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A bookie who at one time had five betting shops in Glasgow, he used to entertain his family with stories of how he had beaten Roger Bannister in the mile.As unreliable as he was entertaining, he disappeared from his children’s lives for 14 years.
'I had gone from a 16-year-old who couldn’t wait to grasp life to a 22-year-old who didn’t care if he died in his sleep,’ he has said.At the moment, I just happen to be finding comedies kind of irresistible.’ Increasingly, Butler seems to be specialising in two types: the hard man and the funny man.He made his name as the former, launching himself in Hollywood – only two weeks after arriving there in 2000 – by landing the lead role of Attila the Hun in a television film.All he could think of to say was, 'Why didn’t you get in touch? 'That emotion showed me how much pain can sit in this body of yours; pain and sorrow that you don’t know you have until it is unleashed.’ In the years that followed, he and his father became close, making up for lost time. When Butler – by then a law student at Glasgow University with a penchant for partying – was 22, his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.After his father’s death, Butler’s naturally hedonistic streak took hold.Now I’m over that hill, my career seems to have its own momentum.’ On the back of 300, Guy Ritchie cast Butler as one of the leads in Rockn Rolla (2008).
The film had mixed reviews, but it served as a showcase for Butler’s strain of self-effacing humour that, around the same time, was making its appearance in PS I Love You, a weepy romantic comedy with Hilary Swank.
'My overwhelming memory of being a child is the huge amount of love I felt for my mum,’ Butler says.
'She was my everything, because she was both my mum and my dad.’ His father, Edward, was 'a bit of a crazy man’.
In the same vein as Russell Crowe and Mel Gibson, Butler embodies Hollywood’s favourite archetype, the hard man with the soft centre.
It is certainly not an act – in life, as in film, Butler is part chest-beater, part soul-searcher.
Every waiter in Hollywood is an actor in disguise and Butler has cast these two in his prank.