Gerard Butler Had to Glue His Right Ear Back to Film His ‘Tomb Raider’ Sequel Due to a Frustrating Condition He’s Had Since Childhood

To many fans, it seems as though celebrities lead truly charmed lives. Movie stars have fame, fortune, and good looks—so it’s hard to believe that they struggle with very common health problems. For this reason, the world of celebrity health conditions is exceptionally fascinating. Gerard Butler is a good example of this, a handsome action star who has been a staple in Hollywood for two decades. In his private life, however, Butler struggles with a condition called tinnitus and he’s not the only celebrity with a hearing-related health condition.

Gerard Butler’s experience with tinnitus

Gerard Butler on the red carpet
Gerard Butler | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Butler didn’t start out as an actor. In fact, the Scottish-born performer originally studied law before turning to acting in the mid-90s. He also had a few health issues before getting his start in Hollywood. As Butler told Men’s Journal in 2010, he developed a serious ear infection when he was 10 years old. The infection caused Butler to develop a disorder called tinnitus and to suffer partial hearing loss in his right ear. Butler underwent surgery in an attempt to save his hearing, during which the doctor pinned his right ear closer to his head. 

The experience would later affect Butler’s Hollywood career, with IMDb reporting that when he had to shave his head for his role in 2003’s Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, he noticed that his ears appeared very crooked: “I didn’t realise it until I had to shave my head for that movie… Everyone went, ‘Holy f**k, one ear sticks out way more than the other one!’ And we literally had to glue it back.”

Butler’s tinnitus would also affect his smile, with the actor rocking a slightly crooked smile due to the inner-ear condition. “I know a couple of other people with crooked smiles, and it turns out they’re hard of hearing in one ear,” Butler would tell Men’s Journal.

What causes tinnitus?

According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is usually caused by an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or a problem with the circulatory system, although prolonged exposure to loud notice can also cause tinnitus. Tinnitus is a relatively common condition, causing the sufferer to experience ringing or other noises in one or both ears. Tinnitus affects everyone differently, so while some sufferers could experience extreme ringing or discomfort, others might not be bothered by their symptoms.

Doctors often diagnose tinnitus based on symptoms alone, although they will check to see if they can treat the underlying condition. Although tinnitus can rarely be completely cured, some treatments include earwax removal, treating a blood vessel condition, hearing aids, or changing up a medication. Doctors might also prescribe white noise machines or masking devices to help cope with the effects of tinnitus.

Celebrities who struggle with hearing disorders

Butler isn’t the only celebrity who has been diagnosed with tinnitus. According to Oakwood Solicitors, other celebrities who have suffered from tinnitus include Whoopi Goldberg, who treats her condition with hearing aids, Steve Martin, guitarist Pete Townshend, and Coldplay singer Chris Martin. For the latter two celebs, their tinnitus developed as a result of playing loud music. 

Popular singer Jessie J suffers from Ménière’s disease, an inner ear condition that causes many of the same symptoms as tinnitus, including dizziness and vertigo. Other celebrities, such as Jennifer Lawrence, developed inner ear disorders after difficult filming conditions. In 2013, the actor opened up about her experience with sudden hearing loss due to repeated ear infections, which she got after some scenes required her to dive into deep water. Stranger Things actor Millie Bobbie Brown, on the other hand, was born with partial loss of hearing in one ear. Brown has admitted that her struggle with hearing loss has led her to better develop her skills at unique facial expressions. 

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