One project can make all the difference in an actor’s career. Whether it’s Harrison Ford getting his big break in ‘Star Wars’ or John Travolta getting a second wind in the wake of ‘Pulp Fiction’, the right movie at the right time can work wonders. Just ask Paul Bettany.
Bettany has been a steady presence on the silver screen for much of the last twenty years. Not only has he starred in enduring favorites like ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and ‘Master and Commander’, but he had the good fortune of getting in on the ground floor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he provided the voice of JARVIS in 2008’s ‘Iron Man’. But despite that, there was a time not so long ago when his career seemed poised to take a vastly different path. And as Bettany explained at Ace Comic Con, it was one film, and perhaps more importantly, one director, that made all the difference:
“I had just got done with a meeting with a producer who told me my career was over. That it was done, and that I should pack my bags and go home. And I kind of stood up to him and I said, “Listen, you know, in this town actors have second and third acts, and you should mind your fucking manners.” And I walk out and then my legs give way, because I think maybe my career’s over. Then I sit down on the sidewalk on sunset and I went, “Wow, maybe my career’s over.” My phone rang; I answered it, and it was a number I didn’t recognize. I went “Hello.” [He said] “It’s Joss Whedon.” I went, “Oh hi Joss.” He says, “You want to play the Vision in ‘The Avengers’?” I went, “Yes I do, thank you very much.””
So you could say the Avengers saved the day. No sooner did Bettany graduate from voice work to a physical presence in the Marvel films did his seeming shaky career prospects begin to turn around. Since first bringing Vision to life for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron‘ in 2015, Bettany has been noticeably busier, appearing in no less than two tentpole blockbusters this summer alone.
Paul Bettany most recently appeared in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story‘, both of which are now playing in theaters. He will be seen next in ‘Avengers 4’, which is due for release on May 3, 2019.