The star of 300 and Olympus Has Fallen answers the same 10 questions we always ask everyone!
How’s it going, Gerard?
Good! I have to say, I’ve never done an interview like this before - I’m in the car with my mom, stepdad, driver, and assistant!
That doesn’t sound like the time to be doing a Maxim interview.
I know! My mom saw my last interview and goes, “Gerard, why did you swear so much! Can’t you use interesting language?”
Well, we have some interesting questions…
Let’s start off nicely. You’re starring in Olympus Has Fallen – what have you learned about how to protect the President?
Well, you want to try and have the day off when the Korean delegation comes into town! In terms of the secret service, what’s very interesting is that they’re all about investigation, going out and laying plans to make sure nothing does happen. For the secret service, it’s either 100% success or 100% failure. A day where Kennedy gets shot, Reagan gets shot, or the Twin Towers get attacked is a failure, but we take for granted the fact that every single other day is a 100% success, because they’re out there working with the police departments, with the council, with the city, making sure that everything has been checked, double checked, and triple checked.
Did you get to visit the real White House?
No, I didn’t. We didn’t really have the best chance by saying, “Hey guys, can we come and look at your White House because we want to lay it out so we can blow it up?” Our production designer worked on W, though, so he had plans of the White House already. We really focused on asking, what could Banning [Butler’s character] be doing in the White House? What does he do in the White House when improvisation is necessary? Where does he go when he needs ammo, when he needs to scope out the enemy and assess their capabilities, and how many are there? Where are the areas that he knows and they don’t? How does he establish lines of communication to pass on that information? So there are all these things to make the situation fascinating - we really wanted to make this as jaw-dropping and as real, grounded, and gritty as possible, so when the audience is watching, they’re thinking, “Holy shit, is this really happening?” It’s kickass, and it really works on all levels.
Talking of kickass, your most famous role is King Leonidas in 300. How often do you get people quoting lines from that movie at you?
Too often! They’re either saying lines or pulling up their tops, showing me my face tattooed on their breasts. I have literally run into 20 people all around the world with my face tattooed on them.
So do you get to shout, “This! Is! Washington!!” in this film?
This! Is! The White House! When I did the “This is Sparta!” line in 300, we tried all different variations. I did one really quiet and intense, which was nice and interesting, and then we did one that was more in your face and powerful. When we’d finished, I said, “Wait a minute, let me just try something crazy,” and they said, “Yeah, go for it.” I just let out the biggest lion roar that I could - I just let it rip. When I’d finished, I turned around and some of the extras were sniggering. I went over to Zack [Snyder, director] and said, “That was too much,” but he goes, “That was awesome!” I said, “Ok, I guess that could be in the movie…”
What was the last thing you had to apologize for?
It’s hard to get an apology out of me!
Probably not the best time to ask, but what’s your favorite curse word?
Soapy tit wank! The best part is, I just hugged my security guy hello as I was saying that!
Nice! What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?
Oh my God, that’s tough - there’s a lot of competition for that one. I haven’t had a drink in 15 years, but one time I went on a cruise ship and had about 17 Long Island iced teas and 17 Heinekens - I know because they gave me the bill at the end! By that night we were in the middle of the Caribbean and I was hanging off the ship, practically into the ocean, shouting, “Abandon ship!” They almost threw me off the ship the next day, but they didn’t have to, since I spent three days in bed, sick with a mixture of hangover and sea sickness. It was the only time I’ve ever been in Venezuela and I couldn’t get out of my room!
What was your first car?
An old BMW.
Do you have a scar that tells a story?
I have so many scars and broken things from movies, but I want to tell you about a scar that I got in my eye because my mom made me stand on a chair to get a biscuit. I’ve had broken bones and cuts and dashes and tears from movies, but when I was five my mom put the biscuits up high so we wouldn’t be helping ourselves. So, one day I asked to stand up on a chair to get a biscuit and it fell, and the corner of the chair went right into the side of my eye and it made a big hole in there. But what’s cool is that Sean Connery has an identical scar! I was so proud of it, but if it was literally 2mm to the side, it would have gone right through my eye.
Do you have a party trick?
I’m not particularly talented, but I can do a really amazing belly wobble, I’ve been able to do it since I was a kid. Back then I could do situps without ever stopping or getting tired - oh things have changed! - but I can do this alien impersonation where it literally looks like something is about to explode out of my stomach.
So you also lift up your shirt when you meet people, then?
Yeah, haha! That’s not much of a party trick, is it?
What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
The Empire State Building. I just put it in for a minute to show my friends that I could do it, and then I put it back down again.
That was very considerate of you. What’s the one thing to remember in a fist fight?
I would say the most important thing to remember is to kick him in the balls.
So straight in there and fight dirty?
Yeah, for sure. That is the best way to win a fight.
Not stabbing him with a spear or throwing him off a cliff?
You can do that. I was going to say you might not have a cliff to throw him off, but then I’m thinking, you may not be fighting a guy, either, in which case, go for the pussy!
Who was the last person to see you naked?
Tom Cruise! Actually, that would have to be my assistant this morning, because she walked in on me when I came out of the shower, so I end up running backwards through my room with my hand over my private parts, dripping water, trying not to slip on the floor as she turns away and covers her face. It happens a lot, I’m starting to get suspicious…
Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would…
Take a vacation!