Hollywood star Gerard Butler tells how visits to his homeland help keep him grounded

July 6, 2013 | Interviews

[i]WHILE Gerard is a multi-millionaire Hollywood A-lister, he says he doesn’t care about the celebrity lifestyle and insists he will always be “little old Gerry”.[/i]

SITTING in the garden of his family home in Comrie, Perthshire, Gerard Butler is no longer the big
Hollywood A-lister.

And that’s just how he likes it.

The hunk is much in demand for action movies and rom-coms in Los Angeles, where he lives. He’s also one of the most lusted-after men in the world – linked to some of the hottest women on the planet, like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz. But in Scotland, at the home of his mum Margaret and stepfather Alex Coll, he’s just Gerry.

The actor, who was born in Paisley, said: “I go to Scotland maybe three times a year and I love it.

“When I’m at home, I feel at home, I feel myself, I feel connected.

“To be back with your family and your friends, and to be in the land that made me who I am, especially now that my family live in the Highlands.

“So I sit in the garden, I look up at the mountain ranges and I am just taken aback constantly by how beautiful it is there, and what a great land I come from.

“Such a great history – romantic, warring, passionate and heart-breaking, as well.

“I think I come from one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.

“I love the humour there and I love the warmth. I just really connect when I get back, and I find that I recharge and knock out all the bull that’s going round in my head, all of that Hollywood nonsense.

“I quickly get that slapped out of me. When mum’s like, ‘can you go in and wash the dishes?’, I’m always saying, ‘Mum, look, I’m a Hollywood star, I don’t do that!’ And she’s like, ‘whatever, get in and wash the dishes’.”

Gerard’s latest film, Chasing Mavericks, opened in cinemas yesterday and followed Olympus Has Fallen, which was out in April.

They follow films like 300, P.S. I Love You, Nim’s Island and The Ugly Truth, which have made him one of Hollywood’s leading men, able to switch between action and rom-coms. But it doesn’t stop him going out when he’s back here – he just knows which places not to go to.

Gerard, 43, who has been teetotal for more than 15 years, said: “I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t change your life in some way.

“I think to go into a crazy, drunken sports bar in Edinburgh would probably be hard… I don’t mean in an aggressive way, just that the people might get a bit hyper and it would work for about 10 minutes, then you’d be like, ‘OK, great, thank you guys, I’ve got to get out of here’.

“But generally I try to keep my life the same as it was, as much as I can.”

He certainly seems to be trying to make it more private than it was since he rose to prominence opposite Angelina Jolie in 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.

He’s been linked with a string of women, often his co-stars, including Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Biel, Naomi Campbell, Lindsay Lohan and Katy Perry.

No wonder, then, that he’s trying to keep the interest over his girlfriend of a year, Romanian model Madalina Ghenea, 25, at bay. He claimed he was single again but was caught on holiday with the her in Italy last week.

And while he won’t confirm or deny his A-list conquests, he doesn’t like the ladies’ man tag anymore, claiming he’s past it.

He said: “That was earned a long time ago. I can laugh about that, I’m no angel but in actual fact, I work very, very hard and I take my job seriously.

“I’ve had fun, but trust me, I’m definitely not the man I used to be – nor am I capable.”

So is Gerard thinking of settling down?

He added: “I do plan to have a family one day. My family is everything to me. I have a brother and sister, they’re both married, I have four nieces. In fact, my goddaughter recently had her first communion in Scotland. I’m very close to my family.

“It’s hard because I live in Hollywood and I travel around, so I don’t get to see them as much as I would like to, but they’re my life.

“No matter what happens in life, they are always who define me. They bring me back to who I am – thinking about them, spending time with them, talking to them.”

Now for you ladies who think you might still be in with a chance, it seems only right to ask what he looks for in a woman.

He said: “I love a girl with a good sense of humour, who is confident but who has a sweetness to her – that melts my heart.”

Yup, he sounds like a good catch and is no pretend action man. Instead, he’s a real-life hero who saved a boy’s life in 1997, rescuing the teenager from the River Tay and being handed a certificate of bravery by the Royal Humane Society of Scotland.

He is sad he’s lost touch with the lad.

Gerard said: “He wrote to me, he was 13 at the time.

“They were an English family and they were in Scotland, at the River Tay. It’s a kind of fast-flowing, dangerous part of the river – a lot of people drown there.

“I was with my mother and we suddenly heard this screaming. It reminded me of the Time Machine, where the woman is in the water, drowning and screaming, because I looked around and nobody else had paid any attention, so I thought, ‘am I imagining this?’.

“So I go over and I come across this kid screaming, saying, ‘my friend’s in the water’.

“I look into the water and this kid is just disappearing, moving down the river.

“I went in and I pulled him out, and there was a scary moment because I’ve never had to save anyone’s life before. I didn’t really know what I was doing. But we got him out and he wrote me a letter afterwards.

“He wasn’t even with his parents, he was with his aunt and uncle, and the thought of them losing not even their own kid, but somebody else’s kid, was kind of insane.

“Anyway, it was a really beautiful note just saying thank you for taking the time.”

The actor has also been on the other side. During filming of the surfing movie Chasing Mavericks, he thought he was going to die when he was engulfed by two huge waves.

He said: “I’ve been saved a couple of times by people, you know, and that’s not the only person that I’ve saved.

“I’ve been in some pretty crazy car crashes that I’ve come across. One time, a guy had been beaten by six other guys who were just kicking him and kicking him. I jumped in there, not knowing what would happen, and the same thing has happened to me.

“Once I was getting the s*** kicked out of me and three guys I’d never met came over and saved me. I think if you put yourself out there, then hopefully it comes back to you.

Karma? “Absolutely,” he added quietly.

Gerard was born in Paisley, but the family moved to Canada, returning when he was 18 months old after his parents split up.

He studied law at Glasgow University, but at 22, his dad died of cancer and Gerard began drinking heavily.

Despite becoming a trainee lawyer in Edinburgh, his party lifestyle caused problems and he was fired.

He moved to London and finally became an actor, moving to Los Angeles and becoming one of Scotland’s best acting exports, alongside James McAvoy and Ewan McGregor.

But while Gerard is a multi-millionaire Hollywood A-lister, he claims not to care about all the trappings.

He said: “I love what I do, but what I do is not brain surgery. I’m still just little old me from Scotland.”

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