Fractured bones, knee injuries didn’t stop Gerard Butler from movies

He has cultivated an image as a tough guy over two decades of starring in action thrillers, but no role could have prepared Gerard Butler for his excruciating motorbike crash.

The 48-year-old Scot - best known as hard-as-nails Spartan leader Leonidas in the 2006 action fantasy 300 - was riding in Los Angeles in October when his motorbike and a car collided, sending him somersaulting into the air.

"I fractured five bones in my right foot and had a microfracture in each foot and a pinched nerve and a bruised bone, and injured my ankle and both knees," he said.

The damage couldn't have come at a worse time, as he was in the middle of publicising climate thriller Geostorm while also shooting scenes for heist movie Den Of Thieves and military actioner Hunter Killer.

"I was in seven countries over five weeks and I could barely walk, and it was maybe the toughest period of my life - going on talk shows, pretending you're good," he recalled with a grimace.

In terms of aches and scrapes, last year was a doozy, the actor said in a recent interview in Beverly Hills to promote his role as an elite cop in Den Of Thieves, which is currently showing here.


"I put on 25 pounds (11kg) - at one point, I was 30 pounds heavier - just to play that character, and on the final day of shooting, I hurt my knee during an action scene," he said.

"Unfortunately, I'd already committed to starring in another movie eight days later - Keepers, in Scotland - which, when I arrived, I realised was all on the side of a mountain - six weeks of walking up and down a mountain. By the time I'd finished that, both knees were screwed. And then I had a motorbike accident where I landed on my knees, so it has been an interesting year of challenges."

Den Of Thieves follows the intersecting lives of the major crimes unit of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department - known as the "Regulators" - and the "Outlaws", an elite band of robbers.

With an ensemble cast that includes hip-hop star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, rapper Ice Cube's son O'Shea Jackson Jr and a particularly buff-looking Pablo Schreiber, it may be the first movie in which Butler has had serious competition for the position of alpha male.

"I haven't seen that amount of testosterone and kind of alpha, predator, apex energy since 300 - and even then not as much among the lead characters," he joked.

He admitted there was a "healthy sizing each other up" on set but added that it was nice to work with "a bunch of good dudes with good hearts".

No movie is above scrutiny from the Hollywood press when it comes to gender and racial diversity, and not even a self-consciously macho heist movie gets a pass.

When asked if he thought the pressure for every movie to tick diversity boxes was unrealistic, Butler paused as he measured the tone of his response.

"I think sometimes that pressure is fair. It is a movement I can get behind and I understand it," he said.

"But when people try and apply it to everything, including a movie about a bunch of male undercover cops and a gang of ex-military and say, 'Shouldn't you have some women in there?' - then no.

"You pay lip service to the question and you smile and move on." - AFP