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INT: Gerard Butler

Scottish actor Gerard Butler has appeared in films like DRACULA 2000, ATTILA THE HUN, TOMB RAIDER 2 and the most recent rendition of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. In 300, he plays the lead Spartan King Leonidas and word on the street is that this might be the film that catapults him to "Mel Gibson" status. I sure hope so, he's a great actor! We met up with the charismatic and good humored Butler on the set of 300 and and here's what he had to say about the physically and emotionally draining shoot.

Gerard Butler

Where was your body prior to making this movie and what you had to get to what we get to see in the film?

I let myself go a bit. I remember I got some comments whilst I was on holiday this summer in Italy about being fat. I didn’t even know so I had a lot of work to do. My frame’s always been good since the days of Attila the Hun and I’ve been fortunate in so much that I’ve had various jobs that have required me to work my body, but I was probably at one of my lowest (laughs) ebbs (?) so when I saw the training I think I trained harder for this than for any other role. There were times in the first couple of months when I was training about 6 hours a day. I trained with Mark and with my own trainer too. It's as much mental endurance as physical endurance but it's taken its toll on my body I have to say.

When I spoke to Terrence Stamp, he has played two comic book characters last year and about how to play the character, he said he very seriously took a look at the comic to try and figure out the way the guy moved between panels. I was very impressed. I was wondering if you’ve done anything like that?

Absolutely. I spent a lot of time looking at the comic and so does Zack. We’ve done the same thing. I often find myself referring to the comic just to get a feeling of the mood he’s in, the position he’s in. and how he moves, but then you have to temper it with the fact that this isn’t a comic book, so you have to find that fine line between believability and the comic book. Hyper real and real at the same time. I pay a lot of attention to try to get that, the power of the pen when you read the graphic novel.

We were watching some before lunch, and it looks like it might be some fun up there with the swords and the shields and all that. Is it fun?

It’s great. Listen it’s hard as well at the end of the day. I finished at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, I was aching and my back, shoulders, all killing me. The cape starts to weigh heavy on you after 12 hours. It’s tough, but also so much fun, I wouldn’t change it for the world and I am working with the best stunt men I’ve ever worked with, and not just in terms of their talent, but also in terms of how much they give you of their souls and how encouraging they are, how patient they are. They’re amazing. They make me look ten times as good as I actually am.

Wearing the leather loincloth?

No, codpiece. (Laughs.) I don’t think about it. I’m quite happy to walk around naked any chance I get ‘cause I know that as soon as this movie finishes, it will all disappear again so I might as well enjoy it while I have it.

Did you read the script or the graphic novel first?

I read the script first and I then read the graphic novel 3 days after I read the script. It was about 5 months before I got involved with the film ‘cause the film wasn’t even greenlit at that point, but I had a fantastic phenomenon (?) meeting with Zack where he couldn’t keep me on my chair, I was like jumping like all over the place. I felt like every Spartan should be at least Russell Crowe, in terms of toughness.

After reading the script, where you surprised by the look of it, like when you actually saw …?

Yes, I didn’t realize at first that it was all filming in a studio. But when I saw the teaser, it’s like….breaks off. The teaser explains the action more than anything, and when I saw that, after I had a great meeting with Zack, I wanted to take it to so many places that I wanted it to go. There are certain films, they choose you, but I think I chose this one.

In a film like Phantom you were able to physically touch the sets. Here there’s hardly nothing due to the green screen. Talk about that as an actor...

This is definitely more challenging, I think. It is more different to experience the feelings that you would naturally experience just by being surrounded by the true environment, or as true an environment as possible in a studio, and in Phantom you had that. I had my lair downstairs, you know. I had those elements to look at, to feel, to touch. Whereas here, sometimes you’re just standing next to one false rock, and you’re looking at an army of a million Persians that aren’t there, there’s a blue screen. It makes it in some ways more interesting, because you have to go to different places, I feel I can change my approach in a subtle way, I just feel it changing naturally and I have to trust that.

Is it more like being in theater where you have to create the world around you?

Yes, that’s a good point. Yes, it feels often like theater. The only one difference in theater, you get to tell the story from the start and when you’re in the middle of it, you’re not even thinking about it, you’re just there. I miss that, that’s a big difference between filming. It’s one of the constant things that I am always checking with myself, is getting that nice balance between the comic book character and the real person, or the theatrical element and the cinematic element and not pushing it too much either way.

Have you done a lot of research? Did you know the story before?

I knew the story, I hadn’t studied the story but I knew of the story. I did a bunch of reading into that, books on carnage and culture, books on war, on generals, on philosophies of battle, but most of my research was on a daily basis as I’m walking around being obsessed with the character that I’m playing.

Minor injuries going on? How have you done?

I got a scar on my knuckle here when I tried to spear somebody. I have a bunch of bruises, I have got tendonitis right now in both elbows and shoulders, I’ve gone through a lot in this film. I went from no training at all to training very hard. I overdid it at the start. I’m glad now, ‘cause anytime I’m feeling like that, I’m sure a king would be feeling like that as well, cause I’m sure he’s had bumps and bruises and sort of you know. It all works.

Thank you guys!

Source: JoBlo.com

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