Gerard Butler believes that his new disaster movie, Greenland, will resonate more strongly with viewers following the events of 2020.
When talking to Gerard Butler about his disaster-thriller Greenland during the height of the pandemic in the US, he has a wry take on whether all his apocalyptic movies have prepared him for COVID-19.
“I’ve definitely spent much time on sets contemplating, ‘What if this was a reality?’” says the actor who’s been tasked with saving the world, or at least its leaders, in his successful Fallen franchise; racing to save the planet in sci-fi thriller Geostorm; and now fighting for survival in the face of an extinction-level threat posed by an approaching comet in Greenland.
“So then suddenly when it’s [the pandemic] here, I’m asking myself, ‘Oh my God, this is actually happening!’ Can I live up to the man I am in those movies?” he laughs.
“I love the idea that when you play a hero that maybe you inspire people to be heroes in their own lives. And that could be literally at work or at home or in their marital experience or whatever it is… To try and better themselves or try and take the higher road.
Greenland sees Butler and Morena Baccarin playing an estranged couple who, together with their young son, are among the very few to be chosen for air transport to the safety of a top secret bunker in Greenland, only to see their good fortune go horribly wrong when they’re separated minutes before take-off.
“It’s not about your typical hero punching the comet in the face!” he says. “You’re involved with this family. These are intimate character portraits. The themes are family, renewal, humanity – what life is really about. I found that to be very deep and powerful.”
If Greenland was already scheduled for release pre-pandemic, then Butler reckons the film resonates more strongly now that the world has had a taste of real disaster.
“I watched the movie with audiences before the pandemic, and they loved it. But I’ve also watched it with audiences since the pandemic and there’s so much more resonance and empathy, this cathartic experience and understanding now because of what’s going on, whereas before you might just feel distanced because it’s such a crazy reality.
“But now people are more into the film because they think, ‘Damn, this is not so far away from where we are.’ And yet at the same time it’s still escapism, it’s still a comet hitting the Earth, which is not going to happen, and you can almost come out of there going, ‘Alright, well I am living in a messed up reality right now, but it’s not as messed up as the film I just saw. At least 90 per cent of humanity has not just been completely wiped out.’”
Joining us, Baccarin agrees that viewers might now relate more deeply to Greenland’s themes of survival.
“I feel like this has been one of those things that you will remember for the rest of your life, so I think the movie resonates in that sense. The themes very much match what we have all experienced, which is obviously not knowing what’s going on, not having information, the desperation in wanting to make sure that your family is okay.
“And then the broader themes of what is important, what do we really care about right now? The film works well with showing every spectrum of how humanity deals with a crisis, from the good to the bad and everything in between,” she says.
When STACK asks Butler what special skills he personally possesses in order to be selected to be saved in the event of a real comet heading for Earth, he lets out a huge laugh.
“You’ve obviously never seen my belly wobble! I do a mean belly wobble and I feel like if I was just given a chance to speak to the powers that be, and they could see my belly wobble, they might let me in. Or I would say, ‘Hey, I just happened to make a movie about this very subject, don’t I deserve to get in?’ But otherwise no, I’m pretty screwed, if people want to eat more than hard boiled eggs, I’m not getting in.”
After offering our commiserations, he shoots back: “Don’t worry, neither are you! Journalists and actors, we are at the bottom of the list!”
Greenland is out on June 2 – PRE-ORDER your copy today