CATEGORIES Movie NewsWhen the White House has been torched and scorched, shot at and bombed, ransacked and pillaged, who are you going to call?
Gerard Butler, of course.
The Scottish actor is used to kicking butt and taking names, but in "Olympus Has Fallen" he's doing it at the highest levels: as a Secret Service agent protecting the president (Aaron Eckhart). Butler plays Mike Banning, an agent who's disgraced after an accident leads to the death of President Asher's wife. But when a North Korean rogue terrorist (Rick Yune) attacks and takes over the White House, Banning infiltrates the residence to save the president, country, and the whole world.
Butler spoke with Moviefone recently about the movie's plausibility, the inevitable bromance between a president and his Secret Service detail, and working with buddy Yune.
You are a producer on this movie as well as its star. Why did you want to go all in? I really felt that this could be an event movie, a very provocative movie. More than anything, I thought it could be great entertainment, a ride, suspenseful, emotional, terrifying, and riveting. And yet, you set it in this current political backdrop -- as witnessed in very recent events -- and you have something compelling, holistically.
It's kind of scary to think that a group could take over the White House. We took advice from specialists in what would be a way of attacking. But what we're showing, though, is nothing new. It's not the first time that something's blown up outside an embassy, it's not the first time that a plane has attacked a building ... And we weren't told everything. We were told enough. They're not going to give away their top top secrets; they have other stuff up their sleeves.
It's like the Spielberg moment in "Jurassic Park" when they take the DNA out of a mosquito and suddenly you have dinosaurs jumping around! Yet you believe it because you take that leap. The trick is getting the audience to take that leap, and I think we did it. That whole opening [attack] scene, you believe every part of it.
It feels like it was planned to the last detail. You can do it with a relatively small force if it's really well-planned and coordinated, and these guys are trained to such expertise ... and if comes from the inside and outside and above, it would be believable that this could happen.
There's a lot of action, but there's emotion, too. Mike isn't just trying to save the president because it's his duty, but because he really loves President Asher. If you think for a second, Obama has his special agent in charge and he has his presidential detail -- he knows those guys, he spends every day with those guys, he probably plays golf with a couple of them, they get invited to parties ... they're good dudes. They're protecting his life. He loves them, they love him. So there's not just the element of duty, there's an element of friendship and loyalty.
But [Mike and Asher's relationship] has been blurred by recent tragedies. It's a friendship, but a friendship gone wrong, because there's so much pain and memory between both of them after the president lost his wife. That makes it all the more fascinating and colorful in a way. And now I'm being asked to protect the man who ended my career, not out of hatred, but just because of the situation.
And he's going to do anything and everything to protect Asher. The man is facing his own demons; he's been like a caged animal. All he wants to do is to be able to do that job -- protect the president and protect the country. And he's not alive unless he's doing that, so he fights his way into the White House and he's the only man there.
He's spent his whole life preparing for this eventuality, and this eventuality is now in front of him. What does he do? He's got to rise to the task, as does the president, the people downstairs -- they've got to show great courage and tenacity. As do the people in the crisis room who are having to make decisions that could affect the fate of the world -- split-second decisions and they may make the wrong ones. They do make the wrong ones.
How did you make Rick Yune's Kang more than a one-dimensional villain? That was the biggest challenge for us in the movie. We worked on the script for a long time. ... [Kang's] gotta be a badass, he's gotta be extremely well-equipped to handle himself, he's also got to have his emotional driving force, and you have to do all that without making him sound like "The Man With the Golden Gun" from James Bond. How do you make that believable in a current world context? ... That was a big discussion: how to give him some personality and [have the audience] understand and believe where he's coming from, why he might do what he does, even if we think he's crazy.
But Rick was great for that, he has an intensity and fire about him, and yet he's super intelligent. [The attack is] already laid out. They've already planned all that. Everything that is happening was already devised, and he knew the way it was going to go -- until he comes against Gerry Butler. And Rick's my boy, so it was hilarious, because he's one of my great friends. And it's like, "Yeah, dude. You're Rick Yune, but I'm Gerry Butler." [Laughs]
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