Not everyone has gotten where they are professionally based on years of hard work. In fact, getting fired from one job can launch your career. That’s how the actor put it while on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Colbert was surprised to hear that Butler was formerly “Gerard Butler, Esquire,” and was once on a trajectory to become a lawyer.
“I studied law for five years, and then I trained as a lawyer for two years,” the actor said, and explained that he used to work for one of the biggest law firms in Scotland.
However, the night before a major interview with the firm, Butler decided to celebrate completing his final exams by getting hammered at a bar with some friends.
He told Colbert:
“They were the last big firm to interview [me], and I missed my interview because of my last exam — I got completely drunk.”
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) October 25, 2018
He didn’t consider nabbing the position a priority, but the firm still expressed interest in interviewing Butler.
“I went and got pissed, missed this big interview and thought, ‘I’ll just tell my mom that I went in and didn’t get it.’ So I called [the firm] and said, ‘I’m so sorry I missed it,’ and they said, ‘No, you can still make it! Get on a train.'”
Despite his hangover, things went well for him.
“So I have to get on a train, and I go there and I’m so hungover, and I ended up getting the job!”
“Like three of us got the job out of like 175 people or something.”
Colbert was understandably confused. He asked Butler:
“Before you go on any further, I need to stop you right here. If you train for seven years for something, why then are you not trying to get a job in the thing that you trained for? At what point in the seven years did it occur to you, ‘I don’t wanna do this,’ and why did you keep going?”
“Listen, in truth, that’s actually a great question, because you study law, and you spend a lot of years doing that, and you think, ‘Well, I should do the next thing. I should do my diploma because I did my degree. And if I’ve done my degree, I should do the traineeship just so I qualify.'”
His epiphany came at the right time: during training.
“And then you find yourself suddenly working at a law firm, and you follow that through and you think, ‘Okay, I can see myself now in retirement age, having done something that — in truth — I don’t care about. I have no interest in this.’ And that’s kind of where it all started going wrong, so when I was training as a lawyer, I wasn’t doing a very good job.”
Many people believe if they focus on getting what they want, it can manifest itself. That’s what Butler did — until he realized, “the reality set in that this was not for me.”
So he focused instead on getting himself fired.
“I ended up becoming — I’m very proud of this — the first trainee lawyer ever in the history of the Scottish legal system to be fired before he qualified.”
Butler admitted that getting fired took a “bit of work.” He missed 32 days of work within two years at the firm. “I think 25 of them were Fridays and five of them were Mondays,” he said.
“Finally, they called me in and they said, ‘Gerry, give us one good reason that we shouldn’t fire you.’ And I said, ‘I can’t think of any reason that you shouldn’t fire me. I would fire me, too,'” Butler said.
Butler’s bosses had a feeling his dreams lay “elsewhere” and they eventually told him to “go be a movie star.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
— The A.V. Club (@TheAVClub) October 25, 2018
Butler appeared on the show to promote his new action thriller, Hunter Killer, which opens Friday.
The plot, based on the 2012 novel Firing Point by Don Keith and George Wallace, follows a group of Navy SEALs on a mission while submerged in a submarine to rescue a Russian President from a coup that could potentially start World War III.
On Monday, Butler promoted his new thriller at the Pentagon, which hopes Hunter Killer would inspire young men and women to consider joining the military.
Gerard Butler briefs Pentagon press on his new movie “Hunter Killer” and his experience filming aboard a U.S. Navy attack submarine pic.twitter.com/FolEApnkbr
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) October 15, 2018
I could watch this hottie all day long 😍
— Diana Prince (@lovinglife0725) October 15, 2018