Gerard Butler On Training And Work/Life Balance
Gerard Butler On What Motivates Him To Train Five Times A Week
What maketh the man? That’s the premise behind The Man I Am Today, an AskMen series where we ask the world's most inspiring men how they got here. This week: Scotland's toughest export since Irn Bru.
Best known for his muscular portrayal of King Leonidas in 300, Gerard Butler has been a Hollywood go-to when it comes to roles requiring serious brawn and f**k-with-me-not attitude.
His 300 physique may be iconic, but Butler is more than a snarling six-pack. This year saw him carry action films Gods of Egypt and London Has Fallen, but the 47-year-old Scot has also tried his hand as a leading man in romantic comedies The Ugly Truth with Katherine Heigl and The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston. We'll be seeing more of him next year in sci-fi action film Geostorm and thriller Hunter Killer.
Off the big screen, Butler (who trained as a lawyer) is also a surfer and the current face of the award-winning fragrance BOSS Bottled. He's a busy man. So when AskMen caught up with him, we asked him how he manages it all (while still training five times a week), what motivates him and why growing up as a guy can be difficult.
What does your typical morning routine look like?
I live out in Malibu so if I can, I get a a surf in, normally a training session and again, if I have time, I’ll do a little 10-minute meditation. And then maybe a bit of reading, like catch up on the news, or get on my bike as well. Going for a little bike ride, maybe along the PCH [Pacific Coast Highway] or up in The [Hollywood] Hills.
You've got a free day to yourself. What do you do?
A free day for me can take on a million different forms. It could involve taking a lesson in a helicopter, going surfing, sitting in my house in Malibu which is such an awesome space to hang out in because its surrounded by sycamore trees and eucalyptus trees and oak trees. That to me is my favourite, I can disconnect from reality and be in nature.
How often do you exercise and why do you do it?
I do it for many different reasons and probably 4-5 times a week. Sometimes it’s part of a gym routine and sometimes it’s something fun, whether it’s surfing or biking or a hike. I do it because it keeps me fit and keeps me in a good mental state, or I do it for film roles. That’s been a huge motivator for me to have a good body ...I have to or I’m gonna look ridiculous.
What’s your idea of a good work/life balance?
I think acting is one of the hardest careers to have a good work/life balance because when I’m working, whether I’m working hard or not, I’m still doing 12-14 hours a day and when you’re doing press it’s a lot of travelling as well.
It’s perhaps understanding the lack of balance that you have from time to time and making the most of your time off and sometimes that means forcing yourself to chill and do nothing and making sure that you’re connecting with friends or getting away with nature.
I think that’s probably a good way to look at it – when I’m making a movie it can be three months of six days a week. One of my movies I was working 16 hours a day so… okay …there ain’t a lot of balance in this career [laughs].
It’s easy in this career to say yes. The word 'yes' is three letters yet it can mean six months' commitment and sometimes you read a script and go, 'Oh I love this, YES.' Okay, well that actually means eight weeks training, three months filming and two months doing press. A lot of it is perhaps in the pre-planning that you organise that balance because once you’re in, you’re in.
Learning how to say no is not something that I’m known for [laughs].
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?
Five years studying law for me was very difficult because it wasn’t my inspiration, it wasn’t something that truly excited me. I spent five years doing an Honours Degree and getting a diploma and doing legal practice; it was a lot to get through that because I was always questioning it, [wondering] why am I doing this? But when you’ve spent three or four years at something, you think, 'What's one more year'... I’m not a quitter.
What’s guaranteed to make you laugh?
Watching someone make a fool of themselves in a sweet way, like tripping up if they don’t hurt themselves. So you know, for instance, Trigger Happy which is an old show with Dom Joly which is watching people in ridiculous situations. That show makes me laugh more than any other show on the planet. Either that or maybe Faulty Towers or Flight of the Concords.
What trait do you most admire in people?
Decency and compassion. When you see that in somebody and they’re not trying to show it to you, but you see something that they do. I really love that, it’s very moving and touching and kind of life-affirming.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Probably my perfectionism. I don’t mean that I do things perfectly but I’m a perfectionist and I go a bit crazy at times and I should just let it go, it doesn’t matter. Much as that can drive you forward, it can also cause a huge amount of anxiety that isn’t necessary, it’s a waste of energy.
What’s your definition of a good party?
I think it’s just a feeling. You walk into a place, whether it’s a house party or an event and you feel good and excited. There’s a good energy.
Sometimes you walk into a party that you think is perhaps not that good and you don’t give it a chance and it’s more your own kind of insecurities or nervousness or you’re just feeling out of place. Or you’re with people and you think, 'these people are a nightmare' and then 10-15 minutes later you start having conversations with one or two of them and you think, 'actually this guy's awesome' or 'she’s super cool' and you end up having a great time. So a lot of it I think is just about sitting with it and being open.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from women?
At the end of the day, they just need a hug or for you to tell them you love them, no matter how crazy they’re being [laughs]. Just give them a big hug and tell them it’s gonna be alright.
[Also] the value of honesty. Growing up as a guy you’re so defensive and fearful and often to really be honest and totally authentic can sometimes be hard. But when you do it, you see the value and the appreciation of that – and in a relationship and at a deeper level, the power of that.
Gerard Butler is the face of the iconic, award winning BOSS Bottled fragrance (RRP £45.00 for 50ml), now also available in BOSS Bottled Intense Eau De Parfum (RRP £47.00 for 50ml) both available from Debenhams stores nationwide.