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62

Bro­manc­ing Ger­ard But­ler...

There have been many great show­biz bro­mances. Paul New­man and Robert Red­ford, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wil­son, Paul Rudd and Ja­son Segel in I Love You, Man. But few have ever held their first of­fi­cial man-date in the pres­ence of the Pres­i­dent and First Lady of the United States.

Ger­ard But­ler and I bonded dur­ing the course of two re­cent CNN in­ter­views. ( The sim­i­lar­i­ties are un­canny — we’re both Ir­ish Catholics, and have both made three movies in the past year.)

Amer­i­can cus­tom dic­tates that all TV news an­chors take a VIP guest to the an­nual White House Cor­re­spon­dents’ Din­ner. Last year, I es­corted the delightful Goldie Hawn. This year, I opted for a man cur­rently star­ring in a smash- hit movie — Olym­pus Has Fallen — as a Se­cret Ser­vice agent who saves the White House from North Korean ter­ror­ists. ‘Now THAT’S good tim­ing,’ I com­mended him.

We strode onto the red car­pet with supreme con­fi­dence, un­til the mo­ment we ac­tu­ally had to pose. ‘Okay, this is a bit awkward,’ I ad­mit­ted.

‘Right,’ he whis­pered, tak­ing ad­mirable charge of the sit­u­a­tion. ‘Firm arms on shoul­ders — NOW.’

Our in­ter­views as a ‘cou­ple’ were even trick­ier to nav­i­gate. ‘So when did you two first meet?’ asked the lady from CBS. ‘Right — enough of this!’ laughed Ger­ard, and we sped into the din­ner, pass­ing Jon Bon Jovi on the way. A man who I can now con­firm has the hard­est hand­shake known to hu­man­ity.

The din­ner was fun, and the speeches from Pres­i­dent Obama and US chat-show star Co­nan O’Brien both hi­lar­i­ous. Al­though it was slightly sur­real sit­ting 20 yards away from the leader of the free world as he erupted into laugh­ter when Co­nan quipped, ‘CNN re­placed the pop­u­lar Larry King with one of the schem­ing foot­men from Down­ton Abbey.’

And slightly an­noy­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence the sheer vol­ume of at­trac­tive women stam­ped­ing past, across and over me to get to my charm­ing date. ‘Never com­plain about your movie-star life

‘Don’t I get a kiss good­bye? Not even a cof­fee back at your place?’

laughed Ger­ard But­ler

again,’ I warned. Af­ter din­ner, we moved on to the French Em­bassy for a star-stud­ded party hosted by Van­ity Fair and the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

In the car, I re­quested a favour. ‘My son Stan­ley’s star­ring in his school play this week. A quick pep talk from you might make up for the fact I can’t make it.’ ‘Of course!’ We called his mo­bile. ‘Hi, Dad.’

‘Hi, Stan. I’ve got some­one who’d like a quick word…’ ‘Stan­ley, this is Gerry But­ler — how are you?’ For the next 10 min­utes, they dis­cussed the play and the craft of act­ing. And I clocked up an early nom­i­na­tion for Dad of the Year.

The party was great fun. Around midnight, I found Ger­ard smok­ing out­side on the ter­race, and sport­ing a be­mused frown. ‘Bar­bra Streisand just told me you went on bended knee at a pri­vate din­ner party in Mal­ibu, and sang her the theme tune to The Way We Were. Can any part of that pos­si­bly be true?’ ‘Yes,’ I con­firmed.

‘She said your singing was ter­ri­ble, but she loved your pas­sion! Singing to Streisand — wow, that’s gutsy, man. GUTSY!’

Back in­side, I bumped ( lit­er­ally) into Katy Perry. ‘When are you do­ing my show?’ I asked. ‘We’ll see.’

‘Come on, you know you want to…’ ‘Oh, I do, I do,’ she gig­gled. ‘But I’m not ready yet.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Be­cause you’ll get the truth out of me.’ ‘And that’s a bad thing?’

‘No, I’m just not ready to tell you the truth! In fact, I’m not sure I’m ready to ad­mit the truth to my­self…’

‘Bey­oncé gave me half a day…’ ‘You think THAT’S go­ing to make me do it?’ ‘Def­i­nitely.’ ‘You Brits are all the same,’ she smiled. ‘So damn con­fi­dent… Trou­ble is, I find that

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