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#213. Gerard Butler

While there are some actors who have a large range of genres to choose from, there are still some who should stick with their primary skill set. Sure, these actors will dabble in various films that don’t necessarily fit the type of character that they would usually play, but these films rarely do well. The most obvious two genres that don’t really go together are action and romantic comedy. Sure, both of them have their funny moments and times of tension. However, sometimes an actor is so good at one that he ruins his chances of being good in the other. Still, there are a few exceptions, but just think: would you want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in a romantic comedy? Hugh Grant in a high-octane action film? Gerard Butler seems to fit this dichotomy pretty well. He’s good at the action films, but not so great at the romantic comedies. This week’s two films highlight some of his better roles.

The Phantom of the OperaThe Phantom of the Opera
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Length: 143 minutes / 2.38 hours

OK, even though I said that Butler is not good in romantic comedies, The Phantom of the Opera is more of a romantic drama than a romantic comedy. This is no P.S. I Love You (2007), The Ugly Truth (2009), or even The Bounty Hunter (2010), the latter of which earned him two Golden Raspberry nominations. At the very least, a romantic drama is closer to an action film, especially when the director needed someone who is “. . . a bit rough, a bit dangerous; [and] not a conventional singer.” Originally, Hugh Jackman was approached for this role, but was too busy with Van Helsing (2004) to accept. It’s no wonder that he went on to get a Best Actor nomination for Les Misérables (2012) eight years later. Also like Jackman, Butler has used his voice as a voice actor, mainly for the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. In The Phantom of the Opera, we get the chance to hear Gerard Butler sing.

Not since Lon Cheney, in the silent-era version of The Phantom of the Opera (1925), has an actor come along who seemed to really grasp the essence of The Phantom like Gerard Butler has. His obsession with Christine Daaé (Emmy Rossum) has driven the recluse to sabotage the opera house where he lives. From the shadows, he tutors Christine as her “Angel of Music”, while also requesting payment from the opera house owners and removing any hindrance in the way of Christine’s stardom. Of course, since he remains hidden, Christine ends up falling in love with a man whom she knew from her childhood. This revelation deals a decisive blow to the masked madman, who has since revealed himself and used the destruction of the opera house to corner Christine and force her to love him. It is at this point when he realizes his mistake and sadly lets the two lovers escape to safety.

Year: 2006
Rating: R
Length: 117 minutes / 1.95 hours

Gerard Butler is an action movie staple. It’s as simple as that. Such films as RocknRolla (2008), Gamer (2009), and Machine Gun Preacher (2011) have shown that he has the bravado it takes to make action movies fun. He even manages to exude this quality into his vocal performances in the aforementioned How to Train Your Dragon franchise. While Butler has managed to find a continuing role in the action film Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and its sequel, London Has Fallen (2016), his breakout role in the action film genre was that of King Leonidas of the Spartans in 300 (2007). His gravelly voice yelling out such catchphrases as “Tonight we dine in Hell!” and “This is Sparta!” have impacted popular culture almost as much as his foot impacted the stomach of a Persian messenger as he kicked said messenger into a bottomless pit.

King Leonidas I (Gerard Butler) is the one man who is standing against the relentless advance of the innumerable Persian army led by the god-emperor, King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Leonidas and the other Spartans are not going to bow to Xerxes without a fight, so he takes 300 of his best soldiers to bring the fight to the Persian. While they are vastly outnumbered, they decline the help of a group from Athens because they lack the fighter’s mindset that has been ingrained in all Spartan men. When the Spartans finally encounter the Persian army, they manage to use their military skill to kill a vast number of their enemy. This impresses Xerxes, who makes it a point to personally ask Leonidas to surrender. With a thrown spear as his sole response, Leonidas and his men are then thrust back into a hopeless battle from which none of them would survive.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 badass Butler roles

Bacon #: 2 (Timeline / Michael Sheen -> Frost/Nixon / Kevin Bacon)


One response to “#213. Gerard Butler

  1. Pingback: End of Act Five | Cinema Connections

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