Gerard Butler Interview, PS I Love You

Posted by: Sheila Roberts

MoviesOnline recently sat down with Gerard Butler at the Los Angeles press day to talk about his new film, “P.S. I Love You,” directed by Oscar nominee Richard LaGravenese and starring two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Boys Don’t Cry”), Lisa Kudrow (TV’s “Friends”), Harry Connick, Jr. (“Bug,” TV’s “Will & Grace”), Gina Gershon (TV’s “Ugly Betty”), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Academy Award winner Kathy Bates (“Misery”).

Holly Kennedy (Hilary Swank) is beautiful, smart, and married to the love of her life—a passionate, funny and impetuous Irishman named Gerry (Gerard Butler). So when Gerry's life is taken by an illness, it takes the life out of Holly. The only one who can help her is the person who is no longer there. Nobody knows Holly better than Gerry. So it's a good thing he planned ahead.

Before he died, Gerry wrote Holly a series of letters that will guide her, not only through her grief but in rediscovering herself. The first message arrives on Holly’s 30th birthday in the form of a cake and, to her utter shock, a tape recording from Gerry, who proceeds to order her to get out and "celebrate herself." In the weeks and months that follow, more letters from Gerry are delivered in surprising ways, each sending her on a new adventure and each signing off in the same way: P.S. I Love You.

Holly's mother (Kathy Bates) and best friends, Sharon (Gina Gershon) and Denise (Lisa Kudrow), begin to worry that Gerry's letters are keeping Holly tied to the past, but, in fact, each letter is pushing her further into a new future. With Gerry's words as her guide, Holly embarks on a touching, exciting and often hilarious journey of rediscovery in a story about marriage, friendship and how a love so strong can turn the finality of death into a new beginning for life.

Gerard Butler has distinguished himself as a leading man on the stage and screen in both the United States and Great Britain. Earlier in 2007, Butler starred as the Spartan King Leonidas in Zack Snyder’s blockbuster actioner “300,” which broke box office records in its opening weekend on its way to earning more than $450 million worldwide.

Butler also stars in a wide range of upcoming projects. He just completed work on two films due out in 2008: Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy “RocknRolla,” with Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and Jeremy Piven; and the fantasy adventure “Nim’s Island,” in which he stars with Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin. He is currently filming the thriller “Game,” with Michael C. Hall. And despite his denials to the contrary, there are persistent rumors his next role may be Sabertooth in Gavin Hood’s upcoming “Wolverine.”

Born in Scotland, Butler made his stage debut at the age of 12 in the musical “Oliver!” at Glasgow’s famous Kings Theatre. As a young man, his dreams of acting were temporarily deterred and he went on to study law for seven years before returning to the stage in London. In 1996, he landed the lead role in the acclaimed stage production of “Trainspotting.” He later starred on the London stage in such plays as “Snatch” and the Donmar Warehouse production of Tennessee Williams’ “Suddenly Last Summer,” opposite Rachel Weisz.

In 1997, Butler made his feature film debut in John Madden’s award-winning drama “Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown,” starring Judi Dench. His early film work also includes “Fast Food,” “One More Kiss,” the 1999 screen adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” and “Harrison’s Flowers.”

In 2004, Butler won the coveted title role in the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera.” He also earned critical acclaim for his work opposite Emily Mortimer in the independent feature “Dear Frankie,” which screened at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. Butler’s other film credits include “Beowulf & Grendel,” “The Game of Their Lives,” “Timeline,” “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” and “Reign of Fire.” 

Gerard Butler is a super nice guy and we really appreciated his time. Here’s what he had to tell us about his new movie, “P.S. I Love You”:

Q: How did the opening battle sequence of this film compare with 300?

GERARD BUTLER: Well, there were less troops to rally, although sometimes I think rallying myself is more difficult than rallying other people. This scene’s a real mixture because on the one hand we had great chemistry together, and a lot of things fell into place immediately, I was amazed how we played off each other, but on the other side of that, this has got to be one of the longest opening scenes in a modern movie. It’s like 15 minutes long, and to try and keep that going and justify that length of scene, because your average scene is two minutes maybe, this was ridiculous, so to try and keep it with actions, and movement and emotion and mood and tempo, to allow it to be that long without getting bored, that was the challenge. That was much more finessing. And then to do that and still keep it natural and keep that spark and that chemistry that we had alive and fresh, that was a challenge.

Q: When do you think it’s the right time to get back into the dating game after you’ve lost someone?

GERARD BUTLER: (he laughs) Well, my moral opinion on this is – when is the right time to get back into it, I don’t know, I’ve never been in that situation and I think that it probably depends on the person. There’s a friend of my mom’s who died who had the most amazing relationship with her husband, they were one of the most incredible marriages and he married within six months of her dying, which was kind of a little weird, but everybody else who understood that in a way that he was just filling it with a friend, and yet with other people it would be five, ten years, I think it just depends on the person, you can’t ever have a rule for that.

Q: We know you sing, but you had to play guitar for this. Did you actually fall asleep practicing in front of a mirror?

GERARD BUTLER: I did, I did, but that was the heroin though. It wasn’t heroin by the way, but actually think it was an Ambien but I was playing – I’m obsessive, right, and I’m not a guitar player and I often found the best way to describe for me trying to learn to play the guitar and sing a song and then act in any way, I could never do all three. I could do two, yeah, I could only do two. I could either do this and move around where they told me to but not get the words right, or I could sing the words and move but then the notes would be a mess, I could never quite get all three. And I practiced and practiced and practiced, and the fellow who was teaching me kept saying, ‘Just make it simple, just go with two or three notes,’ but I wanted to get every note in the song. And I just wouldn’t give it up, and I would just play all the time, all the time, and I remember standing in front of the mirror one night, and I was just like (feigns falling asleep) and I found myself collapsing, and I did it like three times, I’m like (sleeps), and then I thought I should go to bed. And I still fucked it up.

Q: This has been a pretty good year for you. What are the top three moments that you’ve had?

GERARD BUTLER: (he laughs) There was definitely Amsterdam (everyone laughs). Wow, that’s a good question actually. I wish I had more time to think about it though because there have been a lot of highlights this year. I would say number one would probably be the night that 300 opened and we kind of jumped from cinema to cinema, there were like 25 of us, agents and the producers and all the people from the film, jumping into the back of every cinema, and to see how busy they were, and to see the lines, and suddenly everyone I’d ever met calling, ‘We can’t even get in to see this damn movie,’ and they were getting these emails literally going $10 million, $15 million, $18 million, $19 million, the next day, $25, $29, $31, $35, $40, $50, $60, $70, for it to keep going like that is something that I’d never experienced, especially this isn’t a franchise, it wasn’t a Superman or a Pirates, and also it was a film that I was in, this doesn’t happen. [laughs] So that was a highlight of my career, and what was amazing was, I was surrounded by some very serious producers who I could tell this had never happened to them before either. I was experiencing something that was also a highlight in a lot of their lives. So there was that – I’m trying to think what else there was – so much has happened to me this year. Oh God, you know what, it took me long enough to explain that one, that was pretty amazing. It was a good question though.

Q: Speaking of 300, Zack said you were a big part of its success, and he’s talked about possibly having you be in his Watchmen movie playing the Pirate, is that actually going to be happening?

GERARD BUTLER: You know, I’ll tell you, I don’t know. Zack’s crazy, so am I, so it’s funny because – there’s a man who I set in gear too because I was a big part of 300 but everything – that’s Zack’s movie, it was his genius that made 300 what it was and it was a great marriage between the two of us, and I was in a great position where I’d love to have jumped into the Watchmen and done something but I’d plenty to be doing on my own as well, and I’ve already done the graphic novel film so for me not to go and do another one is fine, but I would love to work with Zack again. But that role has been on and off and on and off, and the funny thing is we haven’t even talked about it for a while but I keep hearing rumors, Zack’s going to give you a call, but I know he’s busy, but it’s like one minute the role was cut because of budget, then it was back in, then it was cut, so I keep hearing, ‘He’s going to call you, oh, maybe not. He’s going to call you.’ And then my stuntman who’s on my film, the one in New Mexico, just went up there, he just text me and said, ‘Oh Zack’s giving you a call because he wants you to do that role.’ So I have no idea. I think right now they’re so caught up with the main body of the film that I guess they probably don’t even know if they’re going to do that or not, but if my schedule permits, because I don’t finish my film until the end of January, but I think they’re still going, so if it’s around and I do it, I’d love to go up there – it would be really cool to get back on a set with Zack.

Q: It’s great to see you get bigger projects and more profile, will this spoil you? Will you ever do something like Dear Frankie again, which is one of my favorite movies?

GERARD BUTLER: No. I’m done with the low budgets (everyone laughs) Absolutely, I mean, I hope so. You know, Nim’s Island to an extent, and it’s a bigger budget, but it’s – for me in some ways it’s quite a square film, it’s a children’s film, it’s a lot of fun and it’s beautiful, but it’s no 300. Even this movie to an extent, it’s so the opposite, if I read this script and the budget for this film had been $500,000 I’d still have done it, because I go by the script and the character, and you have your paydays and then you have your ones that aren’t paydays, and to be honest the first three movies I did after 300, none of them were really paydays for me. There’s Guy Ritchie’s film, which is definitely not a payday, and even Nim’s Island because it wasn’t my movie, and they’re all fine but there was a point where I said, ‘I’ve got to start thinking about that a little more.’ So I would absolutely go back. At the end of the day I can survive, I make enough to get by, and that’s my sustenance anyway, to do that. My sustenance is not just to do the smaller ones, it’s to do them all, it’s to get a chance to do the bigger ones, the smaller ones, the medium ones, the comedies, the dramas, the action, the thriller. It’s as much to keep myself interested and to keep trying new things all the time.

Q: Which do you prefer, action or romantic comedy?

GERARD BUTLER: There’s things I prefer about both. Normally when I’m doing action I think I prefer comedy, and when I’m doing comedy I think I prefer action. I think that as much as I’m loving – I’m doing an action movie right now, ‘Game,’ and in terms of – you don’t get much more fun than the action in that because it’s all encompassing, it’s everywhere, you’re surrounded by it, explosions, gunfire, and just like 300 it’s the best set up, none of it is gratuitous because it’s all – the plot sets it up perfectly. It’s set in a game, you have to see all this. Just like in 300, it’s like, look, here’s 300 bad-asses, but let’s put them against an army of a million, it’s the perfect set up for the most kick-ass battle you’ve ever seen. Likewise, in a way, so is Game. But that’s cool, but while I’m doing it, I’m like I definitely don’t want to do that kind of stuff forever, and yet I’m having the best time on it, I really am, but it’s hard work, it’s hard work and you miss the chance to sit down and do scenes where you’re just having a regular conversation, you’re getting the chance to be funny. Just like as a human being, I wouldn’t want to work every day of my life, I want to have some leisure time, I want to have some sexy time, I want to have some – you know, you want to be able to experience all the parts of your psyche and all the parts of humanity and life, and it’s like that in films, I want to be able to do all the different areas, you know. I couldn’t just do acting.

Q: It was so important that you and Hilary had some chemistry in this, what did you do to get some sparks going? Did you have any rehearsals?

GERARD BUTLER: Yeah we had rehearsal. Well, we had rehearsal and we hung out. I actually though don’t think that it was something we really had to work at. If we had to work at it maybe we would have, but we never had to do that, we have a great spark together and also we’re both, I mean – she’s a pretty amazing actress, so maybe she – you know, I felt we actually had it, maybe she had to play it a little bit, I don’t know. I feel that we have great chemistry together, so that part of it is just you have. I know for me, before I went in, I made a decision that I was going to get out of that leading man head you get into, which is not – I’m not a diva in any way, I think I’m very down to earth, but when you’re playing the title role in a film or the lead in it is a huge role, you can’t help but get caught up in your own head, and sometimes you just want to throw that away, and I thought, ‘I’m going to try the opposite,’ which was throw my focus completely onto Hilary and Richard, and I said that to Richard when I met him, I said I’m just going to go, ‘How are you doing today? And how’s Hilary doing?’ And I really tried that, and I had so much fun doing the movie, taking all the pressure off myself, and I felt no pressure in my performance, I felt so relaxed and at ease, and I know that, if anything, that just opened up more of a trust in Hilary as well.

Q: It looked like you were having fun

GERARD BUTLER: Yeah, that’s exactly it. I knew that she wasn’t out to get me, I wasn’t out to get her. We were just having fun and making something that we both loved.

Q: The rumor is that you’re going to be playing Sabertooth in Wolverine, are you looking forward to fighting Wolverine?

GERARD BUTLER: It’s not true. I haven’t even met on it, I haven’t spoken to anybody and I haven’t seen a script. And I think I’m working when it’s going on, so it’s not –

Q: If they were to offer it to you, would you be interested in doing it?

GERARD BUTLER: Listen, I’d be interested in anything up until I read a script.

“P.S. I Love You” opens in theaters on December 21st.

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