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“When you get to the

edge of the edge of the edge, that feeling is so powerful.” on a rock as the moon came over the valley. It was so fucking powerful.” He’s quiet for a minute, just staring up at the stars. “We all need a bit of this in our lives.”

It’s starting to get chilly, so we make our way back down the PCH to a Malibu gastropub called Ollie’s Duck & Dive. In the parking lot, Butler takes off his helmet, shivering. “Now I remember why we wanted to be back before dark,” he says. “That was fucking freezing!” We get a booth in the back, and he orders a bison burger, fries, and a Diet Coke—plus some truffle fries to start. Oh, and we have to get the buffalo-sriracha cauliflower. And the roasted corn with chili and lime is amazing. And the pork belly brussels sprouts—we need the pork belly brussels sprouts! Before we know it, the entire four-top is overflowing with food, and a ravenous Butler digs in, shades of Big Nick coming out. “I think maybe my eyes were bigger than my belly,” he admits after a few minutes. “But it’s pretty fucking great, huh? Ever since the crash, Butler has been trying to refine his work-life balance. “I often find, when I finish something, no matter what it is: Let’s try the fucking opposite,” he says. “A perfect example is my line ‘This is Sparta,’ from 300. I’d done four or five takes, and they were all really quiet and very dramatic.” He drops his voice and whispers through clenched teeth: “‘This is Sparta.’ We were finished and were about to move on, and I went, ‘Wait, wait, wait. This! Is! Sparta!’” As he shouts, a few startled fellow diners turn to stare. Now he’s thinking about trying the opposite of working too hard. For the past three years, he’s been in an on-again, off-again relationship with an interior designer named Morgan Brown. They broke up for a brief time last summer but got back together again. (“It’s hard for us to stay away,” Butler says.) He’d like to spend more time with her, and he thinks he’d like kids soon; he’s nearing 50, after all. For all his jockish action hero–ness Butler is secretly kind of a dreamer, a seeker, a wanderer. He enthusiastically recommends New Agey selfimprovement books and recently went to Burning Man for the first time, where he says he “felt creatively free to discover different parts of myself... I just realized that life had a whole other dimension. Just like the ocean exists, whether we use it or not. Being on the edge of the Playa, it was literally like being on another planet.” Careerwise, he’d like to spend some time focusing on smaller and, to his mind, more interesting films—such as Den of Thieves. “I feel like I’m climbing into a different area of performance that I’m excited about,” Butler says. “A new challenge.” His last three major movies—Gods of Egypt, London Has Fallen, and last year’s environmental disaster movie Geostorm—were big-budget action flicks that were widely panned. (When I tell him I haven’t seen Geostorm, he smiles. “You’re not missing much.”) Butler would like to do fewer of those. “I don’t know if they’ll ever fully go away,” he says—after all, he knows what he’s good at. “But, for instance, in Hunter Killer”— a new submarine thriller he has coming out this year—“there’s a Navy SEAL character who everybody thought I was going to play. But I wanted to play the captain.” His reason? “I wanted to make a movie with a lot of action but not have to be involved in any of it.” In the meantime, he has at least one more franchise to get through. He will soon start shooting Angel Has Fallen, the third film in his Has Fallen trilogy, after Olympus and London. “And then, after that,” he says, “I think I’d like to chill.” MJ