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'Den of Thieves' Star Gerard Butler on Becoming Big Nick [Interview]

'Den of Thieves' Star Gerard Butler on Becoming Big Nick [Interview]
From Slashfilm - January 20, 2018

Gerard Butleris more often than not the biggest guy in the room. Or at least in his movies. Whether hes going after the justice system, protecting the president, or delivering Shakespeare, hes going bigger than everyone elseand hes usually ripped. InDen of Thieves, playing a bull of an LAPD cop, Big Nick, he looks like a mammoth compared to some of those past roles.

The characters size isnt the only reason Butler disappears as Big Nickits also his attitude.Christian Gudegats directorial debut has one of Butlers meatiest roles to date: a deeply flawed, isolated and dedicated cop. Wespokewith the actor about how he wanted to play Big Nick, the transformation he made with the role, and some of his favorite actors.

Below, read our Gerard Butler interview.

You did quite a bit of research for this film. From the discussions you had and what you learned about Big Nicks job, what about that lifestyle did you want to communicate or portray?

For me, I think trying to communicate that modern-day warrior. This guy whos a silver-backed gorilla. What that means as a policeman, what that means and how he reacts with people. How he chews up every space. How he dominates people. He dominates the mood in a room physically, emotionally. And the impact that can have around him, that can have against his enemies and it can have with his family, both the negative impact, the positive impact. But just what it takes to be a person that lives in that space, that operates to that level of danger and brilliance and professionalism.

Then also examine a side of him being so impulsive. Being damned of consequences and he acts, and to hell with it. I love that because it allowed me to surprise myself and feel completely unpredictable and also know that youre surprising the hell out of an audience as well. Where am I going to take this? Loving the fact that you dont know. He thinks outside of the box. Anybody else would play on a chessboard but Ill take a gun and shoot you in the brain, you take my pawn, Im going to shoot you in the head. Its like you never know what hes going to do, and I just felt like an interesting psychology to climb into.

The character tells his wife its all street theater, but it makes you wonder how much of it is street theater and how much of it is really him. He seems at odds with himself.

I think thats bang on. There comes a time where you cant really justify the actions hes taking anymore, and I feel like his journey through this movie is, all right, Ive gone too far. Because people have put up with it until now, but then you dont realize until its too late, and hes lost his wife and hes lost his kids, and he cant see anymore that it is street theater because there is a certain amount of addiction and enjoyment in the way he lives that life. Yeah, its bruised him, its beaten him up, but at the same time, hes also eating up that adrenaline. Thats hard when you leave that to go home, and how do you be the sweet dad whos in a good mood all the time, and how do you be consistent for your wife? And how do you be a loyal, dear husband? Its hard. Hes feeling the brunt of that now.

I was surprised by how much the movie takes its time, especially with his loneliness. Even the scene with Big Nick at the beach isnt quite what you expect.

Thats what I loved about this script, and in fact, that beach thing, we did some additional photography and we shot that then, was to really try and show the moment before the big showdown of the effect that that was having on the character. They had a chance to examine where theyre at, and then appreciation for what is about to go down. Thats always great when you can see a character sit with themselves and go, what have I done? That had to be a big thing with Nick.

Its one of the things that I found interesting and surprising about this movie is, yeah, its action-packed and its fun and its full of surprises, but its also very emotional and it lets you breathe with the characters and take a journey with them, and see the more intimate, subtle challenges that they go through as well, as they go head to head on the battlefield.

Even though this is Christian Gudegasts first movie, you said he was one of the most prepared directors youve worked with. What created the trust between you two?

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