Minutes tick away as I sit in a swank restaurant of a London design hotel waiting for an audience with the modern equivalent of royalty – the Hollywood celebrity. My interview with Gerard Butler was meant to happen hours ago, but a packed day of roundtables with journalists from all around the world inevitably means delays and re-jigging of time slots are bound to happen.
I am one of the more fortunate ones – I get a full five minutes alone with Leonidas himself. What do you ask when all you have is five minutes? My notepad is covered in crossed out questions, and the ones that have survived the cull have been shifted around and repeatedly prioritised, indicated by pencilled arrows that are starting to make little sense.
Butler, 44, is holding court today, because he has been appointed the new face of Boss Bottled, the most successful fragrance in the history of Hugo Boss. The new campaign is a big deal. Fifteen years after the introduction of Boss Bottled, the powers that be decided that it was time for a new personality to represent a new generation of men. The fragrance itself has not been tampered with, because it would be idiotic to mess with a formula that has consistently ranked among the top 10 best-selling perfumes in the world.
The new campaign also comes with a new tagline: “The Man of Today”. Hugo Boss is taking a progressive stance on its framing of the modern man. As opposed to, for example, the Axe man, the Hugo Boss man is not a guy who slobbers over women or purchases products in the vain hope that they will make him instantly attractive to the fairer sex.
If the Axe man is the Neanderthal on the chart of human evolution, the Boss Bottled man is the gent standing at the end, dressed in a sharp suit with a Scotch in hand, mulling over his role in society.
I nibble on my umpteenth courtesy cookie as I take in the scene around me. At night, this neon-lit space typically turns into a flashy steak restaurant complete with DJ, attracting investment bankers and their ilk who like their meat pricey. But for now, it is a holding area for journalists who take turns to get shuttled off in groups for interviews with Butler and other spokesmen.
Eager for intel, I badger my new friends about their meetings with the man. “He’s really nice,” is the most common and reassuring response. One journalist tells a story about how he pranked her roundtable group by placing boxes of the fragrance on their seats before they entered the room, and gleefully enjoyed their baffled reactions.
Four hours after my initial scheduled slot, I am escorted to a hotel room. It being an “avant-garde” hotel means that I have to walk through a warren of extremely dark corridors and then enter a room so blindingly white that my eyes feel like they have been injected with a double espresso.
Butler’s large masculine frame is pacing around. Dressed casually in a polo tee and jeans, his hair is a little ruffled as if he has been running his hands through it all day. He looks a lot bigger in person, yet a lot less imposing than expected. He smiles at me, a little wild-eyed. He is clearly exhausted.
“You must be exhausted,” I offer, as a friendly opener.
“You know what? I have never been this exhausted in my life!” he exclaims in his Scottish lilt.
He adds, “The last time I was this tired, it was at the World Cup in Brazil. I was celebrating with the German team after the finals. That was amazing.”
I ask if he had rooted for Germany to win.
“I was supporting Germany, but I was also supporting Brazil. To watch them get ripped apart 7-1 in the Brazil-Germany game was heartbreaking, because the Brazilians are just so passionate about football,” he says.
His relationship with football goes back a long way. Growing up in Scotland, one of the most passionate football nations in the world, he once dreamt of becoming a professional football player. Two of his films have also been about football: The Game of Their Lives (2005), a film that tells the true story of the 1950 USA soccer team at the Brazilian World Cup, and Playing For Keeps (2012), a romantic comedy in which he plays a former professional Scottish football player turned school coach.
On a television interview with Seth Myers, he was asked what it was like to be a Scottish football fan.
With typical Butler wit, he replied: “It’s a life full of romantic tragedy and broken hearts. We used to make it in the World Cup and we’d always do amazing against a fantastic team, and then lose to nobodies… like Tonga. I don’t even know if they have a team, but we’d lose to them. But you know, for Scotland the important thing is that we will support anybody, because we are used to not being in the World Cup. So we would support nations that we have been at war with and killed many of our good people, but it doesn’t matter… as long as it’s against England.”
To be read the rest of our interview with Gerard Butler, grab a copy of August Man’s November 2014 issue on the newsstands now.