Gerard Bulter, who is of Scottish/Irish descent, was born in Glasgow, Scotland to Edward and Margaret Butler. Youngest of three, Butler has an older brother Brian and sister Lynne. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Montreal, Canada, where he lived until he was 2 years old. At that time, his parents separated, and his mother Margaret moved herself and the children back to Scotland. He grew up the suburbe of Paisley, in the Gallowhill district outside of Glasgow. Upon his mother’s remarriage the family moved to Ralston. He had no further contact with his father until age 16.
Butler attended school in Scotland and in fact, stated he grew to love acting early in life when he participated in the Scottish Youth Theatre. However, instead of pursuing that interest, he initially chose a more conservative path and went on to study law at Glasgow University, where he received top grades and served as President of the school’s Law Society. He graduated and began working as a trainee solicitor. Butler has stated he was unhappy with his chosen career path. Instead of taking the internship seriously, he mainly partied and goofed off, and admits to developing too much of a “fondness for the drink”. A week before he was suppose to complete his training, his firm approached him about his conduct and he made the decision not to become a lawyer. He gave up his legal career, moved to London, and began to pursue a career in film.
In 1997, he starred in his first film role as Archie Brown, John Brown’s brother in Mrs. Brown (1997) . The film ‘’Mrs. Brown’’, starring Judi Dench and Billy Connelly, was nominated for many awards including 2 Oscar nominations. That same year, Butler appeared in a minor role in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.
In 1999 he began filming his first lead role as Attila the Hun in the US made for TV mini-series Attila. During filming of Attila, the production actually stopped in order for him to film his second lead role as Dracula in Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000. Both were released in 2000.
From 2001 to early-2002, Butler made several films, but his most notable work during that time period was in The Jury, a critically aclaimed UK TV mini-series.
In 2003, Timeline was released, in which Butler once again starred along with Billy Connelly. Based on the Michael Crichton book of the same name, Butler played a Scottish archeologist, Andre Marek. During the same year, Butler landed the role that would put him on the map. He starred opposite Angelina Jolie in the much anticipated sequel , Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
In 2004, he began filming in the title role of “The Phantom” in Joel Schumacher‘s film rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s The Phantom of the Opera. Co-starring Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson, the film premiered in December 2004.
Prior to filming The Phantom of the Opera in 2004, Butler had completed a small independent film Dear Frankie, which co-starred Emily Mortimer. The release of this film was held until after the release of The Phantom of the Opera and premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May 2005. The film garnered a standing ovation at the film festival. Although Dear Frankie only had a limited release, it was very well recieved and reviewed by critics.
In 2005, he also co-starred in The Game of Their Lives, the film based on a true story of the 1950 US soccer team who, against all odds, beat England 1 – 0 in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Also in 2005, he was cast in the title role as Beowulf, in Sturla Gunnarsson film production of Beowulf & Grendel. Filmed entirely in Iceland, Beowulf & Grendel was wide released in Canada. During the filming of this production, Butler also participated in and co-produced the documentary Wrath of Gods. Directed by Jon Gustafsson, the film documents the dramatic circumstances the cast and crew faced while making the film Beowulf & Grendel. Wrath of Gods has won several awards at film festivals.
Late 2005, Butler began production in 300. The film, directed by Zack Snyder, and co-starring Lena Headey, was released in March 2007. Butler played the Spartan King Leonidas. The film was an adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel based on events surrounding the Battle of Thermopylae in Greece. 300 was released in the US on March 9, 2007. It currently holds the record for the highest opening weekend box office gross in the month of March at over $70 million during that 1st weekend. As of May 2007, 300 had a box office gross of $438 million after 9 weeks, although it has yet to be released in Japan, which is scheduled for June 9, 2007.
In 2006, Butler completed filming Butterfly on a Wheel with Pierce Brosnan. Butterfly on a Wheel is tentatively scheduled to be released in August 2007. Also in 2006, Butler filmed PS, I Love You. co-starring Hilary Swank, the film is based on Cecilia Aherns novel. PS, I Love You is scheduled to be released in December 2007.
On May 20th, 2007, Butler was honored as “Action Star of the Year” at the Taurus World Stunt Awards in Los Angeles, CA. This award was presented to him in recognition of his efforts in the film 300. Butler did many of his own stunts and trained extensively with stuntmen during the film.