Sleeping on his left side – he loves it ("I love sleeping on my left side!"). Biting his toenails – he used to, but he can no longer get his foot up to his mouth. Heroics – he's your man. While on a picnic once with his mom in Scotland, he heard the screams of a young boy about to drown in the River Tay; he jumped in, rescued the lad, and was later awarded a certificate of bravery from the Royal Humane Society. And he wasn't even famous yet.
Sensitive? Sure. Just ask Aniston. "You don't get more of a full-blown guy than Gerry," she says. "But what makes him so appealing is that he's also really vulnerable. And without pretense. He'll be the first person to joke about the fact that he's been on a cleanse for five days and a cupcake just went by and he just couldn't help himself. He's unbelievably likable."
Fielding intrusive questions? Yup, he can do that, too, albeit with a yelp.
Is he comfortable with the size of his penis?
"What the fucking Christ kind of thing is that to ask?" he barks. But then he warms to the question nicely. "I am, actually, yeah. It's maybe the one area of my life where my confidence surpasses the reason to be so. I remember at school the joking about penis size: 'Oh, I have to wrap it around my waist and stick it in my pocket!' I'd joke about mine being tiny, because I knew mine wasn't tiny, but I knew theirs didn't go to the moon either. So when we all turned up in the showers, they'd be looking down at theirs – 'Maybe I can't wrap it around my waist; maybe it won't even reach my hip' – while I'm like, 'This is just fine.';"
And then there's his smile. His smile is totally weird, this off-slant, half-downward-sloping slash without which it'd be hard to imagine him. And yet he wasn't born with it. It came later, some time after his 10th year, when he developed an ear infection that led to surgery, a case of tinnitus (which he still suffers from, minorly), and the loss of half the hearing in his right ear. The episode had two other consequences. One he didn't find out about until he was filming 'Tomb Raider'. "I was born with two sticking-out ears, and after the operation one ear was really thrown back in, but I didn't realize it until I had to shave my head for that movie. Everybody went, 'Holy fuck, one ear sticks out way more than the other one!' And we literally had to glue it back." The other consequence was his smile. "I know a couple of other people with crooked smiles, and it turns out they're hard of hearing in one ear." That's his most current explanation for it. He's had others. "When I was younger, I looked like I had a stroke – I mean, you never know – and because my mind sometimes feels like it's melted down, I'd think, 'Maybe I did have a stroke!' That would sure explain a lot of things."
Butler is surprisingly open about this sometimes melted-down-feeling mind of his. Late in the day at Neptune's Net, he says, "I am slightly addicted to anxiety. When I'm feeling anxious, I'll create more anxiety for myself. Like I might call all these people about what's fun to do tonight and end up with four different options, which in itself would put me into a blind panic; but then I'll make another four calls just to make it 10 times more anxiety-ridden."
He looks at his watch. In 20 minutes, he has a business appointment that will take him an hour to get to. It's with Marc Foster, the director of his next movie, 'Machine Gun Preacher', which actually sounds like a good one, the true story of a former drug-dealing biker type who found God and went on the war path to save Sudan's child soldiers. Butler really should get up and get the heck out of here. Instead, he continues talking.
"That I got through all that I got through to be where I am, it doesn't make sense – this kind of lost soul studying law in Scotland and then moving to London with no experience as an actor, and with his morals not about him, who couldn't keep his shit together, who couldn't even feed himself properly, and to get ahead in a career like this, which is probably one of if not the most difficult professions to get ahead in – nothing else makes sense except to think that I was being guided and all this was meant to be, the same way you see the crooked smile as a blemish or imperfection, or being fired as a lawyer horrific, when those are the very things that end up helping you.
"My thing now is to appreciate the cosmic beauty of everything that's happened. But then again, do I spend a lot of time in my own head judging myself? Absolutely. Have I ever thought I was a fraud? Maybe 18 hours a day. Do I spend more time damning myself than promoting myself? Absolutely. In the last five years since coming out here, I've had two relationships. I'm not a big relationship guy. One of my vices is, I'm too wrapped up in myself and not always in a good way. It's not like I walk around going, 'Hey, I'm amazing; I'm Gerry Butler!' But I am too caught up in my own shit, good and bad. The whole banging-the-bottle-against-my-head thing that I did as a kid – it's a metaphor for how I've loved to cause myself pain. I've spent a lot of time taking the path of most resistance instead of least.
"Maybe I have an important meeting," he continues. "I don't consciously turn up late, but I will find that I subconsciously create circumstances that'll make me so late that on the way I'm going, 'Why would you do this? This is so fucked!' And by the time you're in the meeting, you're in negative land and you have to try to fight yourself into positive land. I'm always battling that."
Outside Neptune's Net, it's dark, and a million lights glow in the distance. Having talked himself silly without taking a break, Butler heads off to the Porta-Potties, where a guy lurking about gets him to sign his shirt. The minutes are ticking by. He hasn't even looked at his watch. He is so fucked. And he doesn't even know it. But here's the great thing about being Butler. It won't matter how late he is. It'll all work out fine, and soon enough he'll have yet another good reason to sit back and once again appreciate the cosmic beauty of everything that's happened.