Ask Gerard Butler which of his movies is his favorite, and he doesn’t miss a beat.
â€œProbably Bounty Hunter,â€ he says, naming the 2010 Jennifer Aniston action-comedy-romance with enough conviction to produce a polite â€œReally?â€ from me.
This results in a series of deep, grizzly Butler laughs.
â€œThat wasn’t taking a piss out of you,â€ he says. â€œIt was taking a piss out of myself.â€
His actual answer is 300, the ancient-Greek epic, beloved by frat boys worldwide, that first landed Butler on the average American’s radar back in 2006. Since then Butler, 44, has parlayed his Scottish charm and guy’s guy appeal into a string of roles that have tended to alternate between action hero (Olympus Has Fallen) and gruff rom-com lead (The Ugly Truth). Along the way, he’s become a staple in the tabloids, often pictured shirtless alongside model-esque women.
Dressed in a dark suit, seated in front of a ceiling-to-floor window in a suite at the Standard Hotel in New York, and surrounded by an extended family of Hugo Boss fragrance bottles, Butler looks like he’s playing a C.E.O. in a corporate espionage thriller he could plausibly star in. He recently took over for Ryan Reynolds as the new face of Boss Hugo Boss Bottled fragrance, which is the impetus for our conversation in the midst of a busy fall for him.
He’ll soon be shooting the thriller Geostorm, before filming the sequel London Has Fallen. He’ll then move on to a (yet-to-be announced) heist movie, before tackling a â€œbeautiful little movie, a tragic drama.â€
He says, as if looking out on an imaginary lake, that he feels like he’s slowly starting to â€œpush away from action towards more kind of dramatic roles.â€ He adds, â€œWhen I look at my body of work, or what I have coming up, it’s so varied, that it’s hard to say I’m doing this or this, because whenever I think I’m doing one thing, I find that I’m doing something else. I never know what’s going to come and take my attention.â€
While Butler doesn’t spend a lot of time on grooming (it takes him five minutes to get ready), he says that his relationship to scents dates back to his childhood. â€œI was messing around with my stepfather’s fragrances when I was little younger than university age. Kind of like, ‘Oh my God that smells awesome; I’m gonna steal some of that.’â€ Butler cites Steve McQueen and Paul Newman as the closest thing he has to style icons, and it’s clear he does put some effort into his style: â€œWhen you find a scent that you like and makes you feel good, it really is empowering to go about your day.â€ Butler says this Hugo Boss fragrance has â€œa boldness and rawness and a masculine side,â€ as well as â€œsomething a little more unusual and unconventional (with) vanilla flavors and fruits.â€ (The official notes corroborate his report, citing â€œmasculine spicy wood notes and unconventional fruity vanilla notes.â€)
Aside from his moviesâ€”he says he is most-often recognized for P.S. I Love You, 300, and Law Abiding Citizen, though â€œwith older women, it’s Phantom of the Operaâ€â€”Butler is most visible in the aforementioned tabloids, not that he pays much attention to them.
â€œI don’t look for pictures of myself,â€ he says. â€œBut sometimes you see them. . . It’s funny if I’m ever on my computer on Google and suddenly your picture just happens to pop up, or if somebody sends one.â€
And when he does catch a shot of himself out at dinner or on the beach, he occasionally succumbs to some self-critique.
â€œI am prone to be like, ‘What am I wearing?’ or, ‘What’s that face you’re putting on?'” he says. “I must remember if I know the paparazzi are chasing me around, smile a little more. Sometimes when you’re playing it cool, it comes across like a scowl or a frown.â€
In recounting what it’s like when he’s ambushed by paparazzi after a meal at night, it starts to sounds like the plot description for a horror film.
â€œThe worst is if you’re out at night and they run up to you out of nowhere and they run within two feet of you and put these really bright flashes [in your face] and it’s like you’re being attacked . . . Your heart always skips a beat. And they know that. And they play on that. And they get a photo of you looking all kind of startled.â€
But, he says, wearily, he’s found some peace vis-Ã -vis the paparazzi. â€œIt’s fine. The rest of it is all good. As long as you have a nice meal, it’s worth it.â€
The conversation eventually turns to Game of Thrones, as Butler recently wrapped filming Gods of Egypt opposite Jaime Lannister himself, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Butler tells me he recently purchased all the Game of Thrones DVDs so he can watch them in the back of his new Range Rover en route from Malibu (where he lives) to meetings in Los Angeles, since he hasn’t been able to find the time.
â€œI’m not great with television, I don’t really keep up with it,â€ he says. â€œI quite like it when people tell me they don’t watch television, even though there’s great television on right now.â€
He looks me right in the eye and says, â€œIf somebody tells me they go hiking or surfing and adventuring, I’m likeâ€”even as an actor, and they’re not going to the moviesâ€”I’m still like, ‘Dude, that’s awesome.’â€