Gerard Butler has a new movie hitting theaters this month, and you know what that means.
The “Olympus Has Fallen” star will pop up on every outlet worldwide to promote the film. It’s been part of the movie-making process for decades, and it makes perfect sense. In our crowded media climate, you have to make every effort to be seen.
Only Butler is drawing a line in the sand this time around.
His latest film, “Hunter Killer,” co-stars new Oscar-winner Gary Oldman. The movie casts Butler as a U.S. submarine captain trying to stop World War III following a Russian coup.
The actor says he won’t be jetting to Saudi Arabia as part of the “Hunter Killer” push. Headlines surrounding a Saudi Arabian journalist’s disappearance and possible death changed his mind. Recent reports suggest an audio recording captured the journalist’s murder, an attack with possible ties to the Saudi royal family.
Butler made the announcement during an appearance at the Pentagon tied to the project.
“It just didn’t feel like a good time to be getting involved…. It just didn’t seem like a situation we would want to get into,” Butler said.
It’s common for actors to take a political stand these days. In this case, he’ll be limiting his media outreach and, in theory, impacting the film’s international box office receipts.
In short, he’s got some skin in this game, so it’s not another case of Hollywood virtue signaling.
Yet Butler and his peers are remarkably silent about other countries where human rights abuses are common knowledge.
Nikki Haley, the country’s UN ambassador, recently highlighted the horrifying practices in a country the Hollywood community has snuggled up to for some time. Haley cited “re-education” camps in the Communist country as a stain on the nation.
At least a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been imprisoned in so-called ‘re-education camps’ in western China,” Haley reported, accusing Beijing of using torture to force them “to renounce their religion and to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party.
Would Butler promote his new film in China all the same? How about other actors?
Hollywood’s ties to China run deep in 2018. Studios edit their films to appease Chinese censors. They add Chinese actors to boost ticket sales in the country.
Yet very few actors speak out against China’s policies or practices. Richard Gere is a glaring exception. He says major studios have blacklisted him as a result.
So bravo to Butler for standing up for his beliefs. Is it time for other Hollywood stars to do the same when it comes to China?