It’s not that Gerard Butler just doesn’t know what Free Guy is… he says he doesn’t watch Ryan Reynolds movies.
We sat down with the Scotsman ahead of the release of Copshop, Joe Carnahan’s new Robert Rodriguez-inspired actioner starring Butler, Frank Grillo, Alexis Louder and Toby Huss. He plays Viddick, a hitman so determined to catch and kill Grillo’s Teddy, he gets himself behind bars alongside him.
Particularly over the past decade, Butler’s career choices feel reminiscent of 90s box office heavyweights, whether it’s his Fallen series or disaster movies like Geostorm and Greenland. On the other hand, Reynolds is emblematic of a new breed of blockbuster, with the likes of Deadpool and the recent Free Guy – and it seems they’re not up Butler’s street.
‘Weirdly, I had Copshop in my back pocket for quite a while. I just wasn’t sure if I was gonna go that way. It was in the middle of the pandemic, and I thought… you know what? This actually feels like the kind of movie where it can be outrageous, irreverent and a lot of fun, just complete escapism,’ he told UNILAD.
‘For me to get a chance to go play the villain, the hitman, a killer, brutal, but with some surprising elements to his character… you put all these crazy people into the one room essentially and have this stand-off, I thought we could get something that could be really fun, thrilling, exciting, scary, outrageous, surreal and then end up with complete mayhem. How can you not want to see that?’
Louder was gracious to be fighting and shooting alongside seasoned action stars. ‘It was a lot of fun to be able to work with the people I’m working with: Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo and Joe, all of them were like colleagues, they treated me like a peer. Whatever I needed to learn or know, they were very generous with the information they had in their back pocket,’ she said.
Towards the end of our conversation, I pivot to Gamer, Butler’s 2009 ultraviolent flop about a virtual reality game in which players control real-life death row prisoners in a first-person shooter.
With the release of Free Guy, Reynolds’ new movie in which he plays an NPC in an open-world, GTA-style game, Chris Evangelista of Slash Film joked in August that he couldn’t wait for the ‘original Free Guy‘ by tweeting a Gamer poster. It’s seen a small resurgence this year, with Polygon writing it was ahead of its time in our ‘terminally online existence’.
Butler hadn’t seen anyone talking about it, but looked back positively on the film. ‘I was hoping it was of the time, that people would get it. I thought it was genius,’ he said.
‘It could have been executed slightly differently, but I really loved the commentary it was making on where the world was going, especially in gaming and sort of losing ourselves into that world, and technology and man bonding with machine. But, I didn’t feel people really did get it at the time. It didn’t do amazing business. It has become a bit of a cult classic, but I didn’t know about this resurgence.’
He then said, ‘I actually don’t know what Free Guy is.’ Between giggling, Louder whispered in his ear that it was Reynolds’ new movie. ‘Oh sh*t is it… I don’t watch Ryan Reynolds movies,’ he replied – in his defence, he said he’s been stuck filming in Puerto Rico, so he’s not been at the cinema much.
We didn’t have time to dig into what it is about Reynolds’ movies that don’t strike a chord with Butler. However, for Big Nick’s fans out there, Den of Thieves 2 is definitely coming and we’ve got some details, albeit no firm release date.
‘We’re supposed to shoot early next year. We’re Europe-bound, we’re still on the hunt for Donnie who’s now on the diamond district in Marseilles. I go over to hunt him down, but with different intentions than you might imagine. So we’re gonna be in Marseilles, the Alps and London – it’s definitely a more glamorous journey than the last one, and probably a more fun, sexy journey.’
Copshop hits cinemas this Friday, September 10.