The Telegraph
Thursday , December 6 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Your filmography boasts a number of romantic comedies. What about George Dryer in Playing for Keeps hooked you?

I’m a guy who struggles through life just like the next guy. There are a lot of similarities between George’s journey and the journey of an actor. And maybe my journey... someone who is in the spotlight and who has to fight a little harder to get past that to find what is deeper and more meaningful in life. I also find that leads to a lot of hilarious consequences… and I’ve often seen the craziness of my own situation and what’s happening with me. I found the movie very funny and touching.

Tell us more about George...

George is from Scotland and was at the peak of his career in European football. And suddenly, he is in a small town in America. He has no money. He can barely pay his rent and he gets roped into training his son’s soccer team. It’s the last thing that he wants to do. He is a character that attracts chaos — women like him, men want to be him and he is not very centred. George’s problem is that he wants to help everyone and ends up in a mess.

How was it being directed by Gabriele Muccino who has films like The Pursuit of Happyness and Seven Pounds to his credit?

I don’t know where to start with Gabriele because there is so much going on with him. I get so filled with love when I see him because he’s happy and jovial. There’s just such a lovely quality about him. When he works, he’s an animal. And I mean he’s passionate and he’s hungry and his hands are all over the place! He’s exceptionally passionate and he loves to get compassion and emotion out of his actors. He also understands the deeper, darker human emotions.

You share screen space with the likes of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman and Jessica Biel. Who did you have the best chemistry with?

It was amazing. All the actresses are beautiful and I don’t think I could have asked for a better cast. It’s been a major heist to get them all involved in the movie — we have the cream of the crop. It’s funny that you had women, especially beautiful, talented women, throwing themselves all over you! And the way they did it — they are knocking at your doorstep or jumping on you at the soccer field, whatever they can do to get to you.

Gerard Butler with Catherine Zeta-Jones in Playing For Keeps

What did you find most challenging?

Since I play a former football player, I had to go through a lot of training. I practised every day for hours. Initially, that was the most challenging bit. I was also a little unsure about how I would deal with the children on the sets. But I really enjoyed my scenes with Noah (Lomax), who is truly an amazing child. He’s just so sweet and funny and humble and smart.

You have turned producer with this film. How challenging has that been?

More than a challenge, it has been a fun ride for me. I am so much more involved in making the film. I am thoroughly enjoying every bit of it.

What is it that stimulates you more as an actor — a film like 300 or something like Playing for Keeps?

I have a lot of good movies coming up. I take life as it comes and I’m currently enjoying where I am. I’m just going along, doing my thing. Like if I say, ‘That’s it, I’m going to do a romantic comedy,’ and my next movie, without a doubt, would be an action or a thriller!

You were apparently keen to spend your birthday (November 13) in India but had to scrap it when your visa didn’t come through. What about India do you like so much?

I just love the country, the people and the food. Everything about it is so bright, colourful and cheerful.

The last time you were here, you got friendly with Priyanka Chopra. Have you guys kept in touch after that?

Priyanka’s been a great friend and she’s always great fun to talk to. She’s called me a couple of times when she was down here. For me, she’s the sexiest Indian woman!

Any other Bollywood star you have met and interacted with?

I met a few others like Kajol at a recent event in Dubai and that charming fella Shah Rukh Khan who threw one heck of a party for me in Bombay. India’s great, the industry is lively and the people are amazing.

So, are you open to a Bollywood role?

If an Indian movie comes my way, why not? It would be an opportunity I’d relish.

Priyanka Roy

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