Have you ever noticed how, sometimes, someone or something you’ve encountered didn’t really interest you at all under one circumstance, but then suddenly becomes fascinating under another? As has been previously mentioned, I am a fan of the Tomb Raider movies, and I saw both of them when they were released. It’s always been funny to me that in both cases, the pseudo-love interest barely registered as a blip on my radar initially, but then became a big deal for me later on. I’m speaking, of course, about Daniel Craig and Gerard Butler. Craig, as we all know, became a bonafide star and sex symbol with the release of Casino Royale (and how!). Mr. Butler hit it (really) big with 300 and his Spartan abs of awesomeness. For this movie buff, however, the beginnings of Gerard Butler fandom were not delayed quite so long, or reserved for quite such a well-received, “cult favorite” offering.
I first noticed Mr. Butler in Timeline. Now, please understand: Timeline is not what you’d call a good movie. It’s based on a Michael Crichton book of the same name, which is actually pretty decent, but the movie is just … well, it’s a pretty standard B-movie, would be fun to watch on the USA network, sort of action-y with a twist, movie. A group of friends were gathering at one individual’s apartment, and we decided to watch a movie. Said individual happened to have Timeline on DVD, and somehow, it got voted upon. I remember voting for it because I’d been curious after reading the novel, but I had no ideas that it would be any good, really, or that it would have anything to interest me past that evening. Silly, silly me.
Timeline concerns a group of archeological students who gets mixed up in the machinations of a group of scientists who have, essentially, invented time travel. They get stuck back in 14th century France and have to battle various enemies, all while trying to find their way back “home.” The three students upon whom the film focuses are played by Paul Walker, Frances O’Conner, and Gerard Butler. Now, in the book, Mr. Butler’s character, Andre Marek, was my favorite. He’s an archaeologist, but also a bit of a re-enactor, so he takes to the 14th century as if he was born there. So basically, we’re talking a smart, rugged guy who knows how to handle a sword. Samantha 101: Brains + scruff + sword = WIN (see: my love of Russell Crowe). Thus, despite the actor’s name not being very familiar to me, I guess I was pretty curious about who they had playing Marek. And behold, an utterly charming, scruffy guy with a Scottish accent (not appropriate for the role, but oh well) who could, indeed, swing a sword quite well. I was, in very short order, hooked. Seriously, glued to the television. My friends who were there that night remember very little about the movie beyond the fact that it was “the beginning of [my] Gerard Butler fixation.” Yes, that’s a direct quote.
And thus it began. Gerry’s been my solid #3 ever since. He briefly flirted with #2, but that was before RDJ came on the scene. I am forced to admit that most of Mr. Butler’s charm for me comes from his person (he’s hot, yo), and from his (perceived) personality. He’s really funny in interviews, you guys. Also, did you know that he has a law degree? He is no dummy, even if you wouldn’t really know it from some of his more recent movie choices. Also? He won a medal for saving some kid from drowning. Say it with me: Awww. But let’s get back to those film-related choices, shall we?
Post-Timeline, Gerry’s engaged in an interesting mix of large/small movies. The large ones have made lots of money, in some cases, but were not usually critical successes, whereas the smaller films prove that he is actually a talented actor. Seriously, trade Phantom of the Opera for Dear Frankie, and 300 for Shattered (which I haven’t seen, but supposedly he’s very good in it.). And then, there are the rom-coms. P.S. I Love You was actually quite charming, but I have so far refused to see either The Ugly Truth or The Bounty Hunter. Nim’s Island was cute. He made a couple of action-y things … Gamer and Law Abiding Citizen; from what I’ve heard, skip those and see Rocknrolla instead. That might be, in my opinion, the last really good movie he’s made. I’m not counting How to Train Your Dragon (because it’s animated), but I think it’s maybe the biggest commercial success he’s been involved in. So yeah, the choices upon “making it” have been varied and mostly questionable. I have to admit that I’ve lost a little bit of interest lately, mostly because Butler has been seemingly about tabloid fodder and bad rom-coms with annoying female co-stars in the past couple of years.
However, there is always hope. His next few projects would at least seem to indicate that he’s moving in a more “actorly” direction: he’s finished Fiennes’ production of Coriolanus (where the devil is the trailer for this? I am dying) and (if IMDb is to be believed) Machine Gun Preacher, which is the true “story of Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker tough guy who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been forced to become soldiers.” Can we say Oscar bait, maybe? And finally, he’s long been attached to a biopic about Scots poet Robert Burns, which is now (again, according to IMDb) actually in production! I’ve always been excited about the prospect of that one.
So, I say, don’t count Gerry out just yet. Yes, he’s a hunk who has his own rabid fanbase of middle-aged women. Yes, as far as most of the movie-going public is concerned he’s in bad thrillers and even worse rom-coms, he’s a bit of a manwhore, and he’s got a terrible American accent. But, for those of us in the know, he’s also a talented and sensitive actor, who’s maybe just having a little bit of fun, and perhaps the teensiest rip at the institution of Hollywood. And so, cheers to you, Gerry. Have a happy birthday on Saturday. And after you’re doing celebrating, go make a good movie. No, really. A good one.
Bonus: Because I love this, and it’s horribly adorable, here’s Gerry being interviewed by Craig Ferguson. It’s an old clip (note the Butler as Bond rumor), but they are utterly hilarious and just clearly having a great time. Enjoy!