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By Desirée O/Jan. 15, 2021 12:37 pm EST
Paul Bettany may not be the biggest star in the entertainment industry or have the most recognizable name in show business, however, you've probably seen at least one of his films. Frankly, there's a very good chance that you've seen him in plenty of popular movies over the years thanks to the fact that he's worked steadily and shown up in various films and series since the mid-90s.
While Bettany may have "made his name in smaller roles and quieter films," according to GQ, things have really taken off for the actor. Between his somewhat accidental turn as "Dryden Vos, the main antagonist in Solo: A Star Wars Story" and starring role as Vision in Marvel's Avengers films and the Disney+ series WandaVision, the stalwart actor has managed to break into two of the biggest film franchises of all time.
But surely there's more to Bettany than lightsabers and infinity stones. Indeed, GQ also pointed out that "in person, Bettany is thoughtful and forthright, alternating between statue-still, sphynx-like observations from behind tinted glasses and leaning-forward non-negotiable philosophies." Indeed, while chatting with Esquire Singapore at the beginning of 2021, he dove head-first into a political discussion and acknowledged to the person interviewing him, "I mean, this isn't the conversation you were probably expecting." That kind of arguably unexpected yet honest nature surely comes from — and has resulted in — the following untold truths about the star.
A family of performers
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Paul Bettany has come a long way since he was born in London, England's Harlesden district on May 27, 1971, according to Britannica. Granted, while he may have come from the U.K., in a way, he didn't veer very far from his roots. That's because his mom, Anne Kettle, was also an actor. Although she "worked mostly on the stage in musical theatre," per IMDb, she also landed a role in 1963's Gutter Girls as well as a gig on the show Katy a year earlier.
While the WandaVision star surely inherited some acting skills from his mother, it turns out that she may have gotten her talent from her own parents. Bettany's own IMDb page notes that his "maternal grandmother, Olga Gwynne" — which was "her maiden and stage name" — "was a successful actress, while his "maternal grandfather, Lesley Kettle, was a musician and promoter."
As for Bettany himself, he didn't take a direct route to Hollywood. According to The Sun, "Paul quit school at 16 and left home," which is when he went to work performing "as a street busker" for a time. Although that might not seem like a surefire way to find success, plenty of other talented folks who eventually found fame and fortune have been buskers as well, including Ed Sheeran, the late Robin Williams, and even Pierce Brosnan (via Heart). As for Bettany, he eventually left busking behind to "[join] a London drama school at 19" and continued on his career path.
Paul Bettany's father came out of the closet in his 60s
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Just like Paul Bettany's mother and grandparents, his father, Thane Bettany, was a performer. However, he wasn't an actor but was instead a ballet dancer who went on to become a teacher. Yet, when Paul has opened up about his dad in the past, he's talked about a different aspect of his father's life. "Thane ... came out in his 60s, and went on to live happily in rural Fife with his partner...," reported the Daily Mail. Paul explained to Total Film (via Out) that after seemingly accepting his sexual orientation, his father "then had a 20-year relationship with a man called Andy Clark. It was a joyous relief for everybody, actually."
However, Thane experienced a personal struggle regarding his faith and who he was following Andy's death. "He was in his 80s at this point," Paul noted, while saying that it was then that his "dad decided to go back inside the closet and say that it had all been a big misunderstanding..." Apparently, he did so "because he was a Catholic and concerned about getting past Peter through the pearly gates." His son explained, "The shame he felt for his sexual identity was devastating. He was unable to mourn the person who [his son thinks] was the love of his life."
Sadly, Thane died in 2015, hopefully having in some way accepted who he was and that his love for his partner had been a wonderful thing.
The death of Paul Bettany's brother 'ripped [his] family apart'
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While growing up, Paul Bettany "was close" to his sister, Sarah, and his brother, Matthew, who was eight years younger. However, Bettany "was left devastated when his little brother fell from the roof of a sports hall on the school complex and died," according to The Sun. At the time of the tragedy, Bettany was just 16 years old.
Opening up to The Guardian about the devastating loss, Bettany said it "blew the family apart" and "colored everything." He added, "That was the end of family life from that point, as often happens in families where there's a death of a child. ... Life was never the same again." As for how he personally handled the loss, he admitted, "I was missing the person who at the time was the most important person to me. I was very close to my brother. It was hideous in all shades of hideousness."
The grief that came following the death of Bettany's brother "led him to turn to drink and drugs," per The Sun. "(It was) manic. I don't know if I was aware I was numbing myself at the time," he told The Times. He also added, "I don't think (there was anger). It was nobody's fault." While there was no one (and no need) to blame, that obviously didn't make the loss any easier.
The unusual courtship of Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly
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A young Paul Bettany had a childhood crush on Jennifer Connelly thanks to her own youthful performance in Labyrinth. When they eventually worked together on A Beautiful Mind, Bettany was instantly smitten. "I've never been this close to somebody that beautiful before," he recalled to Entertainment Tonight.
However, the two were both in relationships with other people. "Clearly we noticed each other and clearly we liked each other," Connelly shared to The Guardian, adding, "But I have very strong feelings about things that are right and things that aren't and that was all very clear."
Things changed when 9/11 happened. "Like so many people's lives in that moment, mine was changed forever," Bettany told Larry King in 2015. Apparently, his first instinct when he found out what had happened was to reach out to Connelly. '"I ran back to this house and ... spent two days trying to call this woman that I sort of barely knew. I remember very clearly thinking to myself, 'What are you doing?'" He explained that he then "realized [he] was in love." When he finally got a hold of Connelly, he didn't hold back. "[I] said, 'I'm coming over, let's get married.' ... We had never dated." They did get married in 2003 and now have two kids together, Stellan and Agnes Lark, as well as a son, Kai, from Connelly's previous relationship.
An atheist who would like to have faith
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Paul Bettany has played multiple religious roles, including portraying a priest who gets caught up in a murder mystery in 2002's The Reckoning, as well as a religious killer in 2006's Da Vinci Code. The actor has also taken on the role of the fallen archangel Michael in 2010's Legion, and popped up as a vampire-battling holy man in the aptly titled Priest, which came out in 2011. With so many spiritually-focused gigs on his resumé, it might surprise his fans to find out that Bettany is an atheist. "I don't know why these fellows keep coming my way. It isn't in any way planned," he told The Oklahoman.
Bettany discussed his secular leaning while talking to New York Magazine in 2009, saying, "I wish I did have faith. I think it would make life so much easier." He also explained, "I just have not discovered God in my life. I mean, I don't see him. It's not that I'm closed off to the argument, but I do feel the burden of proof."
The actor also recalled a trip that had the potential to provide that very proof. "I went to the Creation Museum in Kentucky in a fit of openness, thinking, God, I should really see the other side," he said. However, the museum apparently failed to offer the kind of evidence that may have led Bettany to change his mind. Instead, he claimed, "It's bananas!"
Paul Bettany is dyslexic
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Did you know that Jennifer Aniston deals with dyslexia? Indeed, she does, according to Web MD, as does actor Henry Winkler, director Steven Spielberg, and entrepreneur Richard Branson. Paul Bettany is also among the group of stars who have dyslexia, which the Mayo Clinic explains "is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding)."
Not only was Bettany "bullied at school" over the condition, according to the Daily Mail, but he's also endured some career difficulty as a result of it — namely, when trying to navigate the super-secretive script for the Avengers: Infinity War movie.
The WandaVision star explained during Comic-Con in 2018 (via MTV), "Now, I'm dyslexic so it takes me like five hours to read [a script]." After he had accidentally been given a decoy script to review, he was given a second he was also supposed to dive into. However, there was apparently a mix-up regarding which scripts were real and which contained things that weren't meant to end up in the final cut of the film, in order to throw would-be spoilers. An exasperated Bettany then decided that "after ten hours given over to reading scripts that I was never going to make," he would take a more straightforward approach and simply asked the directors, "[W]hat happens at the end of this one?"
A real-life royal connection
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Fans of Netflix's popular series The Crown may be aware of the fact that Paul Bettany might have taken on the role of a royal onscreen when he was in talks "to play Prince Philip" in the third season of the show which follows the British family throughout the years, according to Deadline. While that opportunity didn't end up panning out for the star, he does have his own real-life royal connection. In fact, he's practically (kind of, in a way) related to the Queen of England.
It turns out that Bettany's father, Thane, was godfather to Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones, who became the Countess of Wessex after she married Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. Edward is the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and, as of writing, is 11th in the line of succession to the throne.
As explained by The Scotsman, Thane's family became acquainted with "the Rhys-Joneses when both families lived in Northern Borneo." Thane's "widowed father married Pat Rhys-Jones and he became step-brother to Chris, Sophie's father." Speaking with the same outlet, Thane said, "To cement things really, I was asked to be her godfather, never dreaming when I was holding her at the font that one day I would be at Windsor seeing her marry into Royalty." Adding that his attendance to Sophie's 1999 wedding "was by royal command," he also noted that "if something had happened to Chris that day, I would have been going down the aisle with her."
Money-making movies have led to an impressive fortune
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Not only has Paul Bettany's film career established him as a reliable screen veteran, it's also made studios a lot of money. Forbes reported in 2014 that just three of his projects, The Da Vinci Code, A Beautiful Mind, and Master and Commander: The Far Side Of the World, brought in a total of "more than $1.2 billion in [the] global box office." As for the "Iron Man and Avengers films," they earned "nearly $4 billion [at the] worldwide box office."
At the same time, the WandaVision star has also managed to earn quite a bit of money for himself over the years. Granted, Bettany did admit during an interview with BBC Radio 1 that just before he landed his Marvel role, "I had just had a meeting with a producer, who will remain nameless, who told me that my career was over. He said 'You're done, you're done in this town.'"
Thankfully for Bettany, that wasn't true and he has been able to continue to bring in likely lucrative paychecks. That's why, while some Marvel stars may not make as much as fans think, Bettany may have more than people expect thanks to the fact that his fortune sits at $50 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. While that's a far cry from the kind of money that Tony Stark has laying around, it's still pretty darn impressive.
Paul Bettany's pricey real estate
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Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly were once owners of a penthouse in Manhattan, but sold it "for about $9 million," according to Mansion Global. However, they apparently still wanted a home in the general New York City area and in 2018, bought "the most expensive Brooklyn townhouse ever," as Apartment Therapy deemed it. And they weren't kidding, noting that "at $15.5 million," the purchase of the "8,000 square foot townhouse in Brooklyn Heights from a Goldman Sachs executive ... represent[ed] one of the most expensive to ever transpire in Brooklyn."
While Mansion Global noted the property's impressive views of "the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline," the Corcoran listing revealed what a ... vision (sorry, we had to) the abode really is. The "truly magnificent home [was] designed for comfort and luxury," noted the outlet, adding that it features "an elegant English garden, plus 2-3 other terraces on the river," while a "formal parlor floor has an astounding living room with floor-to-ceiling windows leading to a custom-designed wrought-iron terrace and one of the finest formal dining rooms." There's also a family room, fitness room, a "superb eat-in kitchen leading to the wonderful garden," as well as "a spectacular media room with skylight" on the top floor. There also happens to be "a well-designed period elevator," as well as "imported marble mantles, plaster mouldings, and custom woodwork and flooring."
This star wants to be a hero both on and off-screen
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For Paul Bettany, the work isn't done when filming has wrapped up for the day. That's because the star dedicates part of his time to supporting worthy causes. For instance, he joined the NYC March for Gender Equality in 2015. "Here, in the US, over 80 per cent of girls in the eighth through 11th grades will experience sexual violence," he said at the time, according to UN News. "That's a statistic I can understand because I have a daughter and I can imagine what will likely befall eight out of 10 girls in her class. And that is abhorrent, it's unacceptable and it must end."
Bettany has also worked with UNIFEM, per Look to the Stars, and Hero Acts, "a charity initiative that Marvel Studios and Disney started in late 2016," according to Marvel Studios News. The endeavor saw Marvel stars "team up for a series of hero acts and social media challenges to provide funds and raise awareness for charities that support children and families impacted by serious illness."
Beyond that, Bettany also uses his own social media accounts to focus on worthy causes, such as bringing attention to imprisoned activists as well as to encourage people to vote. Considering he has over a million followers on Instagram alone, as of this writing, it seems clear that like many other stars, he is willing to use his fame and influence to help make the world a better place.
Paul Bettany defended Johnny Depp
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When Johnny Depp was accused of being abusive towards his now-ex Amber Heard, his seriously disturbing texts to his fellow star and friend Paul Bettany ended up being brought up and presented in court. Bettany allegedly sent equally violent texts to Depp, which you can find at the Free Press Journal. Warning: They are very upsetting.
On top of that, Bettany also defended Depp, tweeting, "[I've] known Johnny Depp for years and through several relationships. He's the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man that I've ever known. Just saying." He followed that up with another tweet, writing, "All I'm saying — Domestic violence is a serious allegation. Trial by Twitter is unhelpful. Let the facts come out before rushing to judgment." While some of Bettany's followers felt like he had a point, many others weren't convinced at all by the fact that he was willing to back Depp up based on his own interactions with the other star.
Questioned about the texts in court, Depp didn't offer much of an explanation or apology other than to say that Bettany and Heard weren't fond of each other. Bettany, as of this writing, has not spoken out about the texts. It should be noted, however, that his alleged involvement in the dialogue is arguably at odds with the fact that he has supported the NYC March for Gender Equality while also acknowledging the terrifying and devastating statistics regarding violence towards women.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. You can also find more information, resources, and support at www.thehotline.org.