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Gerard Butler pulled out of a promotional trip to Riyadh earlier this week as the disappearance — and possible murder — of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi came to light, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The actor was due to land in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday following stops in London and Tel Aviv to promote action thriller Hunter Killer, which was having its premiere in Riyadh that night, but a rep has confirmed that, in the wake of the Khashoggi scandal, a decision was made to cancel the visit. “Given the circumstances, it was no longer appropriate to make the trip,” the rep stated.
Since Saudi Arabia announced it was lifting a ban on cinemas in December 2017, several stars have visited the country, including John Travolta, Idris Elba and Ian Somerhalder, while crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman courted Hollywood heavyweights during a U.S. tour in April.
With the situation surrounding Khashoggi — a Washington Post columnist who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 — continuing to spark major questions over Saudi Arabia’s involvement, Butler is unlikely to be the last Hollywood figure to cancel plans to visit the country.
During a briefing at the Pentagon on Monday, Butler said that after he was informed about the situation in Saudi Arabia, he felt traveling there would be “incredibly insensitive.”
“It didn’t feel like a good time to be getting involved with that,” he said. “It felt incredibly insensitive to go to Saudi Arabia, even though I felt very badly for the Saudi film company because they did all their work in good faith for us.”
“It just didn’t seem like a situation we would want to get into,” he added, “and it’s not for me to get into solutions.”
Confirmation of his decision came the same day that a number of major organizations —including Viacom, CNN and Bloomberg — pulled out of an investment conference due to be held later this month in Riyadh.
Oct. 15, 1:30 p.m.: Updated to include Butler’s statements at the Pentagon.
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