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Copshop Stars Gerard Butler And Alexis Louder Bust Out The Details About Their New Crime Thriller - Exclusive Interview

Gerard Butler has tackled several film genres over the years, from action films including "300" and the "Olympus Has Fallen" trilogy to romantic comedy dramas like "P.S. I Love You" and crime capers including "RocknRolla."

Now, a year after starring in the apocalyptic "Greenland," Butler is back with another genre-bender, the intense crime thriller "Copshop." Opening in theaters nationwide Friday, September 17, "Copshop" stars Butler as Bob Viddick, a resourceful assassin on the tail of slick con artist Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo). Teddy knows he's a goner unless he gets really creative, so in an unorthodox move, he sucker-punches rookie police Officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder, "Watchmen") to get arrested and thrown in jail.

He thinks he's found safe harbor since he's in a facility staffed with armed officers, but Teddy's plans are foiled when Bob purposefully gets busted and thrown into the same jail. Locked in a separate cell, Bob is only a few feet away from carrying out the hit on Teddy, but before he can figure out how, another assassin, Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss), infiltrates the detention facility with the same intentions and will brutally kill anyone who gets in his way. Stuck in the middle of it all is Valerie, who must make a crucial decision to let Bob or Teddy go in an effort to stop the carnage Anthony is leaving in his wake.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Butler and Louder discussed director Joe Carnahan's unique take on the crime thriller genre with "Copshop," and Louder weighed in on Butler's impressive resume. Also, Butler — who prefers to be called Gerry over Gerard — reflected on his work in "300" as the film approaches its 15th anniversary in February 2022.

Butler calls Copshop a combination of tension, thriller, chaos, and hilarity

I love the originality of "Copshop." It's not often you see a criminal purposefully getting arrested to get away from a hitman, who also wants to get arrested to take him out — and then finding a rookie cop in the middle of that. That must be an enormously satisfying thing for both of you as actors.

Alexis: Yes, it was a lot of fun to be able to work on something completely original and that had so many nuances and such variety to it. It was just a lot of fun.

Gerry: Yeah, that whole conceit of everybody trying to take over the small-town prison. All the people that typically would want to stay out of prison trying to get in there one after the other, and just building up and all facing off inside there leads to a lot of incredible tension and thrills, and then some mayhem and hilarity.

The dialogue in Copshop is every bit as important as the action

I love that there's action, but also a lot of great dialogue between the two of you and Frank Grillo. That, to me, is the best, because every story starts with a written word. When you have great dialogue like you do in "Copshop," I don't think you can ask for anything better.

Alexis: Yeah. It was a lot like a play. I come from theater; Gerry comes from theater. There was a theatrical aspect to the scene work of being trapped in this small, confined space, and trying to figure out who's telling the truth and who's telling lies and trying to assess out the situation as to why people are after this guy.

Gerry: Also, every character in this movie is just brimming full of personality and jumping out of the screen and smacking you in the face, so there are great characters already with incredible dialogue, and the action is not frivolous. It comes out of character and it comes out of the tension and everybody's motivation. When that happens, you're completely in it. Because even the people you kind of hate, you kind of love as well, and you're sad when any of them have to go. There are a lot of shocking and surprising moments within that, too. As people keep pointing out, people keep getting almost shot by somebody, and then shot by a completely different person. So you never quite know what to expect, because everybody in the movie is so unpredictable.

Louder went to great lengths to learn how to spin her weapon

Alexis, the way you start that film with that gunslinging — that Wild West type of gun slinging — you do it with authority! When and where did you learn to do that? It's not as easy as it looks.

Alexis: I had to get training, and I was practicing for hours ... they made me a replica that was the same weight of the actual gun. It was pretty heavy, and I'd be in my hotel room, just twirling away. In the beginning I was like, "I'm totally going to lose a finger. This is painful." But I worked through it, and I was like, "Alexis, this is going to be so rewarding when you're able to actually do it," and everyone loves that opening shot. I'm like, "What did I do?"

Gerry: I hate that opening shot.

Alexis: Well, you'll get over it!

Gerry: I think it's terrible. Actually, I'm jealous. She did it so well. [Smiles]

Alexis: [Laughter]

Why Copshop is different from other crime thrillers

Gerry, as a veteran of crime thrillers and action thrillers, what do you think Joe Carnahan did to set "Copshop" apart from other films in the genre?

I feel like this has elements of Guy Ritchie films, [Quentin] Tarantino films and the Coen brothers, but it is also its own beast. One, because it's so contained and it feels like the arena, instead of getting bigger as they typically do, gets smaller and smaller and smaller and more suffocating in this pressure cooker.

The characters are so bizarre that they're just ... It's such an exceptionally dark and hard edge, but yet at the same time, it has so much irreverence and hilarity in it. But it never belies the truth of the story, which is this man is marked and everybody's out to get him, and this rookie cop is doing her damnedest to stop that. But it seems like the whole world is raining down on this little police station in the middle of nowhere. I think just even the conceit, the narrative just allows for so much tension, drama, and fun, and then mayhem.

About those Spartan abs Butler had in 300 ...

You're all professionals on set, obviously. But Alexis, did you take time to fan girl out a little bit and ask Gerry about some previous films of his, like "300"? I mean, come on, those abs!

Alexis: He told me they were fake! He told me those abs weren't real!

Gerry: Everything on me is fake. This is a fake face! [motioning to his face]

Gerry brought up Guy Ritchie — I love that. I love "Phantom of the Opera." My wife loves "P.S. I Love You." Gerry, you have so many memorable roles. So Alexis, did you fangirl out a bit and ask him about any of his films?

Gerry: Her mom did! [Laughs]

Alexis: Yeah, I let my mom do my fangirling for me. I was like, "Okay, mom, you're going to get to meet Gerry. This is your opportunity." She's like, "Ohhh!" [Laughs]

Gerry: Yeah, half of these movies you're talking about are before her time, but not her mom's.

Alexis: I mean, I have access to them. I can see ... I've seen them.

Gerry: I'm going to make you see them.

Alexis: I've seen a lot of his movies. I just don't want to talk about them. [Laughs]

Celebrating 15 years of 300

Gerry, early next year is the 15th anniversary of "300," a landmark film for many reasons. Chief among them, of course, is the way Zack Snyder interpreted Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's graphic novel. What is your most vivid memory of working with Zack on the film?

Gerry: I don't think I've ever worked in a movie when the focus and the drive and the warrior spirit was so alive in so many people, but nobody more so than myself and Zack from the first second that we met. We met at a coffee shop in Studio City, and we both ended up jumping over the tables and walking down the street, and just getting up; showing them how we should walk, and he's like, "Yeah, he's getting me!" It just carried on from that with his incredible passion and commitment and dedication.

The other thing I remember about Zack, because he's so talented, right? For instance, if there was something you had to do and sometimes I'd be like, "Well, it's easy to say 'Throw that spear up there and hit that mark, but it's ... that mark's far.'" Then he would go, "Oh, okay, well," and take the spear and throw it right through the mark, through the curtain, like perfect, and I'm like, "F you, Zack. Stop being so cool!"

Yes, Butler's abs in 300 were real

Okay, admit it now, Gerry — fake abs in "300" or not? 

Gerry: No, they were real. I actually could stick my fingers up to there in my abs. I was training for months. I mean, by the time I'd finished, I'd been training for nine months, and I was on a six-hour a day regime. Even when I was filming, I was pumping before every take and training at lunch and training at night. Yeah, I paid the price after, but it wasn't just for the body. It was also for the attitude ... because I kept thinking, "These guys were willing to die in any moment, so the least I could do would be willing to die in that moment to recreate who they were."

"Copshop" opens in theaters nationwide Friday, September 17.