MIAMI -- Gerard Butler as soccer-mom eye candy in his latest movie, Playing for Keeps? Not much of a stretch.
The hunky Scot plays George, an ex-pro soccer star and womanizer turned pee-wee coach. After be-bopping around the world, he moves to a small Virginia town so that he can be nearer to his young son and his ex (Jessica Biel) and fulfill his dream of becoming a sportscaster. While trying to win Biel back, he runs into a few women on the sidelines, literally: his charges' mothers.
We talked to the former lawyer (yes!) about the tough gig, which he also helped produce, last week.
Can you talk about your character?
This was a passion project for me. George is interesting. He's been a player, but he's not a dog. He's a good man, just a bit lost. He's never really grown up, but he's never tried to hurt anybody. It's a lesson in life about second chances and forgiveness and the sacrifices we make to become deeper individuals. There are people who have had that success at an early age, and it's hard for them to step aside and grow emotionally and spiritually when they're the center of attention and people are throwing themselves at them.
Speaking of people throwing themselves at you: What was shooting like?
Well, I get to hang out with all these beautiful women who were also heroes of mine. I'd always wanted to work with Jessica Biel and I've always been in love with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Uma Thurman. Then they're all in the same movie, and you get to work with them.
You spent your 43rd birthday recently in Scotland. How was the time with your family?
I did. I had a big meal with, like, 18 members of the clan. They watch my movies and it's the best way to get an honest critique. My mum'll say, 'You know, I didn't like that one so much, son,' or 'That was some fine acting. I'm so proud of you!'
Did your mother always know you'd go into acting?
I think she did. I was always the one singing and dancing, telling jokes. The clown. I remember from an early age that being a charmer kept you out of trouble. When my mum got angry, I could really lighten up the situation. That's probably what led to my training as my days as a lawyer. Really on a daily basis I was pretending to be something I wasn't.
You looked proficient on the field. How experienced a soccer player are you?
I played for a lot of my life. When I was a kid I played every day. I hadn't for quite a while, though, so I had to strap the boots back on again and train with some professionals. We worked on touches, which is what it's really all about, and keeping the ball up. I was out there all day. I'm like a big kid, so I was in my element.