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Butler Bringing The Action Back for 'Gamer'

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - It was Gerard Butler’s first UFC event, and the star of the upcoming film “Gamer” (which opens in theaters this Friday, September 4th), and as he makes clear, being in Philadelphia for UFC 101 earlier this month was quite an eye-opening experience.

By Thomas Gerbasi

It was Gerard Butler’s first UFC event, and the star of the upcoming film “Gamer” (which opens in theatres this Friday, September 4th), and as he makes clear, being in Philadelphia for UFC 101 earlier this month was quite an eye-opening experience.

“It’s pretty much been about ten years, since a great game of Scottish soccer – the Celtic Rangers – that I have experienced anything like that,” said Butler. “But I’ve got to be honest – this tops it. I didn’t realize how intense it was going to be until I stepped in there. And it’s getting crazier by the second.”

That kinda sounds like “Gamer”, which is an action-thriller that focuses on a multiplayer online video game where humans are controlled by other humans. Butler plays Kable, a champion of the game who is trying to regain his freedom. If that sounds like the groundwork for a high-octane ride for moviegoers, it is.

“This movie is just full-on from start to finish,” said Butler. “From the first frame, it’s crazy. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that was so full of action, and there’s a great story going on there as well.”

“Imagine a first person shooter game with real people,” adds Butler’s castmate Terry Crews, who plays Hackman. “And then you take those real people, who are on death row, so they feel like they’re pretty expendable anyway, and they have to survive. It’s like the new, futuristic American Idol – American Idol with blood. So you’re talking about a lot of these concepts – from reality and fighting, to what does it take to be famous. We’re not too far from when people actually start to murder to get fame. And we kinda bring those questions up in a way.”

And there’s no one better to play the lead role than Scotland’s Butler, who is best known for his role as King Leonidas in the film “300”, an intense performance that was probably memorized by all the men in the audience at the Wachovia Center on August 8th – well, almost all of them.

“When I walked in, the biggest guy I met was this huge guy, and he said, ‘man, I loved your movie. Me and my girlfriend went and saw ‘PS, I Love You,’” he laughs. “I couldn’t believe it. But “300”, I can’t think of a more suitable movie for this crowd, so I’ve been getting a lot of attention, and that’s great to think that people get what you do and get inspired by that.”

Adds Crews, “This is the guy from 300, this is Leonidas, and the way he played that character resonated with every man out there. I don’t care who you are or how tough you are, the passion he brings on the screen is palatable. When I first met him, I was like ‘wow, that’s Leonidas.’ I was star-struck. And then he kicked me in the face.”

The two laugh about this on set mishap before Crews, a former NFL defensive end, explains.

“I spent seven years in the NFL, which was crazy, but very few things prepared me for the fight scenes that we had to do,” he said. “I took a straight knee in the eyeball from this guy (Butler), because this was the intensity that we were bringing. You can’t fake it. It’s gotta look good, and it’s gotta go all the way. In a love scene, you gotta really almost fall in love a little bit, and in a fight scene, you almost gotta hate a little bit. This is a natural part of acting, and we took it there. When you see it, you’ll see that it was all there.”

UFC light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine, who also has a small role in the film, certainly approves of the realistic action on display in “Gamer”, as well as the story.

“It’s a really cool concept,” said ‘The Dean of Mean’. “It’s kinda like Running Man, where people go through this game show where if they pass a certain amount of scenes they get set free, but no one ever passes because it’s so hard, and someone is basically controlling each person like a video game. I happen to be one of the characters who’s an ex-convict, and I’m out there shooting people, blowing people up, and doing a lot of cool stuff, and I got a death scene, which is really cool.”

The film also comes right on time for Butler, whose recent hits “P.S. I Love You” and “The Ugly Truth” have been far cries from the type of intense action that “Gamer” and “300” deliver.

“I guess in your life it swings around about,” he said. “You spend some times happy, some times sad, some times angry, some times soft, so there’s a time for everything, and if I go do a romantic comedy or comedy, that’s my chance to get my humor out and be silly and fun. And then there’s a time to get serious and remind yourself that you’re a man (Laughs), and that’s what we did in this movie.”

“Gamer” opens in theaters this Friday, September 4th.