Gerard Butler chats about playing the action hero in 'Olympus Has Fallen'
If you had to pick one current actor to save the day after North Korean mercenaries took over the White House, taking the president and several top cabinet members hostage, Gerard Butler would be the guy. What's the fate of the free world to the man who took on the Persian god Xerxes with a miniscule Spartan army in "300"?
That's the operating principle behind Antoine Fuqua's "Olympus Has Fallen," opening tomorrow, in which Butler plays former Secret Service agent Mike Banning, who wanders into the White House and becomes freedom's last hope as the baddies get closer to control over the U.S. nuclear system.
What sounds like a goofy combination of "Die Hard" and "Air Force One" is, in fact, not as far-fetched it seems, Butler says.
"In some ways, it's a fun, entertaining action movie, and a lot of people will go see it for that reason, but I think you're really taken by surprise by the specificity, the rawness of the attack and how believable it is," the 43-year-old says.
To be sure, the movie isn't entirely a fantastical one-man-against-the-world enterprise. Secret Service agents advised the production and Butler's Banning has a support team for his quest: A crisis room led by Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House.
"You realize that in the crisis room at the end of the day they are just human beings, regular people," Butler says.
The actor says he and Fuqua worked to fine-tune the script with multiple writers, "to get more personality, to show more specificity of what goes on in the White House."
So does the veteran of multiple box office hits want to write and direct some day?
"When it comes to writing a whole script, I'm not sure that's what I'm best at. Maybe one day I'll direct, but right now I think I gotta learn how to act first."