There are actually more than 10 Gerard Butler movies everyone should see at least once as he is, of course, one of the most prolific and successful Scottish actors of this day and age, however, we take a thorough review of the top 10 best ones, judging from a balance of critical response and their success at the global box office. Gerard Butler made his foray into the world of acting in 1996 after spending years pursuing a different career path. That path was law. Though Butler had admired acting since he as a young boy growing up with his single mother in Paisley, Scotland, where he frequented theaters, he was cajoled by his family members and school teachers who thought that acting was an unstable career choice. To pursue something more professional and stable, Butler was forced to pursue a legal profession.
To feed his passion for the performing arts, Butler, as a teenage boy, attended Scottish Youth Theatre where he got the chance to play a street urchin in the play, Oliver! Butler was an exceptionally brilliant student during his time at St Mirin’s & St Margaret’s High School, graduating at the top of his class – which was the main reason why his family thought that acting wasn’t going to challenge is full potentials. Butler earned a scholarship to attend University of Glasgow School of Law where he became the president of the law society, regardless, he couldn’t ignore his artistic leanings as he became part of a rock band called, Speed.
After Gerard Butler graduated from school, he got accepted to do a two-year law trainee at a renowned Edinburgh law firm, however, at that time in his life, he had begun engaging in disorderly conduct – from heavy drinking to keeping late nights – a behavior that was perhaps the manifestation of his discontentment with a legal career. Butler said of the time that all he could think about was being famous. His erratic behavior led to him getting fired just two weeks before the completion of his traineeship.
Butler’s next move was to relocate to London where he took odd jobs to earn a living while auditioning for roles. Luck smiled Butler’s way when he bumped into a female old friend from the Scottish Youth Theatre who had been working as a casting director. He became her assistant and was exposed to more auditioning opportunities. While working behind the scenes for the play Coriolanus, Butler got the opportunity to read a part in the play to the amazement of the director who cast him for the role, thus, earning him his first professional acting job at the age of 27. Three years later, Gerard Butler had moved to LA and solidified his place in Hollywood and has so far appeared in over 60 films, the 10 best of which are listed below.
10 Gerard Butler Movies Everyone Should See At Least Once
10. Dear Frankie (2004)
Gerard Butler is best known for action films but it was fun to watch him play a nice guy in Dear Frankie, the British drama film about a single mother (played by Emily Mortimer) and her son from whom she attempts to hide the truth about his father’s abusive nature. In a bid to make her son feel the love of a father, she employs the help of a stranger played by Butler to pose as the boy’s real dad. Butler’s performance was refreshingly different from his usual action roles and critics from Chicago Sun-Times to Rolling Stones and the Los Angeles Times had only but good things to say about the performance. Among the numerous awards won by the film are two BAFTA Scotland Awards.
9. RocknRolla (2008)
RocknRolla is one of the makings of the renowned British filmmaker, Guy Ritchie. The crime comedy film features an ensemble cast including Tom Hardy, Idris Elba, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, and American rapper Ludacris. Though most critics rated it at just a little above average, the fact that the film hit the top spot in the UK box office in its first week of release was definitely a huge feat. The film follows how a London mob boss who runs a real estate empire uses a corrupt bureaucrat to his favor.
8. Mrs. Brown (1997)
Gerard Butler’s feature film debut is definitely worth watching as it was both a commercial and critical hit. He played alongside British greats like Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, and Geoffrey Palmer. Critics from Rotten Tomatoes hailed the film for its “thoughtful script” as well as the “chemistry” between its stars. Mrs. Brown tells the story of a widowed Queen Victoria and her relationship with John Brown, a Scottish servant who was one of her husband’s most trusted servants. The film won a string of awards, among them a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for Best Actress for Judi Dench.
7. The Ugly Truth (2009)
Film critics would beg to differ but The Ugly Truth was one great movie, the tepid critical reviews notwithstanding, many viewers who actually saw the movie at the cinema had only but nice things to say. When a romantic comedy grosses over $205 million against a budget of a mere $38 million, it has to be good. One of the highlights of the film is Butler’s elevator lip-lock with Katherine Heigl. Heigel played a morning show TV producer in Sacramento, California, and when her show is threatened due to poor ratings, Butler comes to the rescue. His performance earned him a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Movie Actor – Romantic Comedy and a Russian National Movie Award for Best Foreign Actor.
6. Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
Law Abiding Citizen was no doubt controversial for its violence but the thrilling action made for a good watch. The movie which takes place in Philadelphia tells the story of a man (Butler) who is out for vengeance after a man rapes his wife and shoots his daughter in a home invasion. The film also stars Jamie Foxx as a prosecuting attorney who struggles to bring the home invader to book. The film earned a Saturn Award nomination for Best Film.
5. Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
Despite being relieved of his duties as a Secret Service Agent, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) leaps to save the White House from a grueling terrorist attack by a North Korean group. The film is hugely similar to Channing Tatum‘s White House Down which was also released the same year. Despite tepid reviews from critics, the film was a box office hit, grossing over $170 million from a $70 million budget. London Has Fallen, an equally successful sequel was released in 2018 followed by 2019’s Angel Has Fallen.
4. Coriolanus (2011)
Years after earning his professional debut with the William Shakespeare’s tragedy play, Gerard Butler aced his role as the political and military leader of the Volsci in Tullus Aufidius in the 2011 film adaptation written by John Logan and directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes. The film earned a BAFTA nomination for Outstanding debut by a British Writer.
3. The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
The Phantom of the Opera might well be one of the lesser-known Gerard Butler movies, maybe because his role required that he wore a mask. He played the titular Erik The Phantom in the musical film which is based upon Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical of the same name. Though critics met it with mixed reviews, audiences certainly loved it as it pulled in over $154 million from a budget of $70 million. Butler received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. Interestingly, Hugh Jackman was originally considered for the Phantom role but he lost it due to scheduling conflicts with his role in Van Helsing.
2. How To Train Your Dragon (2003)
The full list of Gerard Butler movies includes a handful of voice roles but his voice role as “Stoick the Vast, the chieftain of Berk” far outweighs the others. The animated action-fantasy film tells the story of a young Viking boy who finally captures his first dragon which would gain him acceptance from his tribe, but he becomes friends with the dragon rather than kill it for glory. The film is based on British author Cressida Cowell’s book of the same name. It has produced at least two sequels which have both been box office hits. Thanks to the film’s success, a video game, and TV series have been developed.
1. 300 (2006)
The period action film which is a fictional narrative of the Battle of Thermopylae within the Persian Wars was Butler’s first major breakthrough and that makes it one of the Gerard Butler movies worth seeing. Additionally, it was both a box office and critical hit. It grossed over $456 million against a budget of $65 million. His role as Leonidas, King of Sparta, earned him a couple of awards, including the MTV Movie + TV Award for Best Fight. He also earned an Empire, as well as a Saturn Award nominations for Best Actor. An equally successful sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire was released in 2014.