Like most people not named Elisabeth Rappe, I first 'discovered' Gerard Butler in the outrageous action cartoon 300. Sure, I'd seen the guy in stuff like Phantom of the Opera, Reign of Fire, Timeline and Tomb Raider 2, but at that point Butler was just another character player trying to make a splash. Suffice to that Mr. Butler (and his career) made that splash with Zack Snyder's massive hit of an action film. And since Butler was the very cool lead in a very big hit ... his career was pretty much set.

But since 300, Mr. Butler has done P.S. I Love You ($54 million domestic), The Ugly Truth ($88m), Gamer ($20m), and Law Abiding Citizen ($73m). Out of four flicks, that's two rom-coms (one of which was a modest hit) and two action flicks (ditto) -- but certainly nothing that might vault Gerard Butler into the superstar stratosphere. What's due next for the actor? Hell, do the math: if you can't generate a massive hit on either side of the boy/girl fence, you do the only logical thing. A romantic comedy action flick called The Bounty Hunter.

Mr. Butler may never again appear in a hit as huge as 300, but I'm concerned that his newfound leading man status will be in jeopardy if the masses don't embrace the guy, and soon. On paper, this actor seems to have it all: the ladies like his charm and handsomeness, the men like his wise-guy attitude and versatility ... so perhaps it's the projects he's been choosing. The guy (or his agent) chooses "rom com" or "action" with a very predictable pattern -- but he needs to start picking better scripts. Butler is a fascinating lead actor in that he can do romance, wit, toughness, gravity, or tragedy, but he seems intent on picking the most basic path to super-stardom. Here's hoping the guy takes a few strange risks before the lead roles start to dry up. This guy's too cool to be stuck in generic rom-coms and conventional action fare.
categories Columns, Cinematical