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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!