News Column

Paul Bettany Interview: States OK, But Misses Curry

May 31, 2013

Susan Griffin

Paul Bettany wouldn't be the first actor to sound a note of bitterness about the current state of his profession. But unlike many of his contemporaries who seem content to soldier on, Bettany has taken action.

As Gandhi said, I've decided I'm going to be the change I want to see in the world, he says.

A big ask, I know, Bettany adds, laughing.

But I want to start writing, directing and making movies like John Cassavetes [the Rosemary's Baby actor who turned his hand to directing independent movies], who just did what he wanted to do, adds Bettany, 41, who's promoting the small indie film Blood.

A graduate of the Drama School in London, Bettany landed his first film role in 1997's Bent opposite Sir Ian McKellen before winning critical acclaim for his first lead in Gangster No 1.

He went on to star in A Knight's Tale with the late Heath Ledger, Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World with Russell Crowe and The Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks.

That's not to say there hasn't been the odd howler along the way. Not even Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp could save The Tourist.

But it's 2001's A Beautiful Mind that he gets wistfully about.

Not only did he meet his future wife, Jennifer Connelly, but the success of that movie marked an artistic heyday.

It grossed over $100 million at the cinema. That's not going to happen any more, says Bettany, who bemoans the commercially-driven movies that now dominate the cinematic landscape. This may be a tad hypocritical coming from the man who has voiced Jarvis (Iron Man's advanced computer) in all three of the movies starring Robert Downey Jr and The Avengers spin-off.

But blockbusters aren't where his heart lies. There is less and less interesting work out there, Bettany says, sighing. Look at The Godfather, which was the summer blockbuster [in 1972]. It would never happen in a million years any more.

The fact it's not [like] the 70s is really frustrating. However, even more frustrating is listening to myself moan about it.

And for that reason he's taken it upon himself to hunt out work that truly interests him - like Blood, a British psychological thriller about two detective brothers, Joe (Bettany) and Chrissie (Stephen Graham).

He likens the film to a mix of urban British thriller and Greek tragedy.

Although immediately taken with the script, the timing couldn't have been worse for Bettany.

Connelly, 42, had just given birth to their daughter Agnes, now 23 months, when the cameras started rolling on location on the Wirral peninsula just west of Liverpool.

Despite calling the States home for the last decade, Bettany admits there are aspects of his homeland he misses.

Curry appears to be top of the list. Curries are bad in New York. Even the best, poshest ones aren't the same as here.

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