Paul Bettany is a British actor known for films like ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ ‘Wimbledon,’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ He is also famous for voicing J.A.R.V.I.S. and for playing Vision in the ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Avengers’ film franchises.
Who Is Paul Bettany?
Born in 1971, Paul Bettany is a British actor who made a splash in the industry starting with the British crime drama Gangster. No. 1 in 2000 and shortly after, A Knight's Tale (2001). Often playing a wide-range of character roles, Bettany has starred in other high-profile films such as A Beautiful Mind (2001), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) and the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code (2006). More recently, he's contributed both behind and in front of the cameras in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He's famous for being the voice behind J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man film franchise, as well as starring as the comic book superhero Vision in the Avengers film franchise. Bettany is married to Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly and is the father of their two children.
Bettany met his wife-to-be Jennifer Connelly on the set of A Beautiful Mind in 2001, but it was some time later that they began dating. After a whirlwind courtship, the couple married in January 2003 in Scotland.
"We got married quickly because I thought I had sort of a three-to-six month period before she sees through the accent," Bettany jokingly told morning talk show host Kelly Ripa during a television interview.
Bettany and Connelly have two children together: Stellan (b. 2003) and Agnes Lark (b. 2011). Connelly has a son, Kai (b. 1997), from a previous relationship.
After studying at the British drama school, Drama Centre London, Bettany appeared in various theatrical productions, including some from the Royal Shakespeare Company, and at 21, starred as Bill Sikes in BBC's Oliver Twist.
His first film was the Holocaust drama Bent (1997), in which he had a small part and also starred the likes of Ian McKellen and Jude Law, but it was his starring role in the British crime drama Gangster No. 1 in 2000 that brought him attention. Shortly after, he would be cast in A Knight's Tale (2001), playing English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, opposite Heath Ledger. Critics applauded his performance and so did A Knight's Tale director Brian Helgeland, who sent Ron Howard Bettany's audition tape to consider. Howard was impressed as well and cast the actor as lit student Charles Herman in his film, A Beautiful Mind (2001), a biopic of mathematician John Nash. The film starred Russell Crowe as Nash and also starred Bettany's future wife, Jennifer Connelly as Nash's wife, Alicia.
From there Bettany starred in Lars von Trier's Dogville (2003) and once again teamed up with Russell Crowe for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), playing the role of surgeon Stephen Maturin, for which he received praise and accolades.
In 2004 Bettany returned to leading man status, this time in a tennis rom-com with Kirsten Dunst called Wimbledon. The film received mixed reviews, although critics positively singled out Bettany's performance.
Other films Bettany appeared in include: The Da Vinci Code (2005), Firewall (2006), Creation (2009), The Tourist (2010), Legion (2010), Priest (2011) and Margin Call (2011).
Playing Vision in the 'Avengers' Films
Among the many films Bettany has starred in, his most successful project commercially has been voicing the Stark family's A.I. butler, J.A.R.V.I.S., starting in 2008's Iron Man and reprising the role in Iron Man 2 (2012) and Iron Man 3 (2013), as well as in the Avengers (2013) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Adding to his Marvel Universe work, he also plays android superhero Vision, in the Avengers and Captain America films.
Discussing his character Vision and his romantic interest in Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen, Bettany told Slash Film: "I think that Vision’s been on this quest to understand what being human is, and I think Scarlet Witch [has] in a large degree helped him figure that out and what love is."
In 2018 Bettany added sci-fi to his film credits in a big way by appearing as crime lord Dryden Vos in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
In 2014 Bettany extended his talents to writing and directing with the drama Shelter (2014), which starred his wife, Jennifer Connelly, playing a homeless drug addict who befriends another homeless individual — an undocumented Nigerian immigrant, played by Anthony Mackie.
"I didn't want to make a film about homelessness,” Bettany told the Independent of his directorial debut. “I wanted it to be about judgment.”
Paul Bettany was born on May 27, 1971 in west London to two creative parents heavily involved in the performing arts. He grew up with two siblings: a sister and a younger brother who died at age 8 from an accidental fall.
"I was very merged with my brother," Bettany admitted to the Guardian about that point in his life. "It was a mixture of the loss of someone you love deeply coupled with a time when you're sort of – 16, 17 – narcissistically confident about yourself, thinking life is eternal, and the fragility of it being revealed was awful. Quite apart from my own loss. I loved him so much. The awareness of how precarious our position is. And an alienation of how I felt with other people my age. I felt I was harboring a huge secret about what actually happens. Up until then life had seemed exciting and endless."
Bettany dropped out of school at 16 and busked on the streets of London to make ends meet.
"I had no thought of the future at all. No plan," he said. "I suppose now, when I think back to it, I was in a depressed state. But it didn't seem like depression because I didn't feel much."
Although it took a few years, Bettany got into a healthier frame of mind and along with the support of his father, enrolled in drama school.