Olympus Has Fallen (2013) - Former Presidential security officer Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) ©2013 Film District, photo by Phillip V Caruso

In Antoine Fuqua’s exciting new action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, opening on March 22nd, Gerard Butler portrays Mike Banning, a disgraced Secret Service agent who attempts to rescue the President of the United States, Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), and other hostages, when a terrorist organization invades and takes over the White House.

Gerard, coming from Scotland, where does your American patriotism lie?

Olympus Has Fallen (2013) – Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) ©2013 Film District

I grew up in the western world, and America is the beckon of freedom in the free world. You get attached to American ideals and culture to a large extent also. But this movie is not just about being an American. It is very patriotic, but this isn’t just an attack on the White House, this is an attack on the world.

Just like 9/11 was not just an attack on America, it was an attack on the free world. The bombings in London, that wasn’t just an attack on Britain, it was an attack on the world.

At its core, [the movie is about] good against evil, and it’s the mystical journey of a hero. We knew that if we got it right, it would blow the audience’s mind and they would take this ride with the characters. But every moment had to be justified and real.

How did you prepare for all the action sequences in the film?

Olympus Has Fallen (2013) – Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) ©2013 Film District

I’ve done a lot of action movies and worked with a lot of stunt teams. We had a phenomenal stunt team in this movie, former Navy SEALs and martial arts experts. So for me I was just constantly practicing my moves.

Every second I could I was pumping weights. You just get in there and hope you don’t make a fool of yourself.

Would you have preferred to be in the Crisis Room with the likes of Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett?

Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and Leah (Radha Mitchell) ©2013 Film District

To be honest, I was very jealous the week that Morgan arrived, because literally this excitement came over the whole set. It was amazing to watch. A lot of  my favorite stuff in this movie is what happens in the Crisis Room, it’s so incredibly gripping.

What is it that those people do that we don’t know about when this happens? 9/11 we were saying, ‘Where’s the President? Who is making the decisions?’ This incredible cast humanized these characters so you could see the decisions that they have to make.

They are real people having to make split-second decisions that will affect the planet, and the stakes are rising and they’re going into territory where there is no protocol for even what they do.

Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) and Conner (Finley Jacobsen) ©2013 Film District

I would have loved to be involved with that, but it’s fun to go and kick ass as well. I wanted to make this guy incredibly brutal and uncompromising to give some satisfaction that I feel in our recent history we never felt that we got. After 9/11, it was done, everybody was gone.

Here we have a standoff situation with an escalating international crisis, but the terrorists are there and we need to see some payback.

Gerard was asked what it was like showing the movie to the military in Camp Pendleton recently? Click below for his reaction, when he used his recorder to show us.

[jwplayer config=”Audio” mediaid=”34047″]

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane