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Paul Bettany Pictures

Paul Bettany Pictures

Geographically, Paul Bettany has just arrived from London and Barcelona, where he was doing press for "The Da Vinci Code," after time in Mozambique and elsewhere in Africa, where wife Jennifer Connelly is shooting a film. Artistically, Bettany has arrived at the role of pop literature’s most notorious albino after stints as a bestial gangster, a Napoleonic era ship’s surgeon, a lovesick tennis player, Geoffrey Chaucer and an imaginary friend.

Paul Bettany, 34, ended the interview with this memorable quote: "I would like to just repetitively make children and practice making children in between."   I love Paul, his humor cracks me up lots.  The Da Vinci Code world premieres in Cannes tomorrow and opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, May 19.  Continue reading the article after the jump, more pictures in the gallery!

(Continued before the jump)

A renaissance man? An actor with eclectic tastes? An artist determined not to repeat himself?

"Just out of boredom, that’s why you really do it," Bettany told The Associated Press in Los Angeles before heading to the Cannes Film Festival, where "The Da Vinci Code" was picked as the opening night film.

"Like with `Wimbledon,’ I’d never been in a romantic comedy before. I wondered what’s that sort of like? So I tried one, and then wanted to keep going on trying new things. It would be dull otherwise."

The British actor, who turns 35 on May 27, was offered the role of albino monk-assassin Silas after previously working with director Ron Howard on "A Beautiful Mind," in which he played a phantom buddy to Russell Crowe’s schizophrenic character. Bettany met Connelly on the film, which earned her the supporting-actress Academy Award.

Though Bettany had not yet read "The Da Vinci Code," the role was an easy sell when Howard called.

"I took about nought-point-two seconds to answer, and said yes," Bettany said. "What was going on in my head was, monk-assassin, Ron Howard, 40 million copies sold. If you say no, at that point you should go, `I should just get on a plane and go home.’ That’s quite a lot of things that are already right about it."

Add a cast led by Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and Ian McKellen, a lurid hunt for the Holy Grail and a religious firestorm over author Dan Brown’s speculations that Christ and Mary Magdalene were married, and Bettany found himself at the center of one of Hollywood’s most anticipated productions.

Bettany said he had avoided reading "The Da Vinci Code" partly out of "some ghastly English snobbery. … I just thought it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea." Once he took the part, Bettany went out and bought a copy, devouring it in two days.

"There’s an absolute motor that sort of drives it, and it’s sort of like a guilty pleasure, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that," Bettany said.

Bettany was born into a theatrical family, his father and grandmother working as actors and his mother spending time as a stage singer.

Initially raised as a Roman Catholic ("a lot of guilt, and I still smell the incense"), Bettany then attended Church of England and Methodist congregations as his father experimented with different Christian branches.

Now "fanatically atheist," Bettany said he was not prepared for incessant questions about the religious debate over the novel, which theorizes about a conspiracy to cover up Christ’s marriage and villainizes the Catholic group Opus Dei, whose leader helps orchestrate dark deeds in pursuit of the Grail.

Monk Silas is an extremist Opus Dei member who practices "corporal mortification," wearing a barbed chain on his leg and flogging himself during prayer.

Bettany’s answer to "Da Vinci Code" critics: It’s only make-believe.

"When I went out to buy the book, I bought it in the fiction department. I didn’t buy it from the philosophy and personal growth department. A theological discourse as we all know is not a page-turner. I, like most people, read it like a beach novel over two days," Bettany said.

"I would be surprised if there’s much furor over the movie. Personally, I’ve only noticed it in America. Nobody mentions it in England or France. The only place it’s been mentioned is here, and I’ve yet to meet anybody that is sort of offended. And if we have offended anybody, if I have offended anybody, they’re Christians, so I’d ask them to forgive me."

After early success in British theater, television and film, with a notable turn as a criminal mad dog in "Gangster No. 1," Bettany clicked with U.S. audiences as ribald poet Chaucer in "A Knight’s Tale."

Following "A Beautiful Mind," Bettany worked again with Crowe as a shipboard doctor in "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World." In "Wimbledon," Bettany was a fading tennis veteran who becomes an underdog sensation after striking up a romance with a hotshot American player (Kirsten Dunst). He co-starred with Nicole Kidman in "Dogville," director Lars von Trier harsh indictment of America.

Most recently, Bettany was the black-hearted mastermind who holds Harrison’s Ford’s family hostage in the high-tech heist tale "Firewall."

Bettany got into acting after a prolonged period of grief and isolation after his younger brother died in a fall. He said he made the mistake of talking about his brother’s death and its aftermath in interviews before but now declines to discuss it to avoid "me having to have a bad day because I’ve had to go back to the darkest place in my personal history."

He’s effusive about his family with Connelly, though. Besides a stepson from Connelly’s previous relationship, Bettany has a son of his own with the actress and looks forward to more kids.

"I would like to just repetitively make children and practice making children in between," Bettany said.

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20 Comments

# 1

Audrey Tautou is too pretty.

# 2

Can’t wait for this film. Really like this book. it’s pure fiction. I loved the book mostly for the art and the locations, both very familiar to me. Audrey Tatou is so French LOL! She’s cute. Yay for bringing clasical art & history back in fashion.

# 3

*******PAUL BETTANY*************I hope he really comes through acting wise in this film, because this part is THE part in the film. He’s and his wife Jennifer Connelly are a great couple with great talent.

# 4

lol..i almost spit my coffee on to the computer screen when i read that quote… i wasn’t expecting it. I like Paul Bettany and hope that he does well in the movie.

# 5

Paul Bettany is sooo classy, sooo british, he’s one of my favorite actor ever… I hear he was creepy in the movie, gonna see it tomorrow morning ehehe :D But still the Da Vinci Code was an awful book, badly written with a lot of writing clich├ęs, and "inspired" by toooo many others ideas from other books… Still, Dan Brown managed to make a huge marketing thing with it, so well done for him, thats all I can say :)

# 6

I just love Paul. I just love his humor. I can see why Jennifer married him.Donna A.

# 7

sad to say, i don`t like tom but i will see this flim because i like these kinds of storyline.

# 8
ErinMarie79 @ 05/16/2006 at 1:51 pm

I can’t wait to see this film. Paul is so funny. Audrey is stunning. Tom’s hair may drive me crazy in this however.

# 9
lostinnyc @ 05/16/2006 at 1:53 pm

Paul Bettany naked in DI VINCI – what time do the doors open?

I also love Jennifer and Paul. I think he’ll do great in the movie, can’t wait to see it. Any pictures you find of Paul, Jenn, and kids are always appreciated by me, Jared! I don’t always see them so I enjoy when I do.

+greenpeace+ @ 05/17/2006 at 12:12 am

I love how he handle the whole controversy regarding the book. what a perspective!

First reviews from Cannes have come out. Looks like it bombed. Not well received in the theater at all but they are notoriously the toughest crowd. I’ll still see it Friday.

tara weed @ 05/17/2006 at 6:32 am

How *** Tom Hanks gets to star in this and stupid Ron Howard gets to direct? Tom Hanks is on top of my Meg Ryan list of actors I wouldnt pay money to see. But Ill go for Paul Bettany – what a great actor.

I love Paul Bettany!! He is so fine!! Even though you can’t see his eyebrows, he is just so attractive :)

Guh, Paul has been cracking me up on the DVC press, talking about horny elephants and organized monkeys. And he’s oddly sexy, too. Just really, really, really sexy.

I hear its over two hours long and boring. But Ill go for you, Paul.

i think he looks great.

I RECKOM HE IS SO SEXY ESPECIALLY THE PART ON THE DA VINCI CODE WHERE IT SHOWS HIS SEXY BACK

also he is the best actor in the world. and jennifer connoly and him are perfect for each other

Paul Bettany plays an archangel in the movie Legion who believes in the human race, and he talked about body art… Great movie. l Paul Betanny very handsome sexy and i like his height.

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