His stories were remarkable and sometimes they would turn out to be true, but more often than not they were much embellished, although you'd enjoy them for that embellishment."He owned a novelty hat and umbrella shop in Toronto, right? I mean my agents would say I'm happy when I'm working, but that's the easy part." Working is easier than not-working? I can now see keeping busy may be more important to him than what he is keeping busy with. (In preparing for this interview, I read quite a few, and cringed wildly on his behalf.
"Yeah, he used to spend his whole day in this store wearing an umbrella hat. I say Woody Allen once said he makes so many films because he doesn't know how to stave off depression other than by working all the time. The Ugly Truth, a rom-com co-starring Katherine Heigl, was accused by the Wall Street Journal of "revelling in the misogyny it claims to deplore" while The New Yorker said of The Bounty Hunter: "Even as an assembly line product this falls well below factory standards".
There have been a number of rom-coms, for example, including The Bounty Hunter, with Ms Aniston, which I downloaded but could not watch after it became evident Gerard's character kidnapped women for a living. I can't specify a movie, but there was one where I just think it was the wrong director, and another where the director had to be taken off the film because he basically had Alzheimer's. He says: "It really pisses me off when people go, 'Just go work with Paul Thomas Anderson or Quentin Tarantino'. OK, it begins with his parents, Edward and Margaret, who moved from Paisley, Scotland to Montreal, Canada, when Gerard was six months old. I was with my mum and the point where Richard Dreyfuss is under the boat and there's a hole in the boat, and the head pops out, I went into hysterics and she had to take me out of the cinema." He says he tried, in Olympus, to put in similar jump-out-of-your-seat moments.
It may be Gerard is realising all this too, and is also realising that, at 43, he is running out of time to do something about it. And if you make a few movies in Hollywood that don't make a lot of money, you've got to be careful."But yours always make a ton of money, don't they? Not these last ones I'm talking about." You need to work with Tarantino, I tell him, helpfully. It's not that easy." He does not, it soon becomes clear, count Olympus as one of his bad-luck movies, and volunteers proudly: "I was involved from start to finish, taking it to Antoine [Fuqua, the director] and getting him on board, and I worked so much on the script, ripping it apart and putting it back together, really putting flesh on the bones of it and trying to give it some real substance and meaning in terms of a fun, action thriller that is going be a rousing experience."Alarmingly, it's looking as if we may have to confront an elephant head-on but, thankfully, I manage to avert such a disaster by employing a particular tactic known as Speedily Changing The Subject Even Though It Makes You Seem Mad. Eighteen months later, the marriage broke down, so Margaret returned to Paisley to bring up the three children – she took classes to teach business studies – and Gerard did not see his father again for 14 years. I would watch movies, mostly American movies, and be so engrossed in those stories, all I wanted to do was be there. "I love trying to find new ways to make an audience jump," but I see where this is going, so head him off smartly. – "…but I have all my meals prepared by a chef."He gave up drinking at 27. "I was in Camden," he says, "and I had a crazy experience with these two sisters whom I was friends with from Glasgow, and we'd been out one night, and one of the sisters just went nuts. She just lost her mind and the other sister was freaking out and crying and saying, 'I don't know what's wrong with her' and I remember thinking: 'How many of these crazy situations do I have to get into? I woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror and didn't recognise myself. ' I actually went to the pub and thought well, I'll have a beer, and sit and contemplate this, and I just couldn't drink it.
"It's nothing," he says, "I hadn't even noticed it. But it's at times like that you think: I should have stayed behind a desk! "I think it created a lot of sadness in my life and self-doubt." Did he explain why he hadn't been in touch for all those years? He was incredibly entertaining and a great story-teller. He believes in The Secret, whereby you visualise what you want and, voila, it comes true. He says one of the scripts "does give me a nice opportunity to grow up a bit" but then adds "not that I would want to stop doing action and adventure".