Actor Gerard Butler
Gerry Butler
Gerard Butler 300
300 (2007)
Gerard Butler Beowulf And Grendel
Beowulf And Grendel (2005)
Gerard Butler Miracle Match
Miracle Match (Game Of Their Lives) (2005)
Gerard Butler Phantom Of The Opera
Phantom Of The Opera (2004)
Gerard Butler Dear Frankie
Dear Frankie (2004)
Gerard Butler Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life
Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life (2003)
Gerard Butler Timeline
Timeline (2003)
Gerard Butler Attila
Attila (2001)


He is so well known, and everything seems to be going so right for him. But who is he, really, and what is he doing wrong?

I like Gerard Butler. Everybody does. He's funny, engaging and self-effacing; he's good-looking, athletic, 6' 2", plays heroic roles and speaks with a Scottish accent. But who is he?

He has the largest fan base of any actor in this country or abroad. Check it out: there are more fan web sites to him than anyone else in movies - almost anyone, period. He's the darling of the paparazzi. There are more pictures of him on the web than any other actor - almost anyone who has ever lived. But no one knows much more about him than what he looks like.

He's on more talk shows, gives more interviews. There are more YouTube videos of him. You can find page after page of information on him. But we still don't know much more about him than the basic facts.

Gerry, as his friends call him, was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1969. He was the product of a broken home, and had no contact with his father until he was 16. Eventually they became friends, but he lost his dad to cancer when he was in his early twenties.

Gerry studied law at Glasgow University. But he decided to give up the legal profession for acting after being fired from his first job, and after being offered a role in Shakespeare's Coriolanus on the London stage. He had his film debut in Mrs. Brown (1997), and his breakthrough role as Attila the Hun in the USA network film Attila (2001). His two most significant films after that have been Phantom Of The Opera (2004) and 300 (2007).

He is single and likes women, but, at almost 40, has no prospects for marriage that anyone knows of. He has played in a rock band and struggled with alcoholism. He considers himself a spiritual person and prefers reading a good book to the Hollywood night life. He owns apartments in London and New York; but, when not on location, he spends most of his time in LA.

Gerry has done more films than most contemporary actors with a career the length of his: about 30 films in 10 years. He is constantly working, with five projects going on right now. Yet, he has never been recognized as a star, although there is every indication that he wants to be. With all his gifts and opportunities, and as many times as he's ridden the Hollywood merry-go-round, he just doesn't seem to be able to grab the brass ring.

Who is Gerry Butler, and what is he doing wrong?

First off, let me say that I have watched with interest the rise of other young actors. When Mel Gibson was first exposed to American audiences in Year Of Living Dangerously (1982), I knew he would make a name for himself. When Russell Crowe first turned heads in L.A. Confidential (1997) - for those of us who missed The Quick And The Dead (1995) - I, along with many others, recognized - almost after the fact - that he would be the next great screen actor. Gerry is following a similar course to those of Mel and Russ, with one big exception.

As both Mel and Russ did early in their careers, Gerry is accepting almost any role that comes along. Gibson especially did a lot of films of questionable value early on, and almost burned himself out over-working. Crowe has some trash in his early filmography as well; but he eventually became more selective, with such films as The Insider (1999), Gladiator (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Master And Commander (2003) and Cinderella Man (2005) establishing him as the primo serious actor in Hollywood today. If it hadn't been for his misbehavior in public turning a good part of Hollywood and his fan base against him, he would be the number one movie star today. He still is the number one movie actor, which is actually better.

Gibson is another story. He never made it to the top of the ladder, acting-wise, even with films like Hamlet (1990), Man Without A Face (1993) and Braveheart (1995). It's just difficult imagining a director giving a serious role to a Lethal Weapon. So, he solved his problem by moving into directing. There, I think, he has come into his own. Films like Man Without A Face, Braveheart, Passion Of The Christ (2004) and Apocalypto (2006) have broken new ground. But, like Crowe, his misbehavior in public has alienated him from Hollywood and much of his fan base.

Unless he turns back to alcohol, I don't think Butler will have a problem maintaining his popularity, as Gibson and Crowe have. But, as he matures, he is not making the better choices that one would expect. He is still doing trash films, like the recent P.S I Love You (2007). 300 gave him an edge and exposure that he never before had. (After all, in Phantom Of The Opera, he had to wear a mask.) But most good actors, when they're between quality films, will choose to do something challenging on the stage, rather than waste time doing films that might be considered beneath them. But Butler just keeps churning them out - good, bad or indifferent - as if there were a prize for the actor who does the most films.

I'm hoping that eventually the actor within will emerge, so we can see what he is really capable of. I don't know how much longer he can hold onto the action hero persona - although Sylvester Stallone and Harrison Ford have raised the bar on how old an action hero can be - 65! But they both have characters that are solely identified with them. Butler doesn't have that. It would be good for him to think about returning to roles that are more dramatically challenging, such as the ones he played in Dear Frankie (2004) and The Jury (2002). Those two films made me think that Butler had some potential, dramatically. I know those types of roles aren't as fun or flashy as Leonidas, Phantom or Attila the Hun; but they could lead him to better ones that would be fun and flashy, like MacBeth, or some of the many Scottish heroes of which literature is full. After all, he's got the accent down pat, and even has trouble losing it for non-Scottish roles. What could be better?

As far as who Gerard Butler really is - do we really know who any of the so-called stars are? Aren't they all just fabrications of the media and publicity agents anyway? I mean, did we really know who Gibson and Crowe were before their public faux pas? Maybe that was what Hollywood hated most about them - they let their masks slip, exposing their humanity - something "stars" should never do. Hollywood celebrities aren't supposed to be real people - they're gods and goddesses. We can enjoy their glamorous lifestyles, but we can never be like them. Now, Gibson and Crowe have revealed that they are really just human, like us. Hollywood can't afford for its idols to fall down to earth. People will stop worshipping.

Please pray for Gerard Butler, and any other actors and celebrities God has put on your heart. Please pray that they will come to know Him and learn to use their gifts and talents for His glory and His kingdom. Given the frequency with which these people are on our radar screens, they ought to be getting more prayers than anyone on the planet. There must be a reason for their high profiles, and I can't think of a better one than that God wants us to pray for them.


Waitsel Smith, February 29, 2008

Text © 2008 Waitsel Smith. Images © 2007 Warner Bros., et al. All Rights Reserved.

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