tisdag 11 november 2008

True Blue

Gerard Butler goes for blunt force on-screen. But at the Milan menswear shows, the man who launched a thousand swords expressed his taste for the indispensable navy suit. By Taylor Antrim

Maybe I miscalculated. Before Gerard Butler and I order our lunch, I hand him the text of Mark "Rent Boy" Renton's blistering speech from the film Trainspotting. Butler gamely reads it aloud: "It's shite being Scottish. We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking earth. The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization."
There was a point to this. Back in the nineties, long before 300, the overachieving swords-and-sandals epic that made him Hollywood's out-of-nowhere action hero, Butler played Renton in a stage adaptation of Trainspotting. I consider Trainspotting a pop culture landmark, a scary, pulsating piece of storytelling. Renton's speech is a highlight.
Key fact: Butler is Scottish; I'm not. "A Scottish person can slag off Scotland, that's fine," Butler says. "But if anybody else does, you'll get a punch in the face." He's looking at me with a solemn expression. Remember that scene from 300 where the Persian envoy insults the Spartans? Butler's King Leonidas gives him a long stare, and then horse-kicks him into a bottomless pit. Seconds pass. Finally, the actor breaks into a boyish, mischievous grin. Relief. He's having me on. He lets out a big laugh.
Quick with a joke or a funny story, Butler is a playful guy with something of a roguish streak. ("I'm 38, but I feel like a 24-year-old," he tells me.) That made him the perfect companion for the four-day juggernaut of men's fashion week in Milan last summer. "I'm not a fashion guy," he warned, but went on to prove to Men's Vogue that he was up for anything: runway shows, late-night parties, and even letting a photographer chase him around labyrinthine Milan in an array of choice navy suits. "Man, those suits," he tells me now, wistfully.
His affability also makes him a natural fit for RocknRolla, the latest London gangster flick from Guy Ritchie, and something of a return to form for the director who gave us Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Ritchie's new movie has an ensemble cast; a twisty plot involving a Russian oligarch, a rock star, and a stolen painting; a couple of bravura action sequences; and a healthy dose of laddish humor — largely thanks to Butler's small-time crook, One Two, and his partner, Mumbles (played by The Wire's Idris Elba). The pair look like bulldogs but would rather have a laugh down the pub than rough anyone up.
The RocknRolla script came to Butler soon after he finished 300. "I read it and loved it," he says. "To see Lock, Stock — it was so cool, so hip, I thought everybody involved would be part of some little clique. It's a gang you don't break into. But it really wasn't like that at all. Guy is so easygoing. I was amazed at how open he was."

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