In The Ugly Truth, Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler play a loverlorn morning show TV producer and the cyncial relationship advisor who agrees to help her land a man in exchange for an on-air gig. The story of The Ugly Truth is primarily the story of what men and women misundserstand about each other, but also the story of mutual appearances on The Craig Ferguson Show, in hotel elevators and at hot-air balloon festivals (see what they did there?)...
Buzzine's Izumi Hasegawa met up with both Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler in Los Angeles, CA and tried to keep a straight face long enough between giggles to ask them about fancy footwork, dueling dialogue, R-rated romantic comedies and the thirty-five set-ups required to fake an orgasm just right....
Izumi Hasegawa: Gerard - Women have loved you for so long, even in the big male action films like 300. Do you think you’re pushing your luck this time by playing such an outspoken man so unashamedly ?
Gerard Butler: No, I don’t think I’m pushing my luck. That is something I’d like to do, but I don’t think I’m taking it too far. There is definitely a lot of me in this character, but I think it’s more about being sort of boisterous and fun. I don’t expound those ideals, but I do think there is a lot of that going on in both men and women if we’re honest and frank about how we look at each other.
I think what is cool is that both of our characters, at the end of the day, are human and real. We both have a lot of vulnerabilities. There is a lot of that going on under Mike’s armor. That’s what is so great about this movie. It’s so ridiculous, shocking, and surprising — the ways I talk about sex — but at the end of the day, women get it. Men get it too. It’s kind of a romantic comedy and kind of a love story.
IH: Did you both dance well before making this movie: How much did you practice for that dance?
KH: I think it looked so awesome because of the way that they shot it. Did you notice, Gerry, it was all just upper - they didn’t do any wide shots of us spinning around.
GB: I disagree. It was hot.
KH: We totally went back to the trailer and made out after. [Laughs] We had like 20 minutes to rehearse it, right?
GB: I took a few lessons because I had no idea what I was doing. I actually had a lesson from Julianne Hough from Dancing with the Stars, and that took me a long way. But this lady here was just on it and she had it right away. That’s why it came alive because, to be honest, if I was dancing with somebody who wasn’t that great, it would have been a disaster. Katie was on it and I wasn’t. Her process is good and mine is bad. [Laughs] I had months to prepare and I still forgot my lines. But then again, I had a lot to say. In my defense, I never f***ing shut up in this movie. “Blah, blah, blah…” and then “blah, blah, blah…”
KH: What was so awesome is that you nailed every joke. It came off effortless. He is super fun to watch. You’re just good!
IH: And he seems to have had great teachers: Can you talk a little more about dancing with Julianne Hough, Gerard?
GB: She did me a big favor there. I knew a bunch of the guys from Dancing With the Stars because I used to live in the same building as them...
IH: More difficult perhaps than the fancy footwork was the super fast-paced dialogue in the scenes where you are talking to each other face to face, were there a lot of takes for those scenes?
KH: For me, I kind of talk like that all the time anyway, so it wasn’t hard. I try to actually reign that in a bit, so that was very freeing for me. I could just be me. I love raunchy humor, and I don’t know why. I should probably get a little more sophisticated, but I just think it’s hilarious and it’s what makes me laugh the hardest and the most. I’m not terribly precious about that sort of stuff, unless you’re going really far, and then it’s still funny.
IH: Was it hard for you, Gerard, being the Scottish guy doing an American accent?
GB: I was in heaven - back home - one of the main reasons I ended up doing this movie. I was doing another action movie where I was very dark and brooding, but at night I would go to dinner with Gary Lucchesi and Tom Rosenberg from Lakeshore and tell dirty jokes. I’d be vulgar, and they kept going, “The Ugly Truth!” and I had never read the script. I finally read it and I go, “Okay, I get it.”
The weird thing is that it took me a couple of days to find my rhythm. The first day, playing the American accent and that kind of character, I was really nervous. I kept forgetting my lines. Every time I would turn to Katie and had to play with her hair, I was so nervous. Once I grabbed her breast. In the middle of a take, I said, ”Did I just touch your breast?”
KH: He just put his hand down - one of those accidental brushes…
GB: It was kind of a Mike Chadwick move. I guess it was pretty method. Every time I went to grab her hair, I forgot, and it was because I was really pretty nervous about it because she’s such a charismatic woman.
IH: Katherine, your character Izzie is so well-known from Grey’s Anatomy. Do you see Abby in The Ugly Truth as a cousin or a sexier R-rated version of Izzie?
KH: For Izzie, yeah, I definitely want to go out and explore different personalities of people, but at the end of the day, I feel like, on television, it’s really hard to divorce me completely from the role. It’s nine months a year, it’s every day, and sometimes it’s an 80-hour week. It’s the way I walk, the way I talk, the way I dress... sure. It’s going to slip in there. I can’t completely remove that. I thought, in the film, I maybe could. I don’t think I can. Me is always going to show up in these roles. Something is always going to surface, so yeah, they’re not Izzie, but there is a distant cousin sort of analogy. I think it will always be a little bit like that, and that’s why I colored my hair, because that will fool everybody! [Laughs]
IH: You could say this movie is silly and great fun with two disarmingly attractive people, but is it really also saying something about men and women today?
KH: Hmm. I don’t know. I would hope it’s an exaggeration of where men and women are at. I can’t speak for men because I haven’t been around a lot of men who act like Mike Chadway. I’ve been around a lot of men who joke like Mike Chadway but don’t actually believe that. If they do, then they are very good actors and are much more romantic and much more sympathetic and all those things he sort of lacked.
But I know, for me, Abby is only a small exaggeration of women now - at least my friends and me. Make a list... I’m definitely a little OCD, I’m particular about how I like things and how I want things, and the whole seventh floor room facing the sun rising… I get that, deeply. I don’t know. Maybe it is talking about the differences, but I also think the most important part of the movie was talking about how, despite those differences, you can compromise. You don’t have to necessarily completely change who you are to be with someone you want to be with, but you do have to compromise a little bit. You have to let go of a little bit of yourself. There is that fine line between desperate and honest. [Laughs]
GB: I have to say that Katie is deeply flawed in her misunderstanding of the truth of what goes on in a lot of men’s minds. I think that was a way more sophisticated breed of male than I am, which wouldn’t be difficult. We never know, as guys, what the hell women talk about when they go to the restroom. They always go to the restroom together. Likewise, women never really know - and I think this is the first movie that really brings it up and strikes to the heart if it - how guys really think.
I know I’m going out on a limb here and ending my career, but it’s almost impossible for a guy to go, “You know what? There are times when I just turn around and look at an ass.” We do that stuff. We are much more complicated that than as well, and at the end of the day, that’s what is beautiful and where the redemption is in the movie. We all, through our games and our weaknesses and our flaws, are after the same thing. We all want a partner, we all want companionship, and we’re all beautiful, and we’re all over the place. It comes together really well.
I think the battle of the sexes is the battle of the audiences in this movie, because it’s so great. It really expounds both values. I think, when this stuff is thrown out there, it’s so shocking and unexpected. The guys are like, “Oh, thank God somebody said that,” and the women are like, “You know what? I knew it! I bloody well knew it!” That’s why it’s a huge relief that this stuff is put out there… But it’s great the way we play with it here. The script was so phenomenal. That’s another reason it wasn’t hard to just climb into this and do it. It was just there.
KH: It was super funny on the page too.
IH: R-rated comedies have been becoming a bigger and more reliable success for Hollywood. This is your second one, Katherine. You’re now the woman who is exemplifying these things. Can you talk about the trend from an actress’s point of view?
KH: I actually have a really strong opinion about this, shockingly enough, but I gave it recently and it sounded really dumb, so you tell me if this sounds stupid: I feel like I’m a 30-year-old woman, and as much as I love that younger audience, and as much as I love those kinds of movies... I loved 27 Dresses; I had a great time making it, I love watching those kinds of things. I still feel like I want to tell a real story to people my age, to my generation.
We throw “f***” around a lot. When you have to censor so much for that PG-13 rating, it starts to get a little cute. It starts to feel a little fantasy. And yes, all romantic comedies have that element of fantasy, but the thing I love the most about this movie is that they do end up together. Who knows if they end up happily ever after together, but they do end up together and it didn’t feel like the fantasy. It felt like real life. It felt like two people who actually were really sexually attracted to one another, and ultimately emotionally attracted to one another, came together in a world that is a grownup’s world, not the cartoon version.
It’s not that I always want to do R-rated movies or that I feel like they are the most honest movies out there, but there was something about this. The ability to be crass, the ability to drop the F-bomb on occasion, the ability to say “cock”… that felt real to me. It felt like the world I actually live in with my friends and my family. Maybe that sounds bad...
IH: Katherine - for you, even as The Ugly Truth is released, you are already working with this director [Robert Luketic] again. The movie is Killers: Can you talk about how quickly you decided to do another project together, one with more of an action adventure theme?
GB: For this movie, I was trying to break into Katherine’s genre, and now she’s, like, slapping me in the face and getting into my genre. “I’ll show you!”
KH: What is tragic is that I’m sure you look awesome as an action person... I look like a moron. That is good because I was supposed to be in this particular movie. I’m not supposed to be good at it, but even when I wasn’t trying to look dumb, I look dumb. I will never be an action star, that’s for sure.
GB: That’s good because I look like a moron in this movie, so it’s perfect.
KH: No you don’t. You’re a genius.
IH: You are now married, Katherine. Gerry, is there an ugly truth that you discovered in making this film that might people not want to know, but might actually help them in their dating life?
GB: You answer first.
KH: She’s asking you!
GB: No, she asked both of us! I hate that, because it’s okay for you, because you’re married. Everybody is like, “Alright, Gerry. You’re so like Mike, aren’t you?” I’m like, “No.” They’re all, “Yes you are. Tell us how you approach all this.” I know that’s what you’re saying. Don’t pretend with me!
IH: [Laughs] What works? What can they take away? Should we call if they don’t call us back?
KH: Would you want a woman to call you, not once but twice, if you haven’t returned a phone call?
GB: Yeah. I’m busy.
KH: Exactly why you should not call him back... [Laughs]
GB: This is why I’m single!
KH: “I’m so busy! Call me six times and maybe I’ll get back to you...”
GB: Listen, this is why it’s called The Ugly Truth. There is an element of truth in that the second you think the girl is maybe not quite as keen, there is a little more, “Okay...” Sometimes when it’s right in front of you, it’s not as interesting. Is that right?
KH: It’s true.
GB: Okay, please point out that they [the two women] nodded when I said that.
KH: It’s true for women too, though, isn’t it? If you have a guy who is relentless and obviously so into it, sort of a puppy dog at your feet, then it’s not as sexy and interesting as the guy who plays it a little cool. I talk to Josh [Kelley] about this all the time. The next day, I waited until 3:00, but I didn’t wait for him to call me. I waited until 3:00 and I went, “Screw it. I’m going to call him.” I called and invited him out to a friend’s barbeque. He showed up and we had a great time, and it was on from there.
But he played it really cool. It was at least a couple of months before I was like, “Does this guy like me as much as I like him?” It was very disconcerting, but it was intriguing, and I was so into it! He says now, and I think he’s lying, that he was not trying to play it cool. This was just how he was. I was like, “Bulls***! You are not like that!” That was an act, but it worked so great. It was so mysterious and intriguing, and I had to really fight for him to like me as much as I liked him.
Again, there is a fine line between honest and desperate. You can be honest with someone about your intentions and how you feel about them, and you can get the “…Thank you,” and that’s awful. Or you can be honest and they reciprocate. Sometimes it’s just about risking it. What I loved about this movie, and I forgot, is that Abby is really dorky - her spazzy dance and all those things - but I think that is what Mike really loved about her. She wasn’t the Jell-O twins. She wasn’t a perfect package of sex appeal. She did all the wrong things in a way, but they were charming. That was her, who she is, and that’s who Mike falls in love with, versus Eric [Winter]‘s character: He just fell in love with the package.
GB: I thought it was interesting, the difference between the way a guy thinks and a girl thinks, at times. When she said, “I waited ’til 3:00 to call him back,” I thought she was going to say, “I waited until 3:00 before I got out of bed with him.”
KH: Nice. Oh God.
GB: That’s the 'ugly truth'...
IH: It took 35 takes before you got the dinner scene right?
KH: Hold on. It didn’t take 35 to get it right; it took 35 set-ups to film the scene, which is a different thing. I got that on take one, thank you very much.
IH: So faking it was a total breeze for you? [Smiles]
KH: Oh my God, it was a nightmare. And let me tell you, ladies, these were fake orgasms, but… can you imagine? I’m very method... [Laughs] That would have been a terrible day!
GB: I get them all the time! I recognize that!
KH: “I know you’re phoning that one in!” [Laughs] It’s really just physically exhausting. It’s so much physical movement - the legs dancing under the table, all the tensing up of the body - and by the end of the day, I felt like I had done a marathon. I thought I had run 20 miles. I get why it’s called physical comedy, because it’s so physical and it’s exhausting. No one wants to orgasm 35 times.
GB: No matter how well this movie does, that scene is going to go down in the annals of history in comedies because it’s a classic scene. I don’t know many people who don’t love it. Thirty-five takes to get it right? Not at all. It’s one of the most brilliant performances I’ve ever seen. She was so, dare I say, bang-on?!! It was incredible. Watching it again last night, you sometimes marvel. It was amazing... just perfection...
IH: Katherine, you said you followed the dating rules. Now that you’re married, what are the marriage rules, other than the obvious?
KH: I’m not very good at being a wife because I sort of break them all. So does he, though, so whatever... He’s one of my all time favorite people. He’s just such an awesome guy, and it’s not a lot of work. There is always work, there is always compromise and stupid moments: “Really? Really? You can’t put your Coke can in the trash? Really?” That will always exist, but I think the most important thing we’ve learned in the last year and a half, or that I’ve become more aware of and grateful for, is that this person is always on my side. Even when we fight, it’s rough, we’re tired and pissy with each other or whatever, this person is always on my side.
I’m always on his side. That is the one thing I think you cannot mess with. You have to support each other, even when you get pissed. All those underhanded little snarky comments, all the resentment that bursts at times, you have to remember you’re a team. There’s nothing more valuable in this world than having that partner, having that person on your side, because it gets kind of lonely, scary, and weird out there, and I love being able to go home to him.
IH: So what’s the key to happiness?
KH: Oh I don’t know. Vodka? Yeah, that works.
GB: One of those vibrators she uses in the movie...
KH: No, that thing was crap. I told you I was method! You have to respect my process! [Laughs]
GB: It’s funny, that’s why I love that bit at the beginning of the movie where I’m like, “Women who love men who hate them…blah, blah, blah…” you would describe as psychobabble bulls***. I find it funny, as actors, when suddenly you play a role... not just you, but everyone asks, “What is your secret to a relationship and what’s you’re secret to happiness?” I want to go, “I don’t f***ing know, I’m not Dr. Ruth. I have no idea!”
KH: Dr. Phil.
GB: Dr. Gerry.
IH: Do you listen to music to get into character, and if so, what kind?
GB: Yeah, sometimes. I didn’t for this movie. I didn’t think it was necessary. I have done it for movies, especially when it’s an emotional scene, to really put you in the mood, definitely. Techno makes me want to cry... Hard rock: AC/DC made me want to cry or shoot myself - one of the two... [Laughs] How to lose a major part of the fan base? “...he doesn’t like AC/DC? Well then I don’t like The Ugly Truth, you f***er.”
IH: Following up on the R-rated issue, you held back on soem of the visual aspects, and I wanted to ask about that...
KH: You’re saying there were no boobies. The Jell-O Twins should have been topless. [Laughs]
GB: I don’t think you needed it. I think you had it in the language. If there is one thing that is classy about the movie, it’s that. The one thing.
KH: One thing. [Laughs]
GB: No, the ideas and the values are so clever, controversial, unexpected, surprising, and hard-hitting. You don’t need to see tits and vag. It’s not necessary; there’s enough going on. This movie is so hilarious, it works from the guys’ and girls’ perspectives. I think, in an actual fight, none of this feels gratuitous. They are all ideas we react to, we love and we hate. You have a pretty strong reaction to both sides of the coin. I think the rest would have been gratuitous.
IH: Gerard - how about the 'full employment for Scots' policy that seems to be in the film. What are the challenges of working with Craig Ferguson and yet still maintaining your American accent?
GB: Working with Craig — I love Craig. Trying to keep my American accent was a nightmare. I was speaking to his producer yesterday because I’m actually going on his show tonight. I’m always on his show, and he plays my best friend in a DreamWorks movie I’m doing now. It’s called How to Train your Dragon. Normally, that would sound way more innocent than it sounds during this press conference. It’s a DreamWorks animated movie for kids…but maybe it isn’t. I haven’t seen it animated yet. It might be a huge con... “Oh, that’s what that meant?!”
I remember once, years ago, going back to Scotland after spending a summer here, and I was a law student at the time. I’d go back after being here for a few months and nobody could understand a word I was saying. I remember being in this bar and I was speaking to this guy, and he went, “You’re a f***ing Yankee. What the f*** is that?” That’s very much the Scot’s attitude. I was home recently and I said soccer instead of football. I kid you not — I was flush red for a day after. “I said soccer. I said soccer. They are going to kill me.” They will crucify you for that, so I’ve got Craig looking out for me…
IH: Do you play a dragon in the DreamWorks movie?
KH: Or a penis…
GB: Uh, no. I play a Viking. It’s actually about Vikings fighting dragons.
IH: Continuing to look ahead Gerard, can you talk about Gamer?
GB: It’s an action thriller set 10 or 15 years in the future. It’s probably based on the idea of a world of gladiators where there is a world of gamers. They are now taking on a global dimension. The avatars they play are in more of an organic process. Nanotechnology in the future can control humans within the game. I play a prisoner on death row in a game called Slayers. He’s almost made it through to the end and he would be the first person ever to do that.
It’s kind of three different worlds. There is the world of society which is a like a second life, where people can go into that world where the fantasy is, and then of course the norm for reality television and pay-per-view — it always has to go a step further. Now we move on to a Halo or World of Warcraft thing, where like, “We don’t even need war anymore; let’s just watch on television and watch people blow the s*** out of each other.” It’s fun for gamers, but at the same time, it’s a bit of a comment on the lowering standards of morality we have in society with the onslaught of technology and entertainment.
KH: Sounds awesome. When is it coming out?
GB: It is awesome. It’s very entertaining. It comes out September or something.
KH: Is it depressing, though? This is where society is going?
GB: I don’t think it is depressing. It’s actually a fun and entertaining film. It’s very violent. It won’t be for every woman, but a lot of women I know have seen it and loved it because it’s got a lot of guy juice. It’s got that 300 thing going on, and a lot of women like 300 for certain reasons, but at the same time, it makes 300 look like a picnic in terms of its violence. But it’s also, in a way, like an art house action movie because it’s surprisingly brave in the way it tries to paint the world and doesn’t stop at anything. There are no short cuts here. It’s a beautifully painted, dark world that we’ve gone into. I don’t think anybody will have ever seen anything like it before.
IH: And Katherine - you are back at work on Grey's Anatomy - how is this week of juggling both television and movie commitments going?
KH: I’m actually really mad at them right now because they worked me on Wednesday for 17 hours and I thought that was mean. Yup. That’s right. I think we should all boycott Grey’s Anatomy. I think we need to make a point. This can’t continue. Is that even legal? Are they allowed to do that? [Laughs]
GB: Don’t say that! It doesn’t work in print, remember?! Do you know how many people are going to write this down now as a serious comment? “Katie Heigl said she thinks we should all boycott Grey’s Anatomy now...”
KH: Oh s***. [Laughs] I was joking! It’s exciting to be back because I’ve missed my friends, and it was really fun to see everybody. It’s such a strange thing. It’s been two months, but it doesn’t feel like any time has passed at all because you’re right back in the same set, same wardrobe, and with the same people. Maybe you haven’t seen each other for the weekend - that’s what it feels like…aside from Ellen [Pompeo]‘s growing belly. Last time I saw her it was just a tiny bump, and now she’s got a basketball and it’s weird.
Other than that, nothing has changed and it’s wonderful, except for T.R. [Knight]. That was really actually very strange and really hard, because T.R. provided so much fun, joy, and levity for me and everyone else. We were all sitting there… I’m not supposed to talk about this. We had to do a scene about George’s death, and Justin [Chambers] kept saying, “I just keep imagining T.R. on Broadway while we’re mourning the character’s death.” Then we all sort of went, “Yeah, that’s hilarious. Oh, that’s really sad. He would be laughing really hard now too, and he’s not here to laugh with us.” So it’s a little strange in that regard, but other than that, it’s good to be back with my friends and my family.
IH: While we are breaking rules - and in closing, Gerard - what can you tell me about The Bounty Hunter?
GB: Bounty is a comedy I’m shooting with Jennifer Aniston. I play an ex-cop-turned-bounty-hunter who is given the task of going to arrest and bring in Jennifer Aniston, who is a journalist on the run. What is lethally joyful and sadistically satisfying to me is that she’s my ex-wife.
I hate her and I can’t think of anything else better in the world than to bring her ass back to jail. When I go there, she’s doing everything in her power to escape my grasp and get on to this case about police corruption that she’s trying to solve, so she’s trying to bring me into that and meanwhile escape, and all I want to do is stick her in jail.
IH: How is that going?
GB: It’s going amazing. It’s so much fun. She’s incredible and I’m having a blast.
IH: Would you be involved in a sequel to 300?
GB: I don’t know what’s going on with that. I hear rumors, but other than that, I can’t say any more. I thought I died!
'The Ugly Truth' is in theaters from July 24, 2009 from Columbia Pictures.