Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Paul Bettany: "I'm done being a gun for hire"

paul bettany.jpg

He lives in New York and is married to an A-list US actress (Jennifer Connelly), but you can’t accuse Paul Bettany of forgetting his roots. Having plied his trade in such box office-bothering Hollywood mega-hits as A Knight’s Tale, Master And Commander and The Da Vinci Code, the 42-year-old is now heading up Blood – a low-budget British indie in which he plays a policeman investigating a spectacularly grim murder case.

First things first: Blood has a pretty great cast…

Yeah, the quality of actors in this film in incredible: Brian Cox, Stephen Graham, Mark Strong… There was nobody making this film for anywhere near what they’d normally get paid. Actually, Brian Cox nearly slipped out of the film because of scheduling issues, and I was on bended knees begging him to do it. [For his character] we needed someone with a latent violence about them, and Cox definitely had that [laughs]. Mark Strong’s great too. The really irritating thing about him is that he’s both an amazing actor and the nicest human being you will ever meet. He’s so much nicer than me, I find it exhausting [laughs].

Did you speak to any real policemen to prepare?

We f*cking tried, but Nick [Murphy, the director] wouldn’t let us [laughs]. Something we all said on set was that we wanted to get away from that ‘gritty British police’ thing, which left us [the actors] a lot of space to do imaginative work. Like, if the person who’s directing the film categorically says, “I will do everything in my power to stop you talking to real policemen because I’m not interested in the presentation of a ‘real’ policeman”, it gives you more time to concentrate on the actual vision of the man you’re playing, rather than just his job. I could look at my character, work out the things I had in common with him and try to cling to them. We were very dissimilar in many ways; I don’t know what it feels like to kill a man, for instance. Which is good for you because we’re alone in this room together.

Yes, that’s reassuring. Cheers. Is it true you and Stephen Graham lived together during filming?

Yeah, for six weeks. Not just me and him – it was me, him and my driver, Alan. I’ve had the same driver for 10 years and they could only afford to put him up in some sh*tty hotel, so since I was living in this huge place, I asked Alan in.

Living together must have helped, as you and Stephen play brothers in the film…

Well, yeah – the thinking was there couldn’t be two people who look more dissimilar than me and Stevie Graham, so what are we going to do about it? Since looks are much less important than having the right actors, what we did about it was to move in together and try to create a brotherly relationship. It was my idea, actually.

How did that work out, then?

Well, there’s me doing all the f*cking cooking every night, while Stevie and Alan are just on the PlayStation, playing Fifa. They’d pause it and be like, “Do you want to play, Paul?” I’m like, “No, I don’t want to play, because I’m f*cking 40 years old” [laughs]. I’m cooking them a meal and it’s like they’re f*cking eight or something.

You made your name in big Hollywood films, but you’ve also starred in lower-budget indie projects such as Blood and Margin Call. Which do you prefer?

Well, Margin Call was f*cking nuts. We shot that in 17 days [laughs]. None of the actors had trailers or anything. To be honest, I’ve made a decision about the sort of work I want to do now. I’m done being a gun for hire; I can’t do it any more. So, whatever it is I do, it has to at least have the potential to be good.

Blood is at cinemas from 31 May and on DVD from 10 June

(Image: Rex Features)

Related

christoph waltz.jpg

Christoph Waltz

james mcavoy.jpg

James McAvoy

PAUL_BETTANY_SSZ103066.jpg

Paul Bettany

Comments

More

The trailer for the new Mummy is here

Can Tom Cruise outact Brendan Fraser?

by Emily Badiozzaman
05 Dec 2016

Why Rocky is the most important film about masculinity ever made

As the film turns 40, here's why the boxing saga is so much more than an underdog story

by Tom Fordy
01 Dec 2016

We asked men to tell us which movies make them cry

...and then we definitively ranked their pain

by Sam Diss
30 Nov 2016

Watch newly released trailer for Star Wars: Rogue One

by Joe Ellison
28 Nov 2016

Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield spent a week in silence in Wales

Solid dedication to a film's title

by Emily Badiozzaman
25 Nov 2016

Watch boxing drama Bleed For This for FREE with ShortList Film Club

Another, erm, knockout offer from our Film Club

by Tom Fordy
23 Nov 2016

Danny Boyle tells us what to expect from Trainspotting 2

Danny Boyle on why he’s brought back four icons for T2: Trainspotting

23 Nov 2016

Watch the trailer for Martin Scorsese's epic 'Silence'

30 years in the making: here's your first look

by Dave Fawbert
23 Nov 2016

Watch the full trailer for Netflix's Barack Obama biopic

From Beta House to The White House

by Joe Ellison
22 Nov 2016

20 best thrillers to watch on Netflix

How many of these nerve-janglers have you seen?

by Tom Fordy
18 Nov 2016