My vices brought me to where I am today, says Butler

Obsession with many vices has brought me to where I am today, says Gerard Butler

GERARD Butler has joked he’s swapped his obsession with alcohol for sex.

The 41-year old Hollywood hunk, whose next starring role is in movie Machine Gun Preacher, has been linked to a string of Tinseltown’s finest, including Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz and Naomi Campbell.

In his twenties, as a trainee lawyer in Glasgow, the star from Paisley battled with the demon drink, admitting he would often head-butt walls.

One one occasion, he woke up in Paris bloodied and bruised five miles from a party with no recollection of what had happened.

Teetotal for over a decade, Gerard now has to deny a string of big-name relationships that has given him a reputation as a lothario.

But he admitted that he is a man of extremes. He said: “I have many obsessions that years of therapy haven’t quite got rid of but they certainly diagnosed that I had them.

“I’m not going to go into too many details but the main one is three letters – the first one is S and the third one is X.

“No! I’m joking. Please remember I’m joking. But I do get obsessed with many things.

“My obsessions have led me down some winding, dark roads.

“And many have brought me to the place I am at today because I really grab on to them with both hands and bite into them.”

And with comments like that it’s no wonder he has a reputation but for now he’s single.

Although he looks different from his role in 300 – gone are the muscles and his hair has been bleached for his new surfer film Mavericks – it seems Gerard will never escape his break-out role as King Leonidas in the hyper-real swords and sandals flick.

He admitted: “I was using a public toilet at an airport recently when I suddenly got the, ‘This is Sparta’ shout.

“I was like, ‘Okay,’ while everyone carried on about their business.”

The tough role in 300, which saw bloody slow-motion fight scenes, can lead to him getting a hard time from have-a-go guys who think they can take him on.

He laughed: “I’m a Glasgow boy so I know how to look after myself.

“Most of the time, though, it’s guys coming up to me going, ‘My wife loves you,’ or, ‘My girlfriend thinks you’re great. You’d be her one free pass.’

“And I’m like, ‘Well, you’re taking it very well.’

“I always feel a bit uncomfortable when they do that.”

Gerard, who comes home regularly to visit his parents in Comrie, Perthshire, is hoping to work in Scotland on a new project in a couple of years.

The long-running Robert Burns movie he’s taking the title role in looks, finally, to be getting the green light.

He said: “Actually we just got another writer on it, who I think will really freshen it up.

“So it will still be a year or two away but I would love that to be made, but if we do it, we have to do it right.”

And while he is back in Scotland, he may have to take part in a spot of golf, even though it’s something he’s not fanatical about. Gerard said: “I haven’t completely ignored it but it’s never been something that’s completely engulfed me either.

“I play with the family and my mum has taken it up now so whenever I go home I play with my stepfather and my mother.

“She’s actually very good.”

Last seen in the limp rom-com The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston, new film Machine Gun Preacher will show a much more serious side to the actor.

The movie tells the true story of Sam Childers, a drug-dealing biker who became the saviour of hundreds of Sudanese children after he found God and travelled to Africa as a missionary.

Gerard describes the role as his most intense and many are already tipping the movie for attention in this coming awards season. The very real and gritty Childers brought out that obsessive side in Butler – one that in the past made him go beyond the call of duty to be physically ready for a role.

This time the agony was purely psychological, with the actor admitting to struggling with the reality of his character and the suffering in Sudan.

He said: “Physically it’s not the best shape I’ve been in. Sam Childers is fit but he’s not in the most incredible shape. So I could lay off that part of it. Thank God.

“But emotionally it was without doubt the most intense journey I’ve ever been on.

“You spend a lot of time thinking about what it’s like to be in places where you can’t imagine being.”

Gerard went to visit American-born Sam and went through a hair-raising test.

He revealed: “We arrived in his house and he was surrounded by a lot of his family and a couple of preacher friends.

“He was kind of in his own domain and in his element and enjoying the space and the attention – and quite rightly so.

“He had a toothpick in his mouth and this little cocky smile as if he was going, ‘Okay what ya got for me?’ Actually, I sat down and he was like, ‘Here, take this,’ and he gives me a gun. I’m like, ‘Okay, I know this is a bit of a test,’ so I start playing with the gun.

“Then I thought maybe I should brandish it so everyone would go, ‘Woah, woah,’ and duck with me going, ‘That’s a loaded gun? Why are you giving me a loaded gun in a small room full of 15 people?’

“So there went the first test.”

The pair bonded and, despite the biker image, Gerard saw Sam as someone with “incredible charisma” but who could be “very dangerous as well”.

Although a biopic, Gerard wasn’t too worried about playing Sam totally spot on.

He said: “I’m not playing JFK. I’m not playing Hitler – I don’t have to get every hair on the head and every little tick right.”

But he must have done a pretty good job as there is already talk about nominations for Gerard.

He’s not getting excited, though.

He said: “I just hope people go and see the movie and like it.

“Really, at the end of the day, that’s what I love.

“When I can see people coming out of this movie looking like they were touched by it, then that’s the most exciting thing.”

● Machine Gun Preacher is released on November 18.