Paul Bettany on the Vision: 'Super powerful and totally naive'
Actor Paul Bettany gives a behind-the-scenes look at his artificial intelligence character, Vision
Paul Bettany holds the distinction of being the only actor who's played two different characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
He voiced J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr) highly advanced artificial intelligence in all the Iron Man movies, as well as in 2015's Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
The 44-year-old English actor also appeared as Vision, a powerful synthetic born from a Vibranium-laced body created by Ultron but re-purposed and reprogrammed by Stark using J.A.R.V.I.S.-based codes.
He ultimately ends up an Avenger and is back in Captain America: Civil War, on Team Iron Man.
Bettany was famously told by a producer that his Hollywood career was over minutes before landing the role of Vision.
He had walked out of the meeting, sat down on the sidewalk with his feet in the gutter trying to process the rejection, when the phone rang.
It was Age Of Ultron writer-director Joss Whedon offering him the part, and his career was back on track.
Last year, the father of three even made his directorial debut with a small movie he wrote called Shelter, about homelessness in Manhattan, New York.
Ironically, it starred his Civil War co-star Anthony Mackie (who plays Falcon) and his US actress-wife Jennifer Connelly as lovers.
At our interview at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, the bespectacled Bettany says he feels very "privileged" and "blessed" to be in the position that he's in.
"I want to continue to tell stories. That's what I know. Whether as a director, writer, actor or sitting at a table at dinner, I love telling stories," he says.
Are you at all like Vision in any way?
No, not really. I'm quite a passionate human being that responds too quickly in situations, and not as mindful and thoughtful as I should be.
He's more like my wife, who has an elegance and poise. I don't recognise that in myself at all.
Tell us more about your costume.
It was a very long process to create. They do 3-D imaging of your whole body and then they create a muscle suit that fits perfectly on top of your biceps and triceps and shoulders.
But the stomach (part) is like a pair of women's tights. It's very fragile and you think, I can't drink beer and eat cheese because that's going to give the game away (laughs). You have this make-up that becomes part of the costume. It's glued to you. You have a bald cap that is attached underneath your eyebrows and then glued to your head.
Then a racing vest underneath that pumps ice-cold water through the torso. It's a little like being inside a gin and tonic, which is lovely. That seemed to do the trick to keep down the core temperature.
This is only your second superhero movie as Vision. How has the experience been so far?
I enjoyed them both very much. I loved the challenge of trying to imagine being born on-screen in the other movie. I doubt it's going to happen to me again that I will be given birth to. Trying to imagine what it's like to be omnipotent and super powerful and totally naive, yet experiencing the world and learning about the world at an extraordinary rate.
Where you find Vision in this movie is at a place where he's trying to work out what love is.
When they couldn't use wiring, they used hoverboards to make you fly?
Yeah, it was great fun. The first time you stand on them, you just you want to get off and you think I'm never going to understand this. Then two minutes later, you're an expert. The learning curve is so intuitive.
Have you hoverboarded around Manhattan, where you live?
I think it's unseemly of a man of my advanced years to be on a hoverboard around Manhattan, but I have (laughs).
I had to get to my car. We were staying in a friend's apartment while our apartment had some work done on it and I woke up late getting the kids up. Jennifer was away and I thought, 'God, how am I going to get down to where the garage is and do the school run?' I saw the kids' hoverboard and I hurtled down the West Side Highway. Luckily it was very early and there were no paparazzi.
Any fan interactions that stand out?
It's amazing to realise that people sometimes shake and cry, you know, especially at events like Comic-Con or the (movie) premiere.
If I'm totally honest, it's quite alienating actually because they're not meeting you, they're meeting a version of you that they've created from Wikipedia and images and the movies. So that's odd.
"The stomach is like a pair of women's tights. It's very fragile and you think, I can't drink beer and eat cheese because that's going to give the game away." - Paul Bettany on his costume