Imogen Edwards-Jones chews the garlic with Gerard Butler, toothsome star of Dracula 2001
You have probably never heard of Gerard Butler. You’ll probably have seen him – most notably tied to a bed with a bowl of fruit covering his nether regions in the Channel 4 series A Young Person’s Guide To Becoming A Rock Star -but this is a man who is not a household name in his own household. Still, he should care. Hollywood thinks he’s just It.
This is the man signed up to play the lead in Timeline, based on the book by Jurassic Park’s Michael Crichton. This is the man who has just finished work on the big-budget fantasy flick, Reign of Fire. This is the man with five Internet fansites. This is the man they are talking of in a possible future James Bond interface scenario. It is easy to see why. Long, thick, dark hair. Bright green eyes.
Even wrecked by jet lag he still manages to exude positive energy about the less-than-ecstatically received Dracula 2001, in which he stars alongside Jonny Lee Miller and Christopher Plummer. “Of all the Dracula movies I have seen, it’s the most terrifying, the most action-packed, and terribly erotic,” Butler says.
It was a part he was born to play, as they say. “The character breakdown said this man has to be charismatic, intense, powerful, sexy and provocative and we want to see all of that when he walks in the door for the audition,” he says. “Normally I come bouncing in like a big puppy, but not for this one.
“It’s weird, they had been casting around the world for four months, but the casting director had a psychic friend who said ‘I don’t know what you’re worried about, he just hasn’t come in yet.’ And the day before I arrived she phoned and said, ‘He’s coming tomorrow,’ which is amazing, don’t you think?”
With all his extremely un-British enthusiasm for his job and his lack of drama-school self-conscious self-depreciation, it should be pointed out that the 30-year-old Butler is relatively new to the acting game. In fact, acting was a career switch that came about when he was fired from a Glasgow law firm at the age of 25.
“Quite frankly, I would have fired me,” he says. “I couldn’t really say that I was interested in law. Even on my first day at university I couldn’t stay awake.”
Almost exactly a year after becoming a former legal eagle, he was starring in Trainspotting at the Edinburgh Festival. Since then he has gone on to perform opposite Rachel Weisz at the Donmar Warehouse in Suddenly Last Summer, and Andy MacDowell in the Bosnian war film, Harrison’s Flowers.
“My goals have changed,” he says. “At the start I thought, I want to be an actor, be famous, it’ll be a lot of fun. And now I find myself looking at projects thinking, not about the effect of the project, but playing the part itself. I just hope I keep enjoying it. I hope I don’t become cool.”
Copyright 2001 Times Newspapers Limited