The very last gala night of the sixth Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) took place last night at Madinat Arena with none other than Hollywood star Gerard Butler taking to the red carpet. It saw the Middle Eastern premiere of James Cameron’s hotly anticipated blockbuster, Avatar.
The 40-year-old actor, who’s known for his roles in movies including 300, PS I love you, and The Ugly Truth was in the emirate to accept Variety magazine’s award for International Star of the Year. Prior to the premiere, the star met media and fans to talk about his career. Here’s what he had to say:
How does it feel to be accepting this award?
It’s very exciting and a huge honour to be here to accept this award. I don’t get many awards so I’m definitely going to cherish this one. It has been about 12 or 13 years since I started acting professionally, so it no longer feels like yesterday. It has been a long journey. It’s great to be here, but unfortunately it’s a flying visit this time around so I don’t have the time to do anything. However, I’ve been here before and I can say that Dubai is very flashy and sexy.
Acting wasn’t the path you set out to do, right?
No, not at all. I actually trained to be lawyer for seven years, and I royally messed it up. After that I moved to London, and took up acting. I didn’t set out to do it or anything like many people have, but it just goes to show that if you want to do something, you can do it no matter what.
Do you have any regrets?
Not at all. I’ve been through some good stuff and a lot of bad stuff, and that’s what makes you a person. And I’ve brought my experiences into my acting.
Your next movie being released in the UAE is Law Abiding Citizen. Tell us more about it.
I was initially meant to play the hero, which is now Jamie Foxx’s character in the film, but I just didn’t want to play that role. I fancied doing the killer – this twisted character. And it’s great that I asked to do it, because it challenged me. Whether it’s personally or professionally, I like taking the difficult route. I’m motivated by the huge fear of being crap, and so I think that’s what pushes me forward.
You’ve mentioned that you sometimes find it hard to deal with the press. What is the question you wish journalists would stop asking you?
I wish they would stop asking me about dating Jennifer Aniston. Don’t get me wrong, she is one of my most favourite people on this planet… she’s so cool. But there’s nothing there. And I don’t like how it gets dragged out in the media all the time.
Speaking of being associated with female celebrities, you recently took a trip to India. How did you feel about constantly being linked to Priyanka Chopra?
Again, it’s frustrating, because Priyanka and I are very good friends. I remember the first day I arrived, she threw a party for me, and three days later Shah Rukh Khan threw a party for me. I felt like the most loved person in the world. I love India though – it’s one of my top three favourite places in the world. I love the people – they’re the best. They are some of the most kind-hearted and generous and welcoming people I have ever met.
So what about acting in a Bollywood or Arab movie – would you consider it?
Yes, I definitely would – I may need to learn the languages though! But unfortunately, nobody has offered me any roles yet, so come on!
If you read a script and think it’s fantastic, but it’s low budget and hence the pay won’t be as good as a Hollywood movie. Would you still do it?
Absolutely. I’m producing two movies at the moment and they’re low budget. I’m sure I’m getting 10 cents for each one! But if it’s an interesting project, I take it.
Gerard Butler Biography (highlights)
– He was born in Glasgow on November 13, 1969, but was raised in Paisley, Scotland
– His stage debut was at the age of 12 in the musical Oliver
– In 1996, he won the lead role in the stage production of Trainspotting
– He made his film debut as Billy Connolly’s younger brother in Mrs Brown