The 24 maddest moments from Gerard Butler's Pentagon press conference

Ali Gray

16th October 2018

Because global politics isn't weird and backwards and horrifying enough right now, Washington reporters gathered together yesterday afternoon for a Pentagon press conference, not to ask questions of President Trump, or his press secretary Sarah Sanders, or even White House advisor Stephen Miller, the Salacious Crumb to Trump's Jabba. No, today's speaker would be Gerard Butler, actor and star of forthcoming submarine thriller Hunter Killer. Perfectly normal, just another normal day, nothing to see here, so normal it hurts.

Since 2016, I've had to make room in my morning routine for a five-minute scour of news sites, just to make sure the world hasn't ended overnight because Donald Trump called Bashar al‑Assad a pussy on Twitter or something. Met as I was with the news that Gerard Butler was giving a Pentagon press briefing, it was, on balance, good news, but it does still rather make you think that all once-sacred American places of democracy are now being rented out to the highest bidders. Throw your kids the birthday of a lifetime at the White House, and if your daughter is under 12, President Trump will perv on her for free!

Granted, Butler wasn't there to defend the actions of Donald Trump, rather promote his new movie Hunter Killer, which was made with the full cooperation of the US Navy. You can watch the full Gerard Butler Pentagon press conference here - thanks to esteemed YouTube channel 'Space Force News' for hosting it - but I've broken it down and dished up only the highlights below. Highlights of the Gerard Butler Pentagon press briefing. Which is definitely a real thing that happened. The world is mad libs now.
00:05 - Gerard Butler is welcomed on stage to no applause

I'm not saying Gerard Butler was expecting applause, maybe it's that I was expecting applause, but he doesn't get even a polite hand clap. In true shambolic White House style, Butler reveals he didn't even know he was going to have to give a speech until two minutes before he went on. Thus, for the first two minutes of the press conference, the actor Gerard Butler is very much winging it. "More than anything it was a chance to bring the submarine genre into the 21st century," he says, "into submarine culture". I don't know what 'submarine culture' is but Gerard Butler clearly wishes he was 1000ft underwater.
2:16 - "Am I missing anything? I'm not quite sure what I was supposed to talk about"

The first visible sign of panic that Gerard Butler is officially In Over His Head. He shoots a look to Vice Admiral Fritz Roegge - pronounced 'Roagie', so that's what we're sticking with - that says 'help me the fuck oot, mon" (reminder: Gerard Butler is Scottish). He thinks it's bad now. It's about to get worse.
2:53 - The first question about Saudi Arabia

Also probably around the same time that Gerard Butler realised this press conference probably wasn't the best idea.
4:23 - The second question about Saudi Arabi

I think it's pretty clear at this point that when he woke up this morning, Gerard Butler hadn't envisaged taking questions from White House reporters about the alleged state-sanctioned murder of journalists. The question is at least vaguely relevant, as the Hunter Killer press tour was to take Butler and crew through Saudi Arabia - including an audience with Mohammad Bin Salman - but he's diplomatic enough in his answers. At least he actually gives a fucking answer, naming no names, SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS.
5:00 - Gerard Butler finally gets a question about submarines

Finally! Big smiles. Just talk aboot the movie, Gerry he thinks. A reporter from Fox News lobs Butler a softball about how he felt shooting a movie on a submarine. "It's such a broad question!" he hoots. It's not, it's incredibly specific. Nonetheless, the relief on his face is palpable. Just talk aboot submarines, Gerry.
5:40 - Gerard Butler lifts the lid on military technique

Butler is talking about the drills he and the crew did onboard the military submarine. Another glance to Admiral Roagie. "I don't know if I'm allowed to say this..." You sense the reporters perk up: is Gerard Butler, of all people, about to lift the lid on U.S. military protocol? Hold page one! "When they do a Man Overboard drill," says Butler, "they don't throw a man overboard. They throw a bag of popcorn." I love that Gerard Butler thought that mentioning the popcorn might be classified information. Whatever you dae, don't tell them aboot the Butterkist, Gerry.
6:17 - Gerard Butler compares working on a submarine to being on another planet

"You're entering another country, another world... it's like an alien planet." A quick scour of Gerard Butler's IMDB tells us that he has, in fact, never made a movie where he's set foot on an alien planet, so it figures he might make this ill-advised comparison, lacking the experience to comment accurately. I very much doubt they are like alien planets, though. Submarines are basically like underwater cars, aren't they? It's just a bit cramped, it's not Jupiter.
7:54 - Gerard Butler's accent slips into American

Seven minutes into this press conference (at the Pentagon) and Butler's accent begins the inexorable slide towards Americanisms. I actually quite like Gerard Butler's Scottish accent, and the fact that he usually makes no effort to hide it, and that it's actually detectable unlike Christian Bale the fake Welshman, but perhaps under the hot lights (at the Pentagon) nerves get the better of him and the 't's turn to 'd's. Throughout the conference (at the Pentagon), we'll hear "underwader", "civilidy", "realidy", "plausibilidy", "humanidy" and best of all, "baddle stations".
8:25 - The first look at his agent to see if it's almost over

It's not. There's still over 20 minutes left.
8:41 - A reporter asks the weirdest fucking question

A female reporter from some military magazine asks a three-part question, proving that it isn't just men with neckbeards at post-screening Q&As that do it. The first two parts of the question are fairly generic, but the third part really throws Butler for a loop: "Did you get to work out while you were on the submarine?" He answers the first two questions before getting flustered at the final one, perhaps not sure if it was a serious question, or if it even happened at all: "What was the last question?" he says. The response: "So you didn't work out?" It's all very confusing, even for a Gerard Butler press conference at the Pentagon.
9:35 - Gerard Butler throws a question out to the Admiral

Butler is flagging. He's hurting out there. He's the actor equivalent of when footballers need to lie on their backs and get physios to pump their legs to rid them of lactic acid. This is a man who once saved the White House from terrorists - how he must be wishing for terrorists now. He's asked an innocuous question about submarine living quarters, a question that would have delighted him four or five minutes ago. But now he's struggling. "I don't know how many bunks..." he starts, before looking to Admiral Roagie, hoping he'll throw him a metaphorical life raft. Nothing. No response. The official U.S. military response in this particular conflict was to not react at all. "By the way if you want to answer any questions Admiral, you are absolutely..." Butler trails off, but the intent is clear: Help us the fuck oot Roagie man, jings crivens help ma boab.
12:32 - The third question about Saudi Arabia

It gets a two word answer: "yes" and "yes". A room full of journalists strike the words "Ask the actor Gerard Butler more questions about Saudi Arabia" from their notebooks.
12:33 - Gerard Butler takes a sip from a bottle of water

This is notable because he does it in exactly the same weird way as Donald Trump when he's on stage: pursing his lips together like a little puckered butthole and pushing the bottle into them to create a vaccum, like drinking a bottle of water is a military exercise or something. Or should we say "a boddle of wader".
14:06 - Gerard Butler throws Admiral Roegge under the bus

Butler clearly does not even listen to this question, his mind is elsewhere. It's clearly a question more suitable to, uh, this guy, over here. Butler expertly deflects: "As to the more specifics of that question, I'll let Admiral Roegge... " and like that he's gone, off camera, presumably to quickly Google 'Saudi Arabia controversy' on his phone. You can't escape, Butler. This is the Pentagon.
16:53 - Enter Roagie the wingman

Butler re-enters the stage, newly woke, to field more questions about submarines and shit, specifically about an exercise where Navy men (note to self: Google what the collective term is for men in the Navy) have to fix a leak in a tiny room before it fills up with water. Roagie steps in to plug hard for his boy Gerard: "It was intended as a demonstration but Mr Butler said 'Can I go in and try?'" A+ bum-licking there, Admiral. 'Roagie' is a great name for a wingman. Butler continues: "I like to conquer my fears. When I stepped in, I thought this is probably a bad idea. I am still not completely sure whether it wasn't a bad idea." It's not clear at this point if he's talking about the submarine exercise or the press conference. SAILORS. Of course!
20:35 - Roagie with the hard sell

Roagie has taken center stage by this point, while Butler stands to the side, mentally drafting a new movie called 'Pentagon Has Fallen'. The Roagmeister basically admits that the Navy partners with Hollywood to try and indoctrinate kids into joining the military - some neat, super-liminal messaging there. Also he reads out the name of the website "dubya dubya dubya dot navy dot mil" like it's 1996.
22:37 - Gerard Butler is back talking about submarines again

Butler returns to reveal he got to have a go on the periscope of an old submarine, but that the new ones don't have periscopes, they have joysticks, which obviously doesn't read particularly well on screen. Although if you're trying to get 18-24-year-olds to join the Navy, maybe making it seem more like a videogame is the way to go.
22:44 - Gerard Butler talks about submarine movies

"A lot of my favourite movies before this movie were submarine movies," he says. This sounds like a lie. I checked the internet, and there's no record of Gerard Butler ever showing preference towards movies set on or around submarines. He has previously shown affinity for Apocalypse Now and Star Wars, but he has never mentioned Das Boot or The Hunt for Red October before this press conference. Fake news.
24:48 - Gerard Butler refers to "Daz Boat"

Butler is getting quite animated now, talking about Das Boot, which he pronounces "Daz Boat", like a promotional vessel for the leading washing powder brand. He claims he once sat in a London cinema with only one other person in it, watching Das Boot, and that he stood up and yelled "This is how you make movies!" This is also a lie.
26:09 - Gerard Butler realises he's at the Pentagon, doing a press conference, at the Pentagon

Butler references the Pentagon as a faraway place before realising it's where he's presently standing. A small moment of self-awareness creeps in when Gerard Butler realises the lunacy of his present situation: he's actually at the Pentagon, taking questions from the likes of CNN, who are more used to grilling Trump's morally vacant mouthpieces. He continues regardless, and at this point you realise that Gerard Butler has been answering a fairly innocuous question about submarine movies for four whole minutes, and has thus cracked the only way he's going to get out of this thing - running out the clock by filibustering the questions.
28:30 - Someone asks the question: "You mentioned earlier that the plot began to feel a little bit more plausible from the moment when you first looked at the script, which is perhaps in many ways a symptom of changing geo-political relations, so did you develop an opinion or an appreciation of the delicacy of U.S. Russian relations as you began to examine the script, and how did that change from when you first got it until today?"

Butler gives a long and rambling answer, which basically boils down to "Yes, but I don't care."
30:00 - It's over!

And just look how happy he is!
30:12 - Navy suit fanboys all over Gerard Butler

A suit and tie from the Navy takes to the stage to relieve Butler from active duty. "Now that I've followed Gerard Butler to a microphone I can officially retire from public life," he swoons. Ugh. "Admiral, and Gerry - [to the reporters] I call him Gerry... isn't that great?" Ughhhhhh. Still, I'll let him have it. It might be the worst day of Gerard Butler's life, but it's the best day of his.
32:30 - No, wait! There's one last surprise question!

The press conference is, at least officially, over. But one sneaky journalist manages to sneak in a follow-up question, catching a relaxed Butler off-guard. "What's easiest, a Pentagon press conference or a Hollywood press conference?" He pauses and deliberates for what seems like minutes. "This has not been easy for me," he intones, staring directly at the reporter. Another minute passes, probably one in which Trump insults an entire continent, the Saudis murder another journalist and Putin turns the screw tighter still on global democracy. "But it's been fun!" Another lie.

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