Gerard James Butler is a Scottish actor who has appeared on film, stage, and television. A trained lawyer, Butler turned to acting in the mid-1990s with small roles in productions such as the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, which he followed with steady work on television, most notably in the American miniseries Attila. He garnered critical acclaim for his work as the lead in Joel Schumacher's 2004 film adaptation of the musical The Phantom of the Opera. In 2007, Butler gained recognition through his portrayal of King Leonidas in the film 300. Since then, he has appeared in projects including P.S. I Love You, Nim's Island, RocknRolla, The Ugly Truth, Gamer, Law Abiding Citizen, The Bounty Hunter, and as a voice actor in How to Train Your Dragon.
"I wasn't going to be an actor. I was going to be a lawyer. I came from a family just above working class, just below middle class, a great family of wonderful values. The idea of me having a chance for a law degree was enticing. Enticing to me but also very enticing to my family. Wow, one of our own is studying law at university!
"I've always kind of had the luck of the devil, even in law school. I kind of blagged my way into the position of president of the Law Society. I'm not the most academic of guys. Considering the amount of work that I put in, it's amazing that I got through law school. And with an honors degree."
"I took some time off and went to America. This is when things started to go a little crazy. Something very compulsive and dark and lusty and pleasurable but damaging took over. It was suddenly knowing I could go out and have a life of traveling, craziness, adventure, partying, women, and all the other things that go with that including a sense of abandonment. Being away from home and not having the same kind of discipline and structure in front of me meant I could do whatever the fuck I wanted, and I did.
"For a while, I was living in an apartment in Venice Beach with three Irish guys who drank every day. It was perfect. We just got smashed. I started getting odd jobs. My buddies turned up one day and said they'd gotten a job working in a carnival that was going around the state fairs in California. In this year out of school, I did many things. I drove from L. A. to Miami, from L. A. to Chicago, from Miami to Chicago. And I kept getting arrested for stupid stuff basically just being too drunk. I was out of control, and justifying it with this idea that I'm young, this is life. This is me just being boisterous. I remember getting arrested once and they actually put me in shackles. I was walking around chained to eight other guys. And technically, I was still president of the Law Society in Glasgow.
"I ended up in L. A. County Jail. I was in a cell with my 501s and my tight leather jacket and my long hair thinking I was Jim Morrison. I can't believe I'm talking about this. I'd better not."
"Fuck, some good stories, though. So then I had to go back and do a final year at university. That's the year you go out and learn the job, not just study theory. You go out to work at a real law firm. By the time I got back, all the big jobs were gone. Except for one firm. There were two hundred applications for that firm, and they were only taking four people.
"I was really out of it when I did the interview. I had done an exam the day before, and we were all a bit of a mess that night. I had to get up the next morning and travel to Edinburgh. I missed the interview, but the firm said, 'No, no, we'll wait for you.' So I get on a train and how should I put this? I used a few aids to get up, and by the time I arrived, you couldn't shut me up. I ended up having a great interview and getting the job. But when I put on a suit and a tie, I became desperately unhappy. There was something else at work, something I didn't have control of. If I hadn't fucked up that job, I wouldn't be sitting here right now. I might be a very mediocre lawyer in some small town in the middle of Scotland.
"I became quite infamous in Scottish legal circles. It's very difficult to be fired as a trainee lawyer they just don't qualify you at the end of two years. But they actually fired me one week before I was due to qualify. I should have seen it coming. The Edinburgh Festival was going. I knew I wasn't going to make it through the festival because it's crazy comedy festivals, music festivals, dancing festivals, and more than anything, drinking festivals. The city is aglow. I went to see a production of Trainspotting. The lead character acts in the scene, steps back and narrates, and then jumps back into the scene. The guy playing the lead role was phenomenal. It was such an incredible atmosphere. And I'm dying inside. This is the life I wanted to live. I can do this. I know I can do this.But it's past now. It's gone. I'm twenty-five. I missed that opportunity. A week later, they fire me."
Gerry tells me how humiliated he was when he told his mother. Everything was lost, except the dreams. The next day he went to London."
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