My Top 5 Favorite Gerard Butler Roles

The Many Faces of Gerard Butler
The Many Faces of Gerard Butler

This post that’s been on my draft folder for a while, but today seems as timely as ever for five reasons: IMDB featured him on its Character Spotlight section on the main page on Thursday, he was on Kimmel last Friday, his actioner flick GAMER just opened this weekend, and today EW’s PopWatch blog just posted “Is GB a lover or a fighter?” article. I’ve been a fan of Gerry — as he preferred to be called as Americans can’t pronounced Ger-ERD for the life of them — for about five years now. Some of you loyal readers know it all started when I saw The Phantom of the Opera in Winter of 2004 and was mesmerized by his performance. I became a GB groupies for a while, even going so far as planning a trip to the Toronto Film Festival in ’05 after learning he might one of the celeb lineups to promote Beowulf & Grendel. As I’ve outlined in my previous TIFF post, I ended up “meeting” him, well if you can call it that, which was the highlight of my trip.

I think it’s great that ze Butler is on people’s radar lately, even though I’d rather focus on his work instead of on the relentless gossips written about him. It’s a pity however, that I’ve decided to skip two of his latest offerings at the theater, but given that I did see Rocknrolla earlier this year and looking forward to Law Abiding Citizen next month, I’d still get my ‘Gerry fix’ by year’s end. He’s a talented and charismatic actor IMO, despite what some of you may think after you saw The Ugly Truth. But think about it, what actor is entirely immune from making bad acting choices? Even thespian like Ralph Fiennes did Maid in Manhattan with JLo for cryin’ out loud, which practically made TUT look like an Oscar contender.

Just a couple of facts: he’s done 37 movies in the last 12 years, even though he’s a late bloomer in the business having entered the industry when he was already 27. He’s got a law degree from Glasgow University, so he’s more than a pretty face and that intellect definitely comes across on and off screen. He’s what you’d call a chameleon actor, being able to ‘disappear’ into a role and look very different from film to film. When I first saw him as the Phantom, I had absolutely no idea that I’ve seen two of his previous films (as Angelina’s boy toy in Tomb Raider 2 and playing archeologist Andre Marek in Timeline). As you can see in my collage above, he’s done multiple genres of movies ranging from biopic (Attila), action (300), rom-com (P.S. I Love You), musical (Phantom), thriller (Law Abiding Citizen), drama (Dear Frankie), horror (Dracula 2000), even a kiddie flick with Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island). That’s quite impressive for someone with no formal training whatsoever. With that said, I’m not going to sidestep the fact that when it comes to doing accents, he’s not as adept in that department as say, Christian Bale or Russell Crowe. My colleague even said the worst part about The Ugly Truth was Gerry’s horrible American accent, which was totally distracting as he simply didn’t buy his character as an American. That should be a critique any actor should take to heart and work harder at perfecting. Personally, it hasn’t bothered me to the point that I stop watching his movies, and that’s largely because he is so darn charismatic. Well hot too, obviously, but über hotness alone can only hold my interest for so long.

So without further ado, let’s get on my Top Five Gerry Butler’s Favorite Roles:

  1. Phantom (Phantom of the Opera)
    This one is obviously going to be the top of the list, being the role that won me over. Some critics trashed his singing, comparing it to Michael Crawford’s voice — the original Phantom on Broadway — which is unfair as he had no vocal training prior to doing this role. Besides, Gerry’s rock ‘n roll voice was what Andrew Llyod Webber wanted for the film and I could see why. The way he imbued each song with such genuine heart-felt emotion was beautiful and devastating to watch. In fact, he sort of ruined the stage version for me as I’d much prefer Gerry’s dazzling performance. Plus, he could swing that cape like nobody’s business, and even with a half deformed face, he was as sexy as ever.
  2. Johnnie Donne  (BBC miniseries The Jury)
    Every time people tell me he can’t act, I almost always tell them to catch a glimpse of this little-seen legal drama. Gerry played a recovering alcoholic juror who’s trying to get his life back on track in the midst of a grueling murder trial. Even early in his career, I was impressed with his intense dramatic chops. It’s all in the eyes with Gerry, and all the close-up shots throughout this series truly captured the inner struggle of his character. My favorite scene is when he learned the truth about the woman he’s in love with. I can’t watch that scene without tearing up. He made brokenness and heartbreak so utterly bewitching.
  3. King Leonidas (300)
    The world finally learns who Gerry is because of this role. It’s not one of my fave GB movies because of the genre, but the movie worked because the audience believed in him as the King. Gerry transformed himself physically which definitely helped the role, but his regal yet severe demeanor gave Leonidas that commanding presence. If you see GB in any interview or talk-show, we know he’s a gregarious and goofy guy, but there’s no trace of that in this role.
  4. The Stranger (Dear Frankie)
    This tiny gem of a movie won many festival film awards and remains one of my all-time favorites. GB’s only in it for merely 20 minutes or so, but every single scenes he’s in packs an emotional wallop. There’s probably only a page of dialog written for his character, which is why it calls for a very restrained and measured kind of acting. There’s a scene where the Stranger reacted to something Frankie’s mother Lizzie said. I can’t forget that look on his face: it was a mix of disgust, pity, anger and deep sympathy all rolled into one.
  5. Gerry (P.S. I Love You)
    GB’s new fans from 300 was flabbergasted to see his soft side right after such a bad @$$ role, but that’s exactly what I expect from him. He’s said in interviews that he shared some of the gregariousness of his ‘Gerry’ character and it shows. He plays him with such ease and is as convincing as a softie, goofy dude — complete with the shamrock-boxer-clad striptease — as he was as a tough-as-nail King of Sparta. Having to act opposite two-time Oscar winner must’ve been daunting but lots of people who’ve seen this actually thought it’s Hillary Swank who could be better cast here.

Honorable Mentions:

  • OneTwo (Rocknrolla)
  • Andre Marek (Timeline)

So to answer EW’s PopWatch question, GB can be both a fighter AND a lover. He can’t be boxed into one type of role, which I hope will always be the case. Oh GB & co., if you’re reading this, I think you’ve done enough share of rom-coms by now, how about doing BURNS or The Teacher Man? Those are definitely right up your alley!

Anyhoo, I’m looking forward to see him bring his raw intensity in Law Abiding Citizen. According to this site, the script sounds pretty solid, so it’s up to his and Jamie Foxx’s performances to make this one a classic thriller. Can’t wait!

22 thoughts on “My Top 5 Favorite Gerard Butler Roles

  1. Mike

    I’d I can’t argue with your list, having only seen 3 of the 5. Not sure his Tomb Raider role would have bumped any of those off. PS. and 300 are without doubt his big hits though. October will be telling as GAMER may not do much …

  2. rtm

    You should see Phantom with your GF, I think she’d appreciate it =) No, his boy toy role in TR 2 is for eye candy only IMO, but hey at least he was man enough to handle miss Jolie! I have high hopes for LAC, but we’ll have to see.

    Btw, did the ‘colleague’ who saw TUT sounds familiar to you? he..he…

  3. PrairieGirl

    Gerry’s role in Timeline was the perfect combo of action and romance. And I’m there with you all the way with Phantom as #1. And I really did like TUT (sorry, Mike!). The entire theatre (mostly women) was laughing out loud throughout (including me). There were some really clunker parts (in terms of the script) but there were also heartwarming scenes where Gerry’s macho character becomes very endearing. And who would have thought in just 20 minutes of screen time in Dear Frankie he could be so compelling. So grazi, grazi, grazi for introducing me to my #2 movie boyfriend!

    1. rtm

      Hi Becky! I would’ve liked Timeline better if GB was the lead instead of that lame Paul Walker! Marek was such an interesting character, romantic tough guy like you said. In the behind the scenes featurette, it’s obvious director Richard Donner (Superman 1) really liked him but GB was virtually unknown at the time it’d be a tough sell to cast him as the lead.

      I’d still check out TUT on DVD, I just don’t feel like spending my 10 bucks for it. Who knows, I might like it more than I thought =)

      Now, if we could just get your #1 BF Rufus to be in a movie with GB, wouldn’t that be nice?

      1. PrairieGirl

        Oh, my heart be still! What a dream that would be fulfilled to see GB and RS together in a film. I know you’ve mentioned that before, maybe if we keep wishing and hoping and praying it will come true!

  4. mcarteratthemovies

    You know, I have to admit to not liking Gerard Butler very much. I have no idea why. You may have convinced me to give him a second look.

    1. rtm

      Hey, you may never grow to like him, and that’s totally fine. Just like I don’t think I’d ever like Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom. GB isn’t the best actor around but there’s something magnetic about him and plus, he’s very, very funny. So yeah, he deserves a second look for sure, Meredith. For starters, I’d suggest “Dear Frankie” and you’d be pleasantly surprised.

  5. dms68

    I like your list but for me the character of Andre Marek was more compelling than Gerry Kennedy so I would swap those two. If we are talking what is the fave movies then thats different but as far as characters go. Marek is waaay up there for me.

    You really should check out TUT. Its hard to have a valid opinion on it without seeing it. And I laughed throughout the entire movie, as did pretty much everyone in the theater each time (I did see it more than once or twice). Is it Shakespeare? or anything but a fun flick? no it isnt, but it IS a fun flick and i found it highly entertaining.

    And although some loved Gamer, I’m not in that camp. The violence didn’t bother me, the Society scenes did( I will never look at waffles and syrup the same way), but I truly didnt care for the film because it just had no real depth of development. I never grew to know any character well enough to care about them. But Gerry’s scenes were compelling especially in the second half of the film. So if you see it for Gerry, then dont walk out. His best scenes are nearer to the end.

    1. rtm

      Hi dms68, yeah I was torn in deciding between Marek & Gerry, but I ended up going with the latter on my top 5 as I’d rather watch “P.S.” than “Timeline” most days. But he’d be a distant 6th if it were a Top Ten though. After I fell for GB in POTO, it took me a while to realize he had played Marek too, but I did remember thinking ‘who’s that gorgeous dark-haired guy and why isn’t HE play the lead?’ =)

      I’ll check out TUT on DVD, so at least I can ffwd some of the really unbearably bad scenes. I just read Total Review (British film mag) and it gave it 3 stars out of 4, so I guess it can’t be THAT bad. Not sure if I’ll ever see GAMER though, but surely I’m excited for Law Abiding Citizen. So far the buzz’s been pretty good.

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. Marc

    I’m not sure the phrase “man crush” is the right term to explain why I like him as an actor but he has surprising range as an actor and is a joy to watch in screen.

    I think what sums is up better is the phrase “women want him, men want to be him” (a phrase funny enough coined to explain how the world felt about Liberace, so I’ve heard) and he epitomizes it to a T. Kind of like Hugh Jackman IMO.

    300 was just a kick ass film and he was cast perfectly for it. P.S I Love You took some subtlety and it was impressive that he could pull that off so well. Range: check, swagger: check, comedic timing: check…i think we’re done here:)

    1. Glad to hear from one of GB’s male fans! Hmmm, not sure about the Liberace comparison, but I suppose that phrase does fit him. He’s hugely underrated just because he did a couple of duds with “The Ugly Truth” and “GAMER,” but even in bad movies, he still oozes charisma. I’m guessing you’d be first in line for “Law Abiding Citizen”? Early buzz sounds good so far and GB will again shows his range!

      Thanks for your comment, Marc.

    1. Nah, I don’t think he needs any defending from me, besides, I do agree he hasn’t picked up a good script lately. Though with Coriolanus, hope that’ll change. I don’t think the writer of that article has seen enough of Butler’s flicks BEFORE his ‘300’ hit, hence his assessment that he can’t act. I’m not writing him off just yet, I’ll say let his future projects determine how his acting career is going to look like.

        1. Duh! I didn’t realize that was you that made the comment, I should’ve known from this line: “Yes, fine, I am a huge Gerry Butler fan. But I’m also a film buff, and I do try to keep it real. So there.” Right on, Sam!

          Btw, “Butterfly on a Wheel” is called “Shattered” here in the US (I wish they had kept the original title) and yes, he was indeed good in there as a formerly smug ad exec who’s tormented by a psychopath, but the film itself was TV-movie quality. He does look extremely good in there though, having just shot ‘300’ so he’s still very buff. He reminds me of a young Mel Gibson, but taller.

  7. I haven’t seen the other 4 movies. PS. I Love you is the first time I realize that Gerry is cute 🙂

    Huahaha every time I remember of Rock and rolla, I remember his dance with Tom Hardy

    1. You must not have seen Lara Croft II then, that prison scene alone is worth the price of admission… muy caliente 😉

      Yeah, Tom Hardy & Gerry are really funny in that, it’d be great to see both of them together in future movies.

  8. Long time since the last comment, but Gerry always merits a comment when a good post is found, I think.

    You just bring up more evidence supporting a pet peeve of mine that Gerry and/or his agents can’t seem to find a film for him that showcases his charm as well as his physique! How can a man who oozes attraction for the opposite sex, (based on the look in his eyes that says he really likes women…and not solely on whether or not he has six-pack abs) can only be plunked in the middle of shoot-em-ups or in romcoms that seem to see only the comedy possibilities (and boorish comedies, to boot, that tend to alienate the very female audience they purport to attract! Can we say The Ugly Truth and The Bounty Hunter?). The only films to date, that even come close to meeting his potential in the romantic arena, are both in your list above: P.S. I Love You and Dear Frankie. The first is completely hung up by the casting of Hillary Swank, IMHO, who, as delightful a dramatic actress as she is (loved her in Amelia), has essentially not a drop of comic lightness and charm. She just comes off as shrewish, temperamental and b-chy and one wonders why three thoroughly dishy dudes are salivating all over her in this film. Gerry can’t save it.

    He does a standup and moving job in Dear Frankie, but I still want a charming romantic comedy for him. Maybe remaking one of Cary Grant’s films, with a bit more physical hunkiness in it. I’d try Holiday (1938) if I were in charge, or maybe The Philadelphia Story (1940) with perhaps Cate Blanchett in the Katherine Hepburn roles (yeah, she’s played Kate before, but I bet CB could use a comedy every so often after her seriously serious dramas), as she is feminine, but can be just as tough as GB is. Clip of Holiday:

    I know I’ve gone on too long, but one last side note. I spoke on FB a few years back with Dear Frankie’s director, Shona Auerbach, who had been trying, with some difficulty, to get enough support for a second film. Said she has a few things in the works, but it looks like one of them is in post production now. It’s called Rudy, about a young girl coming of age, this time, and I really wish her well in it. Here’s the link to the homepage and some sort of video collage of clips in lieu of a trailer. I’m trying to figure out if Dominic West is in it as the father, or if he’s just in for inspiration.
    —Jenny K

    1. Hello Jenny!! Thanks so much for the awesome comment! I still like GB though he’s been in a ton of disappointing roles. In fact, I still included him on my list of 10 actors I’d watch in practically ANYTHING Would love to hear your thoughts on it. Right now my numero uno is Toby Stephens, and probably will be for some time I think 🙂

      Well I think in P.S. I Love You, they’re able to showcase his physique as well as his charm, but yeah it’s so rare to see. I LOVE him in Phantom though you only see half his face, but he definitely showcases all the great things he’s got to offer. That seductive masculinity, the tortured-soul persona, the romantic side, oh my, how I fell for him in that film. “…boorish comedies, to boot, that tend to alienate the very female audience they purport to attract” You hit the nail on the head there, I loathed TUT and TBH, and the latest one, Playing for Keeps is so godawful I had to ‘break up’ with him for a while.

      Y’know, I actually don’t mind Swank in P.S. but yeah, a more feminine actress w/ comedic chops like Emily Blunt would’ve worked much better! I haven’t seen Holiday yet but I recently saw Philadelphia Story and though I wasn’t wowed by it, I could see GB in the role of Grant. Oh I’d love to see him opposite Blanchett. He did in the cartoon version (How To Train Your Dragon 2), ha..ha..

      Oh cool that you chatted w/ Shona. I’ll check out her upcoming film. Boy that took a long time since DF. She’s a talented filmmaker, wish she’d do more.

      Thanks again for your comments, do keep ‘em coming! 😀

      1. Have you seen Toby Stevens in The Rising: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey? It puts together some of my favorite things, Indian film, Indian history and gorgeous, talented actors…though, on the whole I think I prefer Lagaan (Paul Blackthorne rather than TS in this one) with Aamir Khan’s avatar kind of channeling Tony Curtis, rather than the crazy wig and mustache that he has on in The Rising. Toby does very well, though. Tried to find a good clip, but everything on YouTube is by TS fans who go heavy on the modern music montage thing. Bleh.

        1. I have seen most of Mangal Pandey in Youtube. That film is so hard to find, but fortunately someone posted the entire thing on there. No English subtitles tho, which is too bad as the story is so fascinating. Ha..ha.. I have to admit I’m not crazy on the mustache look on both Toby and Aamir.

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