Birthdate: November 13, 1969
Birthplace: Paisley, Scotland, UK
Gerard Butler (birthname: Gerard James Butler) is one of Hollywood’s hardest-working action stars, amassing a large number of credits in commercial thrillers and action vehicles which are generally popular with audiences. His professional break was provided by the great British actor-director-playwright Steven Berkoff, who cast Butler in one of his first auditions for a role in Berkoff’s version of Corionlanus.
This followed with a successful starring role in the stage version of Trainspotting, leading to his screen debut opposite Judi Dench and Billy Connolly in Mrs. Brown (1997) under John Madden’s direction. His next part was in the Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), with Pierce Brosnan, followed by Russell Mulcahy’s Tale of the Mummy (1998), with Jason Scott Lee, Honor Blackman, and Christopher Lee.
Gerard Butler earned his first starring role in writer-director Stewart Sugg’s British crime drama, Fast Food (1998), with Sean Hughes and Douglas Henshall, and then co-starred in one of his few Scottish-made movies, One More Kiss, a rom-com directed and produced by Vadim Jean. Butler joined the cast of Charlotte Rampling, Alan Bates, Katrin Cartlidge, Frances De La Tour, and Michael Gough in writer-director Michael Cacoyannis’ version of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (1999), followed by his first starring Hollywood role as Count Dracula in Dracula 2000 (2000), with Jonny Lee Miller, Jennifer Esposito, Omar Epps, and Christopher Plummer, grossing under its $54 million budget at $47 million.
Butler’s next assignment was a supporting role in writer-director Elie Chouraqui’s Harrison’s Flowers (2000), starring Andie Balkan-set wartime drama, MacDowell, Elias Koteas, Brenden Gleeson, Adrien Brody, and David Strathairn. Gerard Butler returned to the crime genre for the British-made Shooters (2002), co-directed by Colin Teague and Glenn Durfort, with Adrian Dunbar, Andrew Howard, Matthew Rhys, and Melanie Lynskey, and then turned back to Hollywood for Touchstone Pictures’ dragon-laden sci-fi fantasy, Reign of Fire (2002), starring Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale, but failing to turn a profit with only $82.2 million return on a $60 million budget.
Butler played opposite Angelina Jolie in director Jan de Bont’s sequel, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider—The Cradle of Life (2003), with Noah Taylor, Ciaran Hinds, Djimon Hounsou, and Til Schweiger, and though it failed to match the original’s box-office numbers, it did gross a respectable $160 million. After the box-office bomb, Timeline (2003), a sci-fi movie directed by Richard Donner and in which Butler co-starred opposite Paul Walker and Frances O’Connor, Butler made a major name for himself in the title role of the anticipated movie version of The Phantom of the Opera (2004), co-written by the musical’s creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber with director Joel Schumacher, and featuring Emily Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, and Minnie Driver, earning a solid $154.6 million globally.
Gerard Butler made one of his rare Scottish indie movies with director Shona Auerbach in Dear Frankie (2004), co-starring Emily Mortimer and winning two BAFTA Scotland awards. Butler joined Wes Bentley, Patrick Stewart, and Terry Kinney as stars of the soccer drama, The Game of Their Lives (2005), which earned only 1/3 of a million dollars worldwide on a $13 million budget. Butler played Beowulf in a Canadian-Icelandic production of the ancient tale, titled for the screen as Beowulf & Grendel (2005), with Stellan Skarsgård, Ingvar Sigurðsson, Sarah Polley, Eddie Marsan, and Tony Curran (which also involved a documentary about the eventful making of the movie, Wrath of Gods (2006), which Butler co-produced).
Gerard Butler’s breakthrough as a box-office star was as King Leonidas in Zack Snyder’s smash hit for Warner Bros., 300 (2006), with Michael Fassbender, Dominic West, and Lena Headey, earning over $456 million globally. After co-starring with Pierce Brosnan and Maria Bello in the Mike Barker-directed mystery, Butterfly on a Wheel (2007), Butler starred in the commercial hit and rom-com by writer-director Richard LaGravenese, P.S. I Love You (2007), with Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow, Harry Connick Jr., Gina Gershon, and Kathy Bates, grossing nearly $157 million.
Butler’s box-office streak continued with the U.S.-Australian co-production, Nim’s Island (2008), opposite Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin, earning over $100 million globally, and then under writer-director Guy Ritchie’s helming in the crime thriller, RocknRolla (2008), Butler led a cast featuring Tom Wilkinson, Thandiwe Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, and Tom Hardy, with a global gross of $25 million.
Gerard Butler’s stardom was further solidified with Sony’s hit rom-com, The Ugly Truth (2009), directed by Robert Luketic and starring Katherine Heigl, earning over $205 million worldwide. Butler’s box-office streak ended (just $42 million on a $50 million budget) with Gamer, a generally panned sci-fi action movie written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor with Michael C. Hall, Amber Valletta, Terry Crews, and Kyra Sedgwick. Butler expanded his portfolio to producer-star in the F. Gary Gray-directed Law Abiding Citizen (2009), co-starring Jamie Foxx, Regina Hall, Bruce McGill, and Colm Meaney, and grossing $127 million globally. Butler continued a pattern of critically lambasted but commercially successful movies with the action comedy, The Bounty Hunter (2010), tripling costs with a $136.3 return.
In his first significant voice performance, Gerard Butler played opposite Jay Baruchel, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kristen Wiig in DreamWorks Animation’s smash, How to Train Your Dragon, grossing $495 million worldwide.
Butler returned to his Shakespearean roots as Tullus in director-star Ralph Fiennes’ fascinating version of Coriolanus (2011), with Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox, and Jessica Chastain, premiering at the Berlin film festival. Butler’s next festival premiere was at the Toronto film festival for the Marc Forster-directed Machine Gun Preacher (2011), with Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon, followed by the surfing biopic for which Butler produced and starred under Curtis Hanson’s and Michael Apted’s direction, Chasing Mavericks (2012) while failing to return its $20 million budget ($7 million box office).
One of Butler’s rare commercial bombs during this period was the rom-com, Playing for Keeps (2012), which he produced and led the cast of Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Quaid, and Judy Greer, earning only $27.8 million globally. Launching the successful Has Fallen franchise, Gerard Butler starred (as well as produced) in Olympus Has Fallen (2013), directed by Antoine Fuqua and co-starring Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, and Ashley Judd, earning a global take of $170 million. Butler then starred in consecutive sequels: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)—grossing a strong $621 million--and 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), earning a brawny $337 million worldwide.
After serving as producer only for Septembers of Shiraz (2015), starring Adrien Broady, Salma Hayek, and Shohreh Aghdashloo and premiering at the Toronto film festival, Butler starred in the Alex Proyas-directed epic, Gods of Egypt (2016), co-starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Chadwick Boseman, and Geoffrey Rush, though it suffered from negative reviews and poor box office ($150 million return on a $140 million budget).
Gerard Butler’s second entry in the Has Fallen series, London Has Fallen (2016), for which he again starred and produced, featured a cast of Eckhart, Freeman, Bassett, Forster, Melissa Leo, Jackie Earle Haley, and Radha Mitchell, and grossed a hefty $205 million globally. Butler turned to drama for the Bill Dubuque-written and Mark Williams-directed A Family Man (2016), with Gretchen Mol, Alison Brie, Alfred Molina, and Willem Dafoe, premiering at the Toronto film festival.
One of Butler’s few commercial bombs during this highly successful period was writer-producer-director Dean Devlin’s critically lambasted sci-fi disaster movie, Geostorm (2017), setting studio Warner Bros. back $74 million, followed by another Butler-starring-and-produced action movie, Den of Thieves (2018), featuring Pablo Schreiber and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and written and directed by Christian Gudegast, while earning a potent $80 million globally.
Although it failed at the box office (only $1.2 million return), the U.K.-made psychological drama, The Vanishing (2018), with Butler starring Peter Mullan, was one of producer Butler’s best-reviewed movies to date. After the generally dismissed action vehicle, Hunter Killer (2018), with Gary Oldman and Common, Gerard Butler returned as a voice actor in the series finale, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019), grossing a solid $525 million globally.
As producer only, Butler helped shepherd Britt Poulton’s and Dan Madison Savage’s strong Pentecostal drama, Them That Follow (2019), starring Olivia Colman, Kaitlyn Dever, Walton Goggins, and Jim Gaffigan, and premiering in competition at the Sundance film festival. Butler’s next star-producer project was the third Has Fallen entry, Angel Has Fallen (2019), with new cast members Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo, Nick Nolte, and Danny Huston, and earning a solid $146 million worldwide.
After working with director Ric Roman Waugh on Angel Has Fallen, producer-star Gerard Butler reunited with Waugh on the disaster thriller, Greenland (2020), with Morena Baccarin, Scott Glenn, and Hope Davis, and gaining mostly good reviews and profitable box-office returns of $52.3 million. Producer-star Butler collaborated with writer-director Joe Carnahan on the well-reviewed crime thriller, Copshop (2021), with Frank Grillo and Alexis Louder, earning only $6.8 million globally.
After his first Netflix movie (the actioner Last Seen Alive (2022)), Gerard Butler soon returned to the big screen with Lionsgate’s well-received action vehicle, Plane (2023), co-starring Mike Colter, Yoson An, and Tony Goldwyn, projected to earn over $50 million worldwide. Star-producer Butler reunited again with director Waugh for the Afghani-set thriller, Kandahar (2023), with Ali Fazal.
Gerard Butler was born and mainly raised in Paisley, Scotland (with some time in Montreal, Canada) by parents Edward (a bookie) and Margaret Butler. He has two older siblings, Brian and Lynn. His parents divorced when Butler was very young; he and his siblings were raised by his mother until she remarried. He attended St. Mirin’s & St. Margaret’s High School, joined the Scottish Youth Theater, and then studied law at the University of Glasgow School of Law (from which he took off a year to live in Los Angeles, mainly in Venice Beach).
He was selected as president of the school’s law society. Butler pursued a law career after graduation, but his perpetual drinking led to him being fired as a trainee lawyer at an Edinburgh firm a week before he would gain full status as a lawyer. He moved to London, driven by a need to be famous, but struggled in a number of odd jobs, including a toy demonstrator at fairs. After landing significant theater work in London, Butler moved to Los Angeles, where he truly launched his movie career.
Since 2011, he has divided his time between Los Angeles and Glasgow. He is an investor in the Jamaica Tallawahs cricket team. Butler’s philanthropy has included support for Mary’s Meals, Liberia’s international development charity program, and has supported fundraising for the Israeli Defense Forces. Butler’s height is 6’ 2”. Butler’s estimated net worth is $80 million.
What’s in a Name?: Gerard Butler’s first name is pronounced differently from standard English; it sounds like “chair-erred.”
Ear Problems: Butler had ear surgery as a child, resulting in a deformed ear; he suffers from tinnitus and hearing loss in his right ear.
Absent Father: Gerard Butler didn’t see his father Edward between ages 1½ and 16 when he reunited with him for a meeting in a restaurant. Butler said he cried for hours after the encounter, noting “that emotion showed me how much pain can sit in this body of yours; pain and sorrow that you don’t know you have until it is unleashed.”
Emergency: Butler experienced a serious surfing accident during the shooting of Chasing Mavericks, when he and three other surfers were caught by freak waves and sent underwater, and across a reef. After his rescue, Butler was hospitalized for minor injuries.
Fire Victim: Gerard Butler’s home was destroyed in the devastating Woolsey Fire, which burned nearly 100,000 across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties in Southern California.