Gerard Butler

With his thick Scottish brogue and manly scruff, Gerard Butler rose to big screen fame as an appealing hero in stylish, battle-oriented epics. His first big break came with the title role in Joel Schumacher's "Phantom of the Opera" (2004) in which Butler sang his heart out, but no one really listened. The viewers who did considered him a second-rate Michael Crawford, so Butler's supposed star-making vehicle stalled. But it became quickly apparent that he really drew the crowds when donning a shield and little else, charging into battle as a seemingly invincible warrior. Woman swooned while men stood and cheered Butler on in the historic actioners "Beowulf and Grendel" (2005) and "300" (2007), where, in the latter, he essayed the sword-wielding King Leonidas of Sparta to an over $400 million worldwide box office take. Riding the crest of post-"300"fame - during which Entertainment Weekly named him fifth on their "Ultimate Male Hottie" list - Butler proved that even with a shirt on, he still possessed appeal while grounded in the here and now. Other late-decade work included an uneven mix of action and romantic comedy films, such as "RocknRolla" (2008), "The Ugly Truth" (2009), "Gamer" (2009), and "The Bounty Hunter" (2010), alongside rumored love interest, Jennifer Aniston. By 2011, Butler's leading man credentials were firmly established; the only question that remained was whether or not he could parlay that reputation into a sustainable career as a headlining star.