Gerard James Butler (born 13 November 1969) is a Scottish actor who has appeared on film, stage, and television. A trained lawyer, Butler turned to acting in the mid-1990s with small roles in productions such as the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), which he followed with steady work on television, most notably in the American miniseries Attila (2001). He garnered critical acclaim for his breakthrough work as the lead in Joel Schumacher's 2004 film adaptation of the musical The Phantom of the Opera. In 2007, Butler gained worldwide recognition through his portrayal of King Leonidas in the film 300. Since then, he has appeared in projects including P.S. I Love You (2007), Nim's Island (2008), RocknRolla (2008), The Ugly Truth (2009), Gamer (2009), Law Abiding Citizen (2009), The Bounty Hunter (2010), and as a voice actor in How to Train Your Dragon (2010).
Butler was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of three children of Margaret and Edward Butler, a bookie. He was brought up in a strict Roman Catholic family. Butler spent the first few years of his life in Montreal, Quebec, before the family returned to live in Scotland.
In London, Butler held a series of odd jobs until being cast by actor and director Steven Berkoff (who later appeared alongside him in Attila (2001)) in a stage production of Coriolanus. He was cast as Ewan McGregor's character Renton in the stage adaptation of Trainspotting, the same play that had inspired him to become an actor. His film debut was as Billy Connolly's character's younger brother in Mrs. Brown (1997).