A Sure Bet | Paul Bettany
an emily blunt interview
has been on my smitten-with list since I can remember. I suffered
through that horrible A Knight's Tale
humble and thankful for any frame he graced. I was tickled pink
when he appeared as Russell Crowe's "best friend" in
A Beautiful Mind. And in yet another
completely different style role within notoriously gritty Gangster
# 1 Paul's anything but lovable, character-wise.
He's a wonderful and versatile talent.
I was not alone in my attentions. Casting agents were taking notice
at his immense abilties too. Sometimes talent is noticed
and this is one talented actor that is really getting some great
roles. The latest, Master and Commander:
Far Side of the World, is not my favorite film...but Bettany,
once again, is superb as the ship's doctor [and, again, Crowe's
Frankly, he's the most interesting part of the film - splendid
vessel details aside.
And he's married to that gorgeous Jennifer Connelly; they've had
a child and everything. But a gal can still notice that on top
of being immensely talented Paul is positively gorgeous. He even
comes with a frightfully charming near-Cockney accent. His animated
eyes dance wildly about like an animal that's been caught and
is biding its time before escape; amusing itself with the silly
human before him. Paul's a tiptop delectable bit of naughty manyum
- though an unobtainable happily married slice of mansteak to
Below is an interview he and I had for Gangster #1...he
had just started Master & Commander down in Mexico
at the time. Now he's much bigger and it's such a pleasant interview...I
thought I'd reissue it. Enjoy.
Gangster's a bastard. Who's tougher your Gangster fellow or Tony
[laughter] Honestly, I haven't seen "The Sopranos".
I saw one episode and it was brilliant. Now I have to start watching
it. When it came to England, I was away here making the movie.
And I don't watch television. Maybe the news or documentaries.
Not out of any grandeur I just don't have time.. But usually,
I just don't ever turn it on.
Me neither. No time. What do you do instead?
Masturbate wildly! [laughs] No- no, I play guitar and I read books.
.don't make me jump on you like a rabid Rhesus
monkey, you're married
.] What are you reading?
At the moment I am reading what is it bloody called again? Uh,
"The God of Small Things." And I'm rereading "Darkness
of Noon" because it's my favorite novel ever written. Then
I'm reading things I won't bore you with about Naval Surgery.
[I said being all girly girl] Navel surgery? Are you planning
on having this done? [kidding with him]
[he fell for it...he's really quite gullible] Not that navel!
"In the Navy"... Surgery in the Navy, I should clear
that up. Which is at best, really dull. But I'm reading lots about
That's for the Russell Crowe film right?
Yeah. I'm making this movie in Mexico with Russell Crowe and Peter
Weir. [Master and Commander]
In Gangster #1 you are playing the same character as Malcolm McDowell
at a younger age. Did you have to study him to incorporate that
into your performance?
Kind of. I mean, yes, I had seen his films. I'd seen If
and Clockwork Orange. If was one of my favorite
films, so I knew his work. He shot his stuff first, so I watched
him and we talked a bit about things we were gonna do for each
other - mannerisms and such, all of which ended up getting cut
out of the movie. Basically, you just try to get a sense of someone.
To be frank, the way that you are going to go just sort of opens
it self up and you go that way. I shouldn't be telling you that.
Everybody tells me it's the secret of acting and "don't tell
them it's easy." Don't let anyone know. But really it mostly
But it's easy for you because your bio says you come from generations
No. I don't know where that story came from. My Dad was an actor.
But when I was a kid he was a teacher. He has become an actor
Your grandmother was a singer right?
She was a singer - and a very good one, by all accounts.
So you don't feel like an actors son. A Barrymore-style bred actor?
I feel like the son of a teacher really.
You have been in two movies where you play basically likeable
characters. [should I tell him he owes me 8.50 for Knight's
Tale -though he was the only saving grace in the pitiful flick]
Are you excited now to be the bad guy?
I'm more likeable now. I made this movie four years ago, so I'm
just more likeable now. I was a bastard back then. [laughter]
I love the weird choices you've been making. All over the genres!
Acting is really dull if you just do the same thing all the time.
Frankly a monkey can behave naturally in front of a camera! So
it's nice to do different stuff. The shear facts that it gets
really boring if ya don't. So in actual fact I've sought out to
try and do different stuff
not to try and "stretch me"
or anything like that. Just because it's boring doing the same
Gangster #1 was made four years ago
.what was the hold-up?
The hold-up was the word [ he looks as if he is ashamed to say
it to me ] "c*nt". [defending his remark] It's non gender-specific
in England and I believe in Canada. It's only in America where
it is gender specific. Objects are "c*nts" in England.
I guarantee you it's just a punctuation mark. It's how people
speak. And it's how I speak if I'm in a pub and drunk. It how
people speak and I question the morality of the fact that it wouldn't
get released in this country because there is a scene where I
stab somebody in the neck with a corkscrew and I call him a "c*nt'.
And they didn't mind me stabbing him in the neck. But calling
him a "c*nt" while I did it was apparently crossing
the line. That was the hold up.
I know about the word not being "the same" here believe
me. What finally changed that?
I think a sort of more broadminded distribution company picked
Have you ever gotten yourself in trouble in a pub calling somebody
In this country, no. But "c*nt" also means "lovely".
Like, "Come here, you old c*nt..." you're drunk.
I know to look at me I look like a pituitary gland retard,
but I decided not to use the word here. But I got into loads of
trouble using it in my own country when I was young and ill advised.
[laughter - he's really genuinely funny] How so?
You know. Pub fights. Bar fights. But I don't do that sort
of thing anymore.
You and Russell Crowe must have had quite a bit to talk about
No. I never discussed fighting with Russell. We might sit
back and discuss Proust
and such Remembrance of Things Past and not drink. [laughter]
What about poor Russell Crowe? He gets a load of bad press. Fair?
[ I said purring softly as Mr. Bettany blushed at the controversal
I think he gets a load of... the thing about Russell is that Russell
speaks his mind. And that's really difficult to find in this industry.
I think it comes as a shock. But I love it. I think it is a virtue,
speaking your mind. I've never felt worried or intimidated by
him or seen anybody else feel worried or intimidated by him and
I've spent a lot of time with him. But if you took his honesty
away from him, he wouldn't be Russell.
Yeah he's blunt that's for sure.
Is it weird to have now become a guy that the gossip columns write
Yeah. It's absurd. Some of them are funny and laughable. And some
are really annoying.
Such as years ago in England, they put this picture of me and
my girlfriend in it naked. And it was from a film, but it looked
like they had taken a snapshot. And then it was just really complicated
and it ended up really destroying our relationship. So that's
kind of distressing because being in a nice relationship is nice
isn't it? You know what I mean?
What about with you and Jennifer [Connelly]? Has the press made
it more difficult for you guys to enjoy yourselves?
[ shy - grinning] It makes you feel murderous when you get followed
around by people with cameras and cars. Sort of horrible. And
I rang somebody up about it, and they said, "Well Paul, if
you don't want to get your photograph taken, don't go out."
I went, "Well what sort of life is that?" Know what
I can't even imagine. Why don't you show them a tape of Gangster#1
[thinking- laughing] Yeah! Great! Show 'em a tape of Gangster
Yeah but, it most be kind of flattering though, that so many people
want to know about you?
It sounds really naive of me, but it's nice in terms of the work's
great and it's nice to be congratulated on the work. I'm not gonna
lie too much. It's nice when people say, "That work is good".
But having people take pictures of you when you are at the beach
is just fucking annoying. That's annoying. You know what
So what is the title of this Russell Crowe/ Paul Bettany film
Far Side of the World. I think
EMILY: What's with the film Dead Babies?
[laughter] LONG may that never get anywhere
of ME liking it [laughter].
It's an amazing novel by a man called Martin Amos. It's a less
Well put. What about your other film due, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang?
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is film by just the most defying human
being in the world, Stellan Skarsgård, who's also in Dogville.
If ever he asked me to do anything again, even porn, I'll be in
if he's in it!
EMILY: You said the PR bios are incorrect. You don't come from
from actors. Okay, so how did you get started then? Was it one
movie that inspired you?
Yes,. Actually there's lot's of movies that I saw, like Casablanca
and my favorite film, great old films
. like my favorite
favorite film, which I am blushingly groping for
Encounter.Films like that. Basically I really wanted to be
a pop star and the thing of it is that I love writing songs and
I was a Busca which is someone who plays guitar on the street
for money and I realized really quickly when I stood in front
of an audience to play my songs I just shook and I just hated
it. I guess one of the prerequisites of being a pop star is that
you don't mind singing your own songs in front of other people.
Basically, I bless John Lennon every day for having written "Mother
You Had me, But I Never Had You". It's an extraordinary thing
to say. Very beautiful, simple; a great piece of poetry. But I
wouldn't want anybody to know that much about me. Do you know
what I mean? People that I absolutely have nothing... I don't
mind singing to people that I know, but I have no interest in
having an audience. So the good thing about acting is that you
can watch Gangster #1and you can think "He's an aggressive
little bastard" but you don't know
. or you can watch
Beautiful Mind and go "I bet he's that cocky and full
of himself?" but not actually know because I'm not being
myself now. You know what I mean?
How did you perfect that gangster strut? [ thought not spoken:
that sexy demeanor and pouty smirk?]
I wore women's underwear. [laughs]. I didn't know I had one [laughter]
It's probably an amalgamation of every film I've ever seen and
I probably just ripped off Malcolm. Listen, someone puts you in
an Oswald Botang suit - he makes beautiful suits, all those suits
are like 4000 pounds, which is like $6,000 a piece - and you can't
walk badly. It would be an insult-it's a helluva suit [laughter]
Did you get to keep them? [thought not spoken- "I'd love
to have ya model them
focus HE'S MARRIED]
[winking] They weren't gonna let me, but I stole them.
[laughter] I stole all three suits. I was playing a gangster.
I thought it's expected ya know [ laughter].
Your character doesn't speak much in Gangster#1. Do you feel it's
was easier or harder to convey character with less words?
It's brilliant! Actors usually say its so difficult
when you have no words and you have to communicate things through
it's absolutely untrue. I long for the days of
silent movies. It's just much easier. Leave all the talking up
to somebody else. It's one less thing to fuck up. It s the medium
of pictures isn't it?
Yeah. I know what you mean. Gangster's a pretty violent film.
Was it true to the original script?
Yes it was. And I am very proud of it. I think we all live
in a really violent world and films should reflect the world in
which we live. And if anybody doesn't think it's a violent world,
I suggest that they probably don't go out much and see that somebody
shot somebody at the counter at LAX or picked up a kid and bashed
them on the bonnet of the car... So
it's a violent world and I really don't understand the morality
in films of trying to make that palatable. It's just unacceptable!
We tried to make a completely palatable film and I think we succeeded!
People should leave the cinema being upset by it!
Bravo! An artist. A cute tall dreamy artist. Jenny's a lucky girl.
Keep your eyes peeled for Paul Bettany, his star has only begun
to rise. Paul's charming and talented a sexy combo of man spectacular!
Master And Commander
A Knight's Tale