, that’s for sure.
"But I can still ham it up when I want to. And I can still tell someone they are a sweet wee lass’ and get away with it.”
Like every Scot across the globe, Butler is well immersed in arguably the hottest topic on people’s lips this year - the independence referendum.
So where does this (mostly) exiled Scot stand on the big issue? His uncertain tone underlies his reticent words.
“I must admit I am not totally sure about independence,” he says.
“I have yet to be convinced that it will work in our best interests. I used to be totally pro-independence, I was massively in favour of it, but now my feeling is that we should be about coming together rather than separating ourselves.
“There are some things that could be done without independence. I think separate taxation would help, and giving more responsibility to local government as well. I think that would be a smart move.
"But as for Scottish independence - I am not sure it would be a good move.”
Regardless of whether the public back Alex Salmond’s grand plan this September or not, in future the people of Scotland could well find themselves with one more famous neighbour moving in permanently - one Gerrard Butler.
“That is my ultimate plan. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in LA, and Dubai and Australia too – they’re amazing places to spend time in, and in the short term they are exactly what I’m after, but in the end I want to move back to Scotland, back to my roots.”
Back to Paisley?
“Yes, that is what I want. I can see that happening very easily. Whenever I go home, I always go back to LA feeling more like myself… that little bit more bullish. Life in LA can be a bit soft, so I like to come back with a bit of Scottish attitude!
“But I will always think Scotland is home. That is my where my roots are and always will be. I always get that ‘feeling’ when I arrive back, without fail”.
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