Paul Bettany is a British actor best recognized for his voice roles as J.A.R.V.I.S. and the Vision in a number of movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including ‘Iron Man’, ‘The Avengers’, ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. Bettany first garnered public attention with his performance in the British movie ‘Gangster No. 1’. He then went on to act in a wide range of films, such as ‘A Beautiful Mind’, ‘Dogville’, ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’ and ‘Wimbledon’, to name a few. Born to parents who worked in the entertainment industry, he was exposed to the show business at an early age. The death of his younger brother when Paul was a teen deeply affected him. He dropped out of school, left his home, and went to live alone. He rented a small flat and earned money by performing on the streets as a busker. After several years of struggling, he finally managed to build a successful career as an actor. A number of his movies have been massive hits: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ grossed over US$2 billion at the box office while ‘The Avengers’ earned over US$1.5 billion. On a personal note, Bettany is married to popular American actress Jennifer Connelly, with whom he has two children.
Childhood & Early Life
Paul Bettany was born on 27 May 1971 in Shepherd's Bush, West London. His father Thane was an actor, drama teacher, and dancer, while his mother, Anne, served as a stage singer, stage manager, and theatre teacher.
Bettany was initially raised Roman Catholic. He also attended Methodist and Church of England congregations. However, he became an atheist later.
While his father taught at Queenswood School, an all-girls boarding school near Hatfield, Hertfordshire, Bettany, along with his family, lived on the campus.
When he was 16, he lost his eight-year-old brother Matthew in a freak accident. Deeply disturbed by his death, Bettany left his home, dropped out his school, and went on to live alone. He started living in a small flat and began performing on London streets.
His parents divorced eventually, which further affected Bettany emotionally. After working as a street performer for two years, Bettany found a job in a home for the elderly. He then went on to study at the Drama Centre in London.
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Paul Bettany made his stage debut in the West End revival of the play ‘An Inspector Calls’, playing the part of Eric Birling. During this time, he also performed in Royal Shakespeare Company's productions of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘Richard III,’ and ‘Julius Caesar.’
At the age of 21, he played Bill Sikes in a BBC production of ‘Oliver Twist.’ From 1994 to 1996, he played guest roles in the dramas ‘Wycliffe’ and ‘The Bill’. He appeared as Prince William of Orange in the English TV drama ‘Sharpe's Waterloo’ in 1997. The same year, he made his film debut in ‘Bent.’
He continued working on stage and acted in Joe Penhall's ‘Love and Understanding’. In 1998, he got featured in the television productions ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Killer Net’.
The actor’s last stage appearances were in the plays ‘Stranger's House’ and ‘One More Wasted Year,’ after which he focused on his film career. In 2000, Bettany had a lead role in the flick ‘Gangster No.1’. The same year, he played James Steerforth in the television movie ‘David Copperfield’.
In 2001, he was cast as Geoffrey Chaucer in the American medieval adventure-comedy flick ‘A Knight's Tale’. He also played Charles Herman in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ that year.
The British actor played Rickie in the movie ‘The Heart of Me’ in 2002. Then in 2003, he got featured in the films ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’, ‘Dogville’ and ‘The Reckoning’.
He played the male lead in the romantic comedy ‘Wimbledon’ alongside Kirsten Dunst in 2004. In 2006, his thriller movie ‘Firewall’ was released. The same year, the actor was seen performing in ‘The Da Vinci Code’, a flick based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel.
In 2008, Paul Bettany portrayed important roles in the films ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ and ‘Inkheart’. In the year 2009, he played Charles Darwin in the movie ‘Creation’, starring opposite wife Jennifer Connelly.
He appeared alongside superstars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in ‘The Tourist’ in 2010 and also played Michael in ‘Legion’ the same year. Both the films were moderate hits.
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The British star next appeared in ‘Margin Call’ and ‘Priest’, both of which were released in 2011. He then acted in the thriller film ‘Blood’ as Joe Fairburn.
He starred alongside Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall in the feature film ‘Transcendence’ in 2014. That year, he also made his directorial debut with ‘Shelter’, an American drama flick featuring Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Mackie, Rob Morgan, Bruce Altman and Amy Hargreaves.
Bettany next played Jock Strapp in the comedy film ‘Mortdecai’ in 2015. That year, he also starred as Charlie Richardson in ‘Legend,’ a motion picture also featuring Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow.
In the year 2017, he had a role in the movie ‘Journey's End’. The same year, he also joined the cast of the Discovery Channel’s ‘Manhunt: Unabomber’ as Ted Kaczynski. In 2018, the actor replaced Michael K. Williams in the film ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ after Williams was unable to return to the sets during the movie’s reshoots.
In 2008, Paul Bettany was cast in the voice role of J.A.R.V.I.S. in the American superhero film ‘Iron Man’, the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Jon Favreau, the movie also starred Robert Downey, Jr., Terrence Howard, Shaun Toub, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The film ‘Iron Man’ was selected as one of the ten best movies of the year by The American Film Institute. It was also nominated for two Academy Awards. Bettany’s performance was appreciated and he went on to reprise his voice role in the films’ sequels ‘Iron Man 2’ and ‘Iron Man 3’ that were released in 2010 and 2013 respectively.
Bettany also lent his voice to the character of J.A.R.V.I.S. in the film ‘The Avengers’. He played the Vision in the film’s sequel ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ (2015) and also reprised his role as J.A.R.V.I.S. in the same flick. The actor portrayed the Vision again in the film’s sequels ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Captain America: Civil War’.
He had dated actress Emily Mortimer in the past.
On 1 January 2003, he married American actress Jennifer Connelly who was his childhood crush. The duo met during the filming of ‘A Beautiful Mind.’ However, during that time, both were in other relationships and so didn’t date each other until they ended their previous relationships.
He and Connelly have two children, daughter Agnes and son Stellan. Connelly also has a son from a previous relationship.
Bettany is an atheist. He believes that being an atheist doesn’t make him immoral.
Bettany named his son Stellan after his co-actor Stellan Skarsgård. The two actors had worked together in the movies ‘Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang),’ ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ and ‘Dogville.’
The actor had to wear a wig for his film ‘The Da Vinci Code’ because, when he bleached his hair for the film, the process burned bleeding holes in his head.
He and his wife read to their kids every night. According to them, reading is an important part of childhood.
In 2005, the actor gave up smoking when he saw his two-year-old son imitating him with a pen.