Greenland is so much more than a disaster movie - Gerard Butler

In these strange COVID-19 times the former life of a globetrotting celebrity interviewing entertainment reporter is now a life confined to my living room having virtual Zoom chats with celebrities and filmmakers. 

Sometimes, things can be slightly more prone to becoming lost in translation. Exhibit A: Gerard Butler, in some undisclosed location but likely Los Angeles, zooming into my lounge and onto my laptop to talk his new movie Greenland.

Given Butler's Scottishness, I assumed he could also speak fluent Kiwi. I was wrong.

I began by reminiscing about the fact it had been a decade since we last chatted. A 'decade' ago.

But my flat Kiwi vowels got the better of him - this is what HE thought I said.

"When you first spoke I thought you said a 'dickhead' ago and I was like what? Oh a 'decade', OK," said Butler.

I did express my surprise at this lack of linguistic comprehension, given the man was a mate of former New Zealander of the Year Taika Waititi, recently spotted together partying hard at Taika's 45th birthday soiree in Malibu.

What I didn't know was in fact they're more than just mates - Butler was Waititi's landlord in LA.

"He was actually renting my house in Los Feliz, because he needed a place to stay while he was in LA," Butler told Newshub.

"God he is so awesome. There is nobody like him on the planet. I mean he's so crazy and cool and fun… he's an amazing individual and such a talent."

Yeah I get it, everybody loves Taika. But I'll tell you who else everybody loves: Gerard Butler. One of the nicest guys in Hollywood, people say, and certainly a top notch chap to Zoom call with.

Speaking of which, Greenland, his new film has just opened here. It's a film I'm the first to admit I initially took as your bog-standard Hollywood world-blowing-up action flick - turns out though, there's a lot more to it.

"It almost hurts to call it a disaster movie. It has all of that - it's exciting, entertaining and it's scary. But it's so much more than that. It's such a deeper journey that we go on," said Butler.

Indeed they do. This is a far more intimate story of a family trying to escape almost certain extinction, as a planet killing comet called Clark barrels towards earth.

It's how society and human beings really can turn on each other when it comes to that survival instinct.

"There's a heavy load of reality and authenticity and groundedness, which allows the journey to be much more vulnerable and emotional and raw. That's what surprises people, they expect it to be a Hollywood bedazzling, watching the comet and people going up into space to fight it. And that's not this movie". 

Butler knows a thing or two about that Hollywood bedazzling. After hitting the big-time as Buff Butler the King of Sparta in Zack Snyder's 300 the actor morphed into quite the action hero, saving the President (Olympus has Fallen) saving the G7 (London has Fallen) saving himself (Angel has Fallen) and saving the planet (Geostorm).

He peppered all that exhausting running around action with action of a different kind; starring in rom-coms opposite Jennifer Aniston in The Bounty Hunter and Katherine Heigl in The Ugly Truth; and who could forget the Hilary Swank tear-jerker PS, I love You.

But with Greenland, he's back in familiar disaster territory but this time on a more singular mission, to save his estranged wife and his son.

"We just grounded it, so that people watch it and go yeah I can see that or that makes sense I can really feel that. And the next minute you're in this journey with this family, and you're feeling the pressure mounting and society breaking down. But also feeling their love and protectiveness and their desperation to find each other and to get to safety."

As my interview with Mr Butler came to an end and I bid him adieu, I am reminded once again that while he doesn't speak Kiwi, he certainly knows how to take the mickey out of a Kiwi.

As he waves me goodbye he yells out: "See you in another dickhead!"

Aaaah you win, Gerard Butler. You win.