The reason I haven’t updated the site’s following: As I mentioned before, I had serious problems with my laptop, which led into a major crash. Due this crash, I lost all data from my hard drive. Luckily most of it could be restored. But now there’s one hell of a chaos on my new laptop and it will take some time to sort all out. Don’t worry, you can expect regulary updates asap! ;)
He’s donning the green Lycra (probably, he’s not actually allowed to say) as the newest Avenger, The Vision, in Age of Ultron and has a starring role alongside Johnny Depp’s heavily tweaked Mortdecai mustache as his thuggish manservant Jock Strapp. But before these two rather cartoonish outings hit theaters, U.K. actor Paul Bettany will be offering Toronto audiences his somewhat less kitsch directorial debut, the gritty New York drama Shelter starring his wife, Jennifer Connelly.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Bettany about how he believes actors should be given more freedom and why all that glitters on the Marvel set probably is actual gold.
Where did the story for Shelter come from?
It began with this couple living outside my apartment in Tribeca. Every morning I’d say hello to them, but they never responded. Then Hurricane Sandy happened and we were evacuated, and I totally forgot about them. When we moved back about five months later, I didn’t see them again and began wondering what their life was like. At the time I was living in a hotel so just started writing.
Did you initially write Shelter for yourself to direct?
I actually began writing it for my wife, for two reasons, one noble and one totally ignoble. Noble in that there aren’t enough great parts for women, and ignoble because I knew that she would get the film financed. Plus she’s really, really good at acting. But yes, I did write it for myself to direct.
You’ve said that Shelter is your love story to the New York films of the 1970s. What do you mean by that?
The ’70s seemed to be awash with great performances, and I wondered why that was. My theory is that scripts [today] are developed to death, to the point where there’s no ambiguity. If the actor isn’t good enough the story will still work because everything that needs to be understood will be said in the dialogue. Well, A Woman Under the Influence just doesn’t work without Gena Rowlands showing up and being brilliant. Actors can be many things — self-serving egomaniacal prima donnas — but all of the really good ones are absolutely trustworthy storytellers. And I think leaving them something to do is important because that responsibility might be where that dynamism in American 1970s films came from. I can’t actually prove that, but I thought I’d give it a go.
Directing your other half for your directorial debut could be seen as a dangerous move. Was it?
I can see potential difficulties. But next to the risk of having chosen to spend our lives together, the risk of spending 21 days together and making a film together is actually miniscule in comparison. Jennifer gave me everything she had as an actress, and I did everything to protect her performance.
And if Jennifer decided to direct a film, would you star in it?
God no! Of course I would. But she’s incredibly fastidious. If she brought the same amount of fastidiousness as an actor, it would have to be an eight-month shoot. She’s just so committed. In this she plays a junkie on the street, and I lost her going to needle meetings. She’s now a card-carrying member of the New York City Needle Exchange.
Did going behind the camera change your attitude as an actor?
It’s the most tired I’ve ever been in my life! I now have so much respect for directors and will never ask a difficult question after sunset again. I think it’s something actors should do to see, “F—ing hell, that’s really hard!” You’re not just sitting in a chair passing judgment.
Do you have any other stories you want to direct?
I’ve written a comedy — a satire about something I really care about. So I’ll be looking to get that off the ground next. I think that there might be parts for Jennifer in it, and I think there’s a part for me. Although I might fire myself. Continue reading…
Jim Henson’s bizarro fantasy film “Labyrinth” came out when Jennifer Connelly was 16. The actress’ audition, likely from early 1985, has been on YouTube for a few years, but Vanity Fair dug it up over the weekend to remind us of a young Connelly’s third starring role, after “Phenomena” and “Seven Minutes in Heaven.” The clip is cute because you can see the actress converse with imaginary fairies, but it’s especially interesting because the final moments find Connelly discussing the character with Henson.
As noted in Henson’s “Red Book,” we now know that Connelly was up against the likes of Helena Bonham Carter, Jane Krakowski, Yasmine Bleeth, Sarah Jessica Parker, Marisa Tomei, Laura Dern and Ally Sheedy for the part. Maybe it was her inquisitive nature at the audition that won over the director. No matter. It brought her face to face with David Bowie, a.k.a. the crotchety Goblin King, and for that we are forever grateful.