Gerard and Aaron give SA the thumbs up

2013-04-10 08:48
Ilan Preskovsky
Johannesburg - As part of their whirlwind worldwide tour promoting the Antoine Fuqua's action-thriller Olympus Has Fallen, stars Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler were welcomed enthusiastically by hundreds of fans at the Johannesburg premiere of the film on Monday night.

Speaking at a press junket the next day, both stars were quick to praise South Africa and her people.

"Delightful" was how Eckhart described his quick stay in Johannesburg as he drew special attention to the previous night's premiere: "We met hundreds of people. Really, it was on fire. Very energetic and very welcoming."

'I've had great times here'

For Butler, who is no stranger to these shores, there is an even deeper connection.

"I love this place. Which is one of the reasons why we chose to come down here for the tour," he told Channel24.

"I just find this country really enchanting and the people incredibly warm and I've had great times, in different ways, every time I've come here."

He points to his experience shooting Machine Gun Preacher in South Africa: "To me, it was one of the most special movies I ever made so it [South Africa] has stuck with me, in my psyche, for many different reasons." 

Both actors also stressed that the film should work as well for South African audiences as it has for Americans. That the main villains of the piece, North Korea, has been in the news lately only makes it all the more resonant for all audiences.

As Butler puts it: "You make a movie with relevance to what's going on in the word today and what is most in people's conscience and what worries peoples the most, so the Korean predicament seemed like an oasis for tension and drama."

North Korea attack

"Geopolitically, North Korea has positioned itself as the villain with their closed culture and their antagonism for their neighbours," said Eckhart.

But he is also quick to point out: "As the movie business becomes more and more of a global proposition and you get money from all over the world, you have to be careful about who you're placing as your villain because you might be offending the very people who are giving you money. So North Korea makes for a great villain."

Both actors, though, see the film as being less about North Korea as much as it is about terrorism in general.

Said Butler: "It's a film about terrorism. People are so vulnerable now, especially to terrorism. I think this movie is basically saying that there is a fragility to freedom... we took it to the brink of showing what an ass kicking America could receive, while still allowing for the film to get made."

The two stars are expected to go on Safari on Wednesday before heading home.
Olympus Has Fallen, which tells of a terrorist attack on the White House, is released in South Africa on Friday, 12 April.