It always seems like Gerard Butler is either kicking bad-guy ass in high profile action flicks or stealing a woman’s heart in some cheery romantic comedy, but thankfully for the male demographic his newest role sees him rescuing the president after the White House is taken by terrorists in the upcoming film Olympus Has Fallen. Doing his best John McClane impression, Butler attempts to recreate Die Hard in a political setting, while both facing off and working with a star-studded cast.
At the recent New York City press day for Olympus Has Fallen, I had the privilege of sitting down with Gerard and hearing about his experiences on the film while he playfully jested with the few of us present. Whether it was trying to sneak up on us before entering the room or correcting one of my colleague’s grammar, Butler’s personality was jovial and uplifting, making this one of the funnier conversations I’ve been lucky enough to partake in.
Check it out below.
Butler started off by telling us what drew him to Olympus Has Fallen, pointing towards a real sense of heroics and personal strength he saw in his character:
Gerard Butler: I read the script, and I was immediately blown away by what a ballsy, audacious concept this was, about an attack being carried out on the White House from every direction, and the genius of moving through the inside and how once the White House is taken, the whole world comes to a stop in a way. What happens then? What’s that standoff situation? How do you make that as fascinating and compelling as possible? A president being held for ransom, demands that could change the planet, one man inside there who has to find information, find out a purpose, find out any way to defeat them, how to establish communications with the outside – that’s the dressing, the flesh. The bones, or the heart of the story is all about heroism and how there are heroes in every person in every situation, and how these impossible challenges bring out the hero in all of us.
I also felt it had a lot of themes. It had the political themes, but also had the more personal, intimate themes we could all universally connect with about sacrifice, courage, and about facing up to a challenge in life. What do the most difficult, impossible challenges bring out of us in our darkest hour, what do we do? I think that in a lot of ways you finish this movie with a lot of patriotism if you’re an American, but I think it’s a sense of community because these aren’t just attacks on America – these are attacks on the world. It could just as easily be the House of Parliament or anywhere, so we all connect with that and we make it an attack on ourselves, on our people – our good people, our innocent people, the people that are servicing our country. As you can see, as I’m talking way too much, it brought out a lot in me.
Butler was then asked about the militaristic and governmental details he learned on Olympus Has Fallen, being about a hypothetical attack on the White House and the government’s realistic response. We jested if he’d been put on any blacklists for knowing too much, but thankfully Gerard assured us this wasn’t the case:
Gerard Butler: No, I didn’t actually, but I might be now!
No, we didn’t, and that’s probably why we didn’t film in Washington and did down in Shreveport, Louisiana. We used that North/South divide.
Listen, on the one hand, we want to make this attack as visceral, plausible, and calculated as possible, in a way that an audience will sit there and say “Holy shit, this is really happening, or this could happen!” We used a lot of very important specialists in doing that who said “these are ways you can do it.” However, they didn’t tell us everything. There’s plenty more they would have up their sleeves in such a situation, and you also use a bit of poetic license. It’s a heightened reality – there’s certain things you do that maybe wouldn’t have happened, but you even pull that down and you make it look like it could. So when you’re watching this attack, it all makes perfect sense.
That was a thing we said, “How would you do it. How would this happen, and if that happened how would they do it, and if…so on and so on.” You make it as methodically planned out as possible. The more methodical and precise it would be – that’s what’s shocking. That’s what leaves you breathless and kind of ripped apart by the end as suddenly the White House has been taken down, it’s been seized by terrorists, and the president is now a hostage in an impenetrable underground bunker – and nobody can do shit after that. You can have an army of one million people but it doesn’t matter, you cannot do anything in that situation. That’s the genius of the plan, and then, then you have a movie.
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