To say Paul Bettany is having a great year would be an understatement.
Part of the Marvel Universe as “Vision”, a recurring role most recently featured in Avengers: Infinity War, Bettany is one of the hottest actors in Hollywood right now. As if being part of that family wasn’t enough, he has now crossed over and joined what might be considered an even bigger universe – Star Wars.
Paul Bettany. Star Wars. Get ready – this is going to be good.
I had the chance to sit down with Paul Bettany to talk about it all – from Marvel superhero to Star Wars villain.
(Disney invited me to California on an all-expenses paid trip, in exchange for our coverage of events. As always, all opinions are my own.)
Paul Bettany – Superhero to Star Wars Villain
Though I’ve seen the movie twice already, I certainly want you to form your own opinions about this Star Wars villain. But villain he is, there is no doubt.
For now I’ll leave him shrouded in a bit of mystery, so you can watch the movie just as I had. That said, our interview showcased so many fun facts about how Bettany got the part in SOLO (BEGGING – really!), his parenting style, and more, that you must read. No worries – no spoilers here folks.
Dryden Vos: All CG Makeup
One thing that surprised us all was that the makeup application did not exist. It was all CG. From skin to eyes (wait ’til you see his eyes up close in the film), I was impressed.
A “Begging” Text Got Him the Part in SOLO
Paul Bettany was a little embarassed to admit this, but he shared nonetheless.
Star Wars meant a lot to him. It was a movie that really took him to another world, another place, when he was stuck in London during the 1970s, a time Bettany describes as miserable and depressed.
He knew he would never be a part of Star Wars, because he’s an Avenger. Unless Ron Howard became involved, a director who Bettany shares is about as close as family as you can get in this business.
Well, the stars aligned for the next Star Wars epic film, and when they did (and Ron Howard became the director), Paul Bettany took a shot at it.
The Text: “Hey, Ron, have you ever spent long winter evenings, like I have wondering why you’re not in the Star Wars franchise?”
Two weeks later Bettany was flying to London for SOLO: A Star Wars Story. Unbelievable!
There’s a lesson here and you’ve got to read Ron Howard’s account of this in my Ron Howard SOLO interview!
Disbelief He was Part of Star Wars
Though he was already an Avenger (and I’m sure had pinch me moments with that role of a lifetime too), Paul Bettany certainly had some moments of disbelief.
You can just feel his excitement, so in his own words, he shared…
There were many moments where I went, oh, my gosh, I’m in a Star Wars movie. And I think because Ron and I were newcomers on the block as it were. Everyone else had been in there for eight months or whatever. And we were still totally un-jaded by it. And I kept elbowing him and saying, we’re making a Star Wars movie. We’re making a Star Wars movie.
My first day in fact, was I was on my starship. I have a starship and I was coming down the spiral staircase with a super chic asymmetric cloak I think you probably all noticed. And an R2 unit went by me with champagne flutes on and I went, F___, I’m in Star Wars. And that was amazing!
I can only imagine.
How His Star Wars Villain is Different
Bettany wanted his character, Dryden Vos, to be a looser Star Wars villain. SOLO is an offshoot film in the franchise, not encumbered with the same set of responsibilities, something that Bettany admits allowed him to have a more playful tone.
A playful tone with a Star Wars villain? Yes, one that you’ll have to see firsthand to appreciate.
Bettany describes Dryden Vos as an entrepreneur, one who knows who he is and is happy about it.
Not Hard At All – Going from SuperHero to Star Wars Villain
We all love him as Vision, one of the good guys, so would Paul Bettany be believable as Dryden Vos? Oh yes, don’t you worry about that. As Bettany described his character, he shared, “some people are just gifted at torture and murder”.
Was it difficult for him to go from good guy to bad guy? Unequivocally no, not hard at all because he knew Vision so well.
He enjoyed playing the bad guy, sharing that it’s “really fun to play because you’re just able to sort of close down all the conscious stuff”.
Torture? Murder? Don’t worry…I’ve shared what you as parents want to know in this No-Spoiler SOLO Movie Review.
Bettany did share that though Ron Howard wanted him for SOLO right away, he did have to get the blessing of Kathleen Kennedy and Kevin Feige for the “cross-pollination” of characters.
On Director Ron Howard
It’s clear from how Bettany got his role, that he and Ron Howard were not only colleagues, but friends. The respect there is mutual.
Bettany shared that Howard as a director is so “amazingly inclusive and genuinely interested in everybody’s opinions about how things should be. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have his own vision. He’s just so confident that he is able to be really open and collaborative. And, you know, I think that’s a sign of a really strong leader is when they’re listening”.
Bettany’s Parenting Style
You may see him on the big screen and you may spy him with his celebrity co-stars, but it took only one conversation with Paul Bettany to really uncover who he is as a person.
The topic – his children.
It wasn’t any profession of love, or how excited his kids were when he was able to take them to the set of SOLO. It was talking about the larger, big-picture issues that as parents we all struggle with. It was here that I connected with this A-list celebrity.
You see, more than anything, Paul Bettany wants to raise children who are prepared for life in a way that he wasn’t, and who will give back in appreciation for all they have received in life. Admirable. A tough challenge for all of us as parents, but you can tell, it’s a priority for him.
And these aren’t just words. Paul Bettany puts this into action. From simple demands (limited time on devices) to more important requests (at restaurants they have to ask questions and be engaged with other people). Oh, and did I mention they intentionally fly coach?
The results? Bettany’s children are now 20 and 14 years old. So far, he has noticed they have a certain confidence that Bettany was lacking growing up.
Raising children who have been given much in life has it’s difficulties, but how Bettany and his wife are dealing with it is says so much about their character.
Meeting Paul Bettany was a thrill – a Hollywood actor who is a real gentleman and has his priorities straight.
Paul Bettany – Star Wars villain. Go see it in theatres this week!
About SOLO: A Star Wars Story
Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Paul Bettany.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY opens in theatres May 25th.
Take a look…
Alden Ehrenreich Interview:
Ready my exclusive Alden Ehrenreich Interview – Han Solo!
Check out my recap of the SOLO premiere – the celebrities, the after-party, and the Millenium Falcon details!
Now for some extra Star Wars fun…
EXTRA FUN: Get in the Star Wars mood by creating these incredible Star Wars Themed OREO Cookie Balls