Parade: Celebrity

Monday, Mar 25 2013 03:00 AM

Gerard Butler on Singing, Fame, and the Secret Service

By Parade Magazine
On a recent sunny weekend morning in Los Angeles, Gerard Butler stands in the middle of a hotel room suite with his fingers pointed in a mock gun pose. Think James Bond in a leather jacket. "I want to be badass all weekend," he smirks, showing off his Scottish accent and his roguish charm. While he's more dashing the menacing in person, he does get his macho fix in his latest film Olympus Has Fallen, which hit theaters this weekend (find your nearest theater here).

As Secret Service agent Mike Banning, he attempts to save the president and the country after the White House succumbs to a foreign attack. Butler flexes and shoots plenty (more on his marksman skills below!), but he also made sure the film didn't run purely on testosterone (i.e. get prepared to get misty-eyed in some parts...). As producer on the film—his fifth project in such a role— he made a crucial change to the scene in which Banning saves the President at the cost of the First Lady's life. "In the original script we were on snowmobiles, she went down, then I had to dive into the water," Butler says. "But the way I came up with, to have to pull the president’s hands off his wife as the car goes over? By the time Banning has to do that, you’re in it, you’re with him. We’re making a hopefully entertaining action movie but we wanted to give it substance.”

He explains that the film's wide allure across gender or other demographic lines comes from the catharsis it provides. “After 9/11, people needed something visceral, to see the guys who did something terrible pay for it. We went to war a few months later but it wasn’t the same," Butler says. "In this movie, the audience gets payback.”

After some sips from a can of sugar-free Red Bull, the 43-year-old actor reflects on his career and what else we can expect from him.

Is he a good shot now?
“Actually I am. For Machine Gun Preacher, I spent time with the Michigan SWAT team and fired a sniper rifle. I hit four in a row at the target’s head. I have it on film, the whole team was screaming since they couldn't believe it. The director framed it and gave it to me as a wrap gift.”

His time with the Secret Service.

"We worked closely with them. A lot of the details in the film came from them but there wasn't enough so we ended up with a mixture of what would really happen and what is great drama. They’re big personalities but when you see them doing their job, they show nothing. But take them away from their job and you see their passion. The service they provide is so in their blood. They are about honor and doing their job properly. It’s 100% failure or 100% success with them.”

He's the ultimate patriot in the film. Has he become an American [gotten his citizenship]?
“I’m Scottish through and through. I would never want to be anything other than Scottish. But I love this country and it’s given me great opportunity. I love everything it stands for and I love American people. Since they made Braveheart, I kind of have to be an American to be a badass. They’ve covered most Scottish badasses.”

On fame and his future.
"It’s nice to be appreciated. When I was a kid, I would watch Paul Newman or Steve McQueen or Richard Burton. You would get so affected and think ‘I want to be that guy.’ I wanted to make people feel like how those guys made me feel. To be honest, I think that’s what still drives me in a lot of ways. To me, it’s all about what makes me in flow: from developing a script, gathering a team together to make a movie. And as a Celt, there is a born strength and dignity. We’re not exotic animals but we’re strong, steadfast, and fighters. We were brought up in similar ideologies [to Americans] of honor and nobility. I’ve always loved playing these heroic characters because I’ve always loved exploring that journey and those values, whether I have them or aspire to have them. I love playing those guys are who I want to be.”

Did he really ask Marilyn Manson and Johnny Depp for advice about starting a band?

"I’ve never had conversations with Marilyn Manson or Johnny Depp. Though any conversation with either of them would be awesome!"

So will we ever get to see him sing again?
“You just have to come to karaoke with me sometime! I would love to do it again [he played the lead role in the 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera]. I actually just got asked to do a musical on Broadway, which would be an interesting idea, but in the end it didn’t work out. So we’ll see. I sing for fun. When you act in movies, it’s a certain way of expressing yourself, and when you act on stage, it’s a another area. Same with singing."

Gerard Butler = dance machine?
“This is how sad I am: after watching This Is It about Michael Jackson, I went to a hip hop one-on-one class. It was just me and this top-notch choreographer. I was running late. I was in the middle of getting ready for Chasing Mavericks so I was this white guy with long hair. The guy was like, in the nicest way, ‘Why are you here?’ [laughs] I was all right. People always used to say I was born with black in my soul. I loved to dance when I was younger. Any other way of changing it up, you feel like you were almost born again.”

Watch the trailer of Olympus Has Fallen below




Related
Gerard Butler: 'I Have a Lot of Fire in Me'

In Depth Interview: Gerard Butler's Biggest Fear? Himself

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