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Junket Junkie

Scottish celebrity meets a Baltimorean

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Confirmed: He’s Scottish.

We talked with Gerard Butler, star of such films as 300 and How to Train Your Dragon, in a room in a fancy-pants hotel in Washington, D.C., where it seems they always bring famous people for interviews. We were supposed to be there at 8 A.M., so of course we were late, but that was cool, because the Movie People were about an hour behind schedule, trotting principals of Mr. Butler’s new film, Olympus Has Fallen, around the hotel for various junket-style encounters. We kept freaking out internally and wondering if we would screw up Mr. Butler’s first name as “Gerald” instead of “Gerard,” so we kept testing ourselves, in our mind. When we met Mr. Butler he was not eating anything, but he was wearing clothes.

City Paper: Good morning, sir.

Gerard Butler [entering room]: How are you?

CP: I’m good, I’m Joe.

GB: Joe. I love the way you’re sitting there [referring to my profoundly relaxed posture in the comfy fancy-pants hotel chair].

CP: Just trying to get a couple little extra moments of rest.

GB: I know exactly what you’re about.

CP: The coffee wasn’t gettin’ it.

GB: I have some blow if you want some, that’s what I use.

CP: Blow, what is this “blow” you speak of? We’re recording right now. [To microphone] HE IS KIDDING. ABOUT THE DRUGS. [To Mr. Butler, quietly] But maybe later.

GB: Wouldn’t it be funny, if he has a secretary? [Baffled transcription-secretary noises] “TMZ, here I come.”

Movie Person [enters]: Sorry to interrupt. Antoine [Fuqua, the film’s director] is running a little late, we’re gonna start you guys—

GB: [In jest, loudly, but nothing approaching 300-level screaming] He’s LATE?

MP: I know.

GB: What the FUCK? How dare he be late?

MP: He’s gonna circle back later. [He did, and said good morning to me as they kicked me out of the room.]

GB: That’s just because today I’m a bit late, but he’s even later—

CP: Well, that’s good, because I was late too.

GB: OK, good, we’re all in late mode today.

CP: [Continuing to waste valuable movie-interview time with attempt at humor] So I’m speaking with the late Gerard Butler...

GB: [Laughs, Scottishly] That’s funny.

CP: It is the occasion of this publicity junket, as I was told—they told me it was gonna be “junket-style,” and I’m like, “What is that?”

GB: Junkie-style.

CP: What I was dreading was the one where everybody’s in a big table, and there’s more than one person asking you a question.

GB: So you get to ask, like, one question?

CP: Yeah, that just sounds weird. I’m not understanding how, as a journalist, you’re gonna use somebody else’s question.

GB: Like when they’re from Hello! magazine, and they’re saying [employs Hello! magazine-interviewer voice], “How are you a hero in your own life?”

CP: [Laughs]

GB: “And tell me, do girls like you when you play this role?” And you have some Smart Journalist like this [makes exasperated Smart-Journalist face], “There goes another three minutes of my time.” [Switching to Smart-Journalist voice] “I wanna ask my Important Question. It requires Deep Thought. Heaviness.”

CP: Unfortunately, I’m probably more the Hello! magazine-type questions.

GB: Oh really? OK, good.

CP: But let’s talk about the movie, shall we?

GB: Who are you with?

CP: I’m with, uh, City Paper, in Baltimore.

GB: OK, yeah.

CP: [Not because I want to get even with him for asking me who I am “with,” but more just wanting to make sure, because I am not sure 100 percent if Mr. Butler is from Scotland, and if it is potentially offensive to ask somebody from Wales if they are from England, or somebody from Scotland if they are from Wales, or maybe somebody from Scotland if they are from the U.K.] Where are you from?

GB: Scotland.

CP: Baltimore’s a lot like Glasgow.

GB: Oh, it is?

CP: [Convoluted, overlong statement displaying my knowledge of how sometimes a movie will photograph one city, “doubling” it for another city, instead of just asking Mr. Butler where did they shoot the movie.]

GB: Funnily enough, it was Shreveport, La., which looks nothing like D.C., but we used a lot of plate shots [shots of an empty location] for D.C., because we built a White House in Shreveport, which was hilarious, so people thought, Oh, this is amazing, we’re getting our own White House, and then [SPOILER REDACTED]. There were a few days when we had 115 degrees, and it was the days we were shooting the exterior action sequences, when I’m runnin’ and runnin’ and runnin’ around, and the idea is I’ve been running for a mile by the time I get [to the White House], so for every take—and we probably did, over the week, 250 takes—it was so hot, we had seven shirts, and they would be cycling them through, dryin’ them out, passin’ ’em back on, cyclin’ out cyclin’ out cyclin’ out. It was unbearable. There’s times that you’re literally, “I can’t go on, I can’t go on,” because the other thing is then there’s explosions, fires everywhere, even if it had been the middle of winter, you’d have been warm. It was intense. This whole movie was intense; you’ve seen it, you know. You can imagine the amount I have to kick ass in it. [Laughs] This is Baltimore-speak! If it’s like Glasgow!

CP: I went to Glasgow when I was 17 with a friend of mine who had family there.

GB: Did you like it?

CP: When I wasn’t getting chased, or almost getting my ass kicked—

GB: Then it’s fun! When you’re not gettin’ your ass kicked! That’s a great way to describe Glasgow, “When you’re not gettin’ your ass kicked, it’s a good town.”

CP: There’s a lot I don’t remember, because I was 17 years old and I managed to get served everywhere, so that was fun, plus on top of that I was an American, so I was like a thing from a zoo and everybody was trying to get me loaded.

GB: You’re either gonna get punched or fucked.

CP: I went into a bar, I had a green shirt, and I had a jacket on over it, and I went into this bar with some friends, and I sat down and took the jacket off, and I had a green shirt with yellow sleeves, and it was an Orange bar—

GB: Ohh.

CP: All these hands came out and grabbed the jacket and put it back on my shoulders, but then for the rest of the night, they would reach over and pull down the jacket and show people, “See? Look at this idiot.” I had no idea about any of that stuff.

GB: [Laughs] Oh, it’s crazy. You say that, and it’s like saying, “I walked into the favelas in Brazil with a fucking T-shirt on saying ‘I hate Brazilian cunts.’”

CP: Kill me.

GB: Kill me! Exactly. Target!

[Awkward pause]

GB: I think we’re gonna miss Antoine, because he’s on a tight schedule.

CP: I’m probably not gonna get him. [Reacting to a Movie Person giving me the “peace” sign] Peace. Oh no, you meant “two minutes.”

GB: We’ll have to—we had no interview!

CP: Whaddya mean? This is an interview.

GB: Is this how we do it, yeah?

CP: It’s how I do it.

GB: OK, cool.

CP: What am I gonna do, ask you, you know, I don’t know, “Did you like the blue shirt that you wore in the movie?”

GB: [Laughs]

CP: We already covered your shirt, we’re good.

GB: So it’s, we’re just sittin’ chattin’?

CP: I just figured out that everybody else does interviewing better than me—

GB: Right.

CP: So I’ll just talk, and you guys’ll talk, and that’ll be it.

GB: [Cracking up]

CP: You’re in a movie.

GB: I wanna live in Baltimore. I fuckin’ love that. This is like an interview in Glasgow, they’d be like “blah blah blah Celtic-Rangers, blah, two minutes, anyway, listen we’re just talking, I mean, fuck it, who gives a shit, yes, you’re in a movie.” But did you like the movie?

CP: [Overly long answer explaining my Grand Theory of the movie with a buncha spoilers, then, noting Movie Person doing circular “wind it up” hand signal] Whoo-oo! [To Movie Person] That means wrap it up, right?

MP: Yeah.

CP: [Rising from my chair, to Mr. Butler] All right, thank you.

GB: [Laughs] What a fuckin’ pleasure.

CP: [Shaking Mr. Butler’s hand] God bless. You’re doing the Lord‘s work.

GB: All the things you said?

CP: Yeah.

GB: Just make it that I said it, OK? So that I said something.

CP: I’ll turn it around. [To director Antoine Fuqua, entering the room as I am exiting] Good morning.

Antoine Fuqua [possibly to me]: Morning.

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