Friday, January 20, 2006

Better Late than Never or The Joys of a Dark Hero by Diane Perkins

I know this will shock most of you. So you must sit down.(Ready?)
I watched The Phantom of Opera for the first time this week. (Don’t faint! I warned you)
I missed it in the movie theater when it came out and I never got around to renting it, even when my friend Patty (who is actually attending the Gerard Butler Conference in Edinburgh this week - I’m not kidding) told me I must. Even a woman I met for the first time at Curves told me I should rent it. I didn’t. This week it appeared on TV while my husband was channel surfing. It took him less than five minutes to change the channel--the singing, you know. But it took an even shorter time for me to order it on HBO On Demand after he went to bed.

Lots of superlative things I could say about the film - the beauty of the sets, the cinematography, the beautiful music, the wonderful performances. Oh, but the Phantom! He is the movie. Gerard Butler was magnificent, a powerful, emotional performance. I loved his rough singing voice and his physical grace and his piercing green eyes.

Butler played the dark hero to perfection, in a role that was perfection.

What could I, as a romance writer, learn from this? (If I could learn to write a hero like that, I’d hit the NY Times best-seller list for sure!) With this idea in mind I have been watching Gerry Butler play the Phantom over and over all week (just research- honest). Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. The Phantom is very sensual (I’m being careful with words here. I don’t want any filters to prevent you from reading my sage words.) He moves with sensuality, sings and speaks with it.
2. His sensuality is restrained. When he touches Christine, it is always with restraint. Not grabbing or pinching for our Phantom! This really heightens the anticipation.
3. He’s damaged. The Phantom has been unloved since childhood, mistreated and rejected. He buys into other’s perceptions of himself, as well. He believes himself unlovable.
4. Because of the above, he is vulnerable. He still can be hurt. You first see this when Christine and Raoul are on the roof, falling in love and kissing, and the Phantom is witnessing it, realizing that it is his music that caused Raoul to fall in love with her.
5. The Phantom is capable of intense emotion. When he loves, you can feel it. When he is in pain, you hear it in his voice, see it in the way he breathes, witness it in his tears. When he is angry, he is wrathful. His emotions are most raw when his weakness is exposed - when he is unmasked.
6. The Phantom is powerful (he can control the whole theatre) and dangerous (he can kill to protect what he sees as his. ). He has honor, although it is his own style.
7. He loves to the point of obsession. Christine is his reason for living. He desperately needs her love, but, feeling unlovable, will settle for possessing her.
8. Love redeems him. When Christine gives him her love, when she kisses him, he can then give up everything for her. When he sings, “It is over now, the music of the night,” he has given up everything, even the world he built for himself.

I’m sure there’s more I’m missing here. Maybe the one ingredient that will ensure my next book will hit that best-seller list. I think I need to watch The Phantom of the Opera a few more times. Perhaps buy the DVD. And the soundtrack. I’m definitely going to see the play on Broadway next time I’m in NYC (I’m checking the train schedule as we speak...) Come to think of it, maybe I should rent some other Gerard Butler movies--Dear Frankie, Tomb Raider, Attila....

Just for research.....

(Diane wants to know who your favorite dark hero is - in fiction, TV, or movies)


Paula Quinn said...

welcome to the world that is Gerry, Diane. You haven't seen Attila? Oh, but you must...just for research.

Lori Wilde said...

Guess I'm the odd ball. Saw Phantom and couldn't figure out what the fuss was all about. Could be the singing.

Louis said...

To me it is "Zorro". He is driven to help the people of California.
Tyrone Power's black and white version is the better version to me. Banderas and Ceta-Jones's version is a much expanded movie over the earlier version.

MaryF said...

You want dark? Tomb Raider 2 is pretty dark. Dear Frankie is mysterious. Attila is, um, lots of barechestedness.

Great analysis of Phantom, Diane!

Diane Perkins said...

I mostly remember the TV version of Zorro, which was one of my childhood favorites. Must catch the Tyrone Power one too. I know I've seen it before! But I agree, Zorro is a great hero, a man with a cause!

Paula, I could kick myself for not seeing Phantom on the big screen, but at least my DVD and my CD are in the mail!

Mary, just as soon as I have a break, I'm headed to Blockbuster!

Lori, my friend Carol would agree with you about the singing. (Don't you think a man who can sing is appealing???) But she and I have an agreement to see Beowulf and Grendel when it comes out this Spring (She is who I had the contest with for who could see Pride & Prejudice the most. We tied at four times )


Jessica V. said...

Just a random surfer here (and future published novelist) who found your link from Michelle Rowan's... I just have to say right on! I adored the Phantom movie and kept my poor hubby busy the whole way back from the theater with discussions of 'Why she should have chosen the Phantom.' The soundtrack is awesome and is very good for inspiring dark, passionate insights about your main character. P.S. Dear Frankie is a MUST see! Total tearjerker!!

Colleen Gleason said...

Another Gerry Butler lover! Another Phantom lover! Welcome, welcome, Diane!

Here's a bit of trivia for you: did you know that the Point of No Return scene was the first one Gerry filmed when they started production of Phantom? Knowing that just makes his acting even more amazing.

I love your list of what makes him so dark and yummy. It's dead on and makes me want to go watch it again. (And by the way, I have the two-disk DVD. You should watch the Making Of part.)

SaraD said...

You are absolutely right about the Phantom's magnetic appeal. I loved your list and have now started my own about favorite heroes in movies. It's hard to choose my favorite dark hero- it's definitely a tie between MacLeod in the TV series _Highlander_ and the title character in _Angel_. Such a fun choice!

Anonymous said...

As one of those gals that just got back from Gerry's convention (in Glasgow, actually) I say, WELCOME to all that is Gerry. Yes, I understand the "research" thing. Been there! Do rent his other work. He's really pretty in Timeline, and Tomb Raider, but you can see his depth in Dear Frankie, Attila and The Jury (BBC miniseries). He really is quite amazing. I loved your take on the Phantom. Hmmm, now I have to go watch it...again!

Cathy Grant
catmac (over at

Anonymous said...

Ack, typo fairy attack. it's Ignore all those extra l's!

cathy again

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane,

You are one smart lady. Loved your assessment of Gerry as the Phantom. I've lost count of how many times I've seen it and it still captivates me. Do see his other work. No matter what the story is, he brings passion and depth to the role. He is one of the best at his craft. He ain't hard to look at either.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Perkins, I was very glad to see your' comments on Mr. Butler.
Since you have at least one friend who is a fan,and your friend who went to the convention is obviously a tart.
I would not be surprised if her
response to your' assessment would
be something like.

Duh??? What do you think I've
trying to TELL you ????

Welcome to our obsession,
*(strictly for research of course)

A not too tart Tart.

caireen said...

Hi Diane,

I totally agree with you, your article is just reflecting my thoughts about the movie.
Gerard was - from my point of view - the best choice for the phantom, because he managed it to deliver the feeling not only by acting but also within his voice.


(member of

Diane Perkins said...

Wow. I thought the life of my blog had expired long ago. I should have known anything that mentions Gerry Butler or the Phantom will get a response!

Yes, my friend's response to my reaction was polite but essentially as A Not Too Tart Tart put it.

I am totally obsessed. Through Patty I have now watched lots of videos - TV interviews and such- and I am so impressed by this man! You just have to smile at him. His charm is so unaffected. You just know he'd be as friendly to you if you ran into him at a pub as he appears on TV. I love the wide-eyed wonder at his popularity, but giving total credit to the fans.
No wonder he earns such affection!

Thank you all for sharing your enthusiasm with me.

see you on!


Anonymous said...

Hi Diane,

I guess you know by now that you've been "outed" as a new fan of Gerry Butler's Phantom. I just read your blog entry when I received the link from another "tart friend", and I have to say, you've been "butlerized". You have all the signs and symptoms that we all have been stricken with and seem to be unable, or unwilling, to recover from. And it's not just because he is "drop dead sexy". It's his humor, kindness, genuine affection for his fans, his love for his family (we met Mom at the convention), and everything else that makes him so attractive to us. He doesn't think he's that "special", even though we know he really is. I could go on and on, but you will have many others dropping in here as well, so I'd better stop. I plan to check out some of your books, and hope that you will come by and join us at If you do, post a hello and reference your blog, so we'll know who you are. However, please beware!! Once you've entered Gerryland, you may never be the same again.

pat berschied (patb ky on

Patty said...

Since I was one of the ones encouraging Diane to see Phantom and sung the praises of Gerry, it seems I should add that it is really fun seeing her pick up on Gerry's greatness. Will be telling her about all the wonderful things that happened at the convention and will now be getting her to see the Dear Frankie movie -- another gem of Gerry's. With the aid of the director, Shona Auerbach, we were able to take about 90 of the convention goers to film sites in Greenock. and the author/screenwriter met with us afterwards at a tea to talk about her Dear Frankie experiences. so it was a great timein Scotland. And I know that Diane would appreciate the author, Andrea Gibbs, reaction to the viewers admiration to the film.

Now we just need to continue to encourage Gerry's films and hope that Burns gets made. Talk about a Romance readers dream come true.

Diane I'm so glad you're now part of the Gerry admiration club and know that this can only bring more inspiration into your fantastic writing.

patty (britagent on

Anonymous said...

Can't resist jumping in and saying welcome aboard the Gerry express! My first fan club experience and what a blast! Loved your assessment of Erik ( insider's must know the Phantom's real name) and look forward to reading your books. There are several authors at and they are fun to read since many become inspired by 'our'favorite actor. Regarding favorite heroes, I had the opportunity to see Beowulf and Grendel, I can't believe I'm saying this but he may have replaced Erik, then it will proably be Leonidas
Cheers- Teri S from

Diane Perkins said...

I am eager to work my way through GB's other films. On my schedule for my next blog - Feb 20 - is my reaction to the Stranger in Dear Frankie. I have ordered the DVD and am chomping at the bit to watch it.

I love meeting my new friends. Another experience of opening up a new world of great people to me!