Dis­ci­ple of doom

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - SHEREEN LOW Pri­est Now show­ing Vil­lage Cin­e­mas

AS he set­tles him­self into his chair, Paul Bet­tany’s pierc­ing blue eyes scan the room, seem­ingly obliv­i­ous to the col­lec­tive fe­male gaze upon him.

He’s look­ing dap­per in a Ba­len­ci­aga cardi­gan and grey shirt, which he teams with slim-cut trousers and a skinny black tie, ac­cen­tu­at­ing his tall fig­ure and aris­to­cratic com­plex­ion.

Bet­tany ( pic­tured) has made his name in in­tense dra­mas such as A Beau­ti­ful Mind, for which his wife Jen­nifer Con­nelly won an Os­car, and The Da Vinci Code, play­ing a self-flag­el­lat­ing monk, although he also had his heart-throb mo­ment in Wim­ble­don op­po­site Kirsten Dunst.

De­spite winning Em­pire mag­a­zine’s best ac­tor award for the role, he claims it wasn’t his proud­est mo­ment. ‘‘ I hate ro­man­tic come­dies,’’ he ad­mits. ‘‘ I once made a com­edy that sim­ply wasn’t funny when I read it.’’

His role as a vam­pire-slay­ing holy man in 3D movie Pri­est re­unites him with Scott Ste­wart, the di­rec­tor of post-apoc­a­lyp­tic re­li­gious film Le­gion in which Bet­tany starred as an ar­changel.

In Pri­est, Bet­tany plays a steely-faced loner who leaves the church to seek re­venge when his niece Lucy ( Lily Collins) is kid­napped by vam­pires.

‘‘ We came up with very sim­ple rules for what my char­ac­ter would not do. To cre­ate this sort of im­pass­able stoic hero, he would not smile, he would not ask ques­tions be­cause he al­ways knows the an­swer, he will not be fright­ened, he would not cry,’’ Bet­tany says. ‘‘ I would be ab­so­lutely ly­ing to you if I said I wasn’t in­flu­enced by John Wayne and Clint East­wood.’’

Bet­tany en­joyed throw­ing him­self around for the stunts in his new film.

‘‘ Ab­so­lutely,’’ he says, his eyes twin­kling. ‘‘ Ev­ery day I was do­ing some­thing fool­ish but I knew it was go­ing to be re­ally tough. I spent eight months get­ting my­self into good shape.’’

De­spite get­ting hurt dur­ing a fight scene with Karl Ur­ban ( vam­pire leader Black Hat), Bet­tany isn’t op­posed to re­turn­ing for a Pri­est se­quel.

‘‘ Yeah, Scott and I would love to do it. It was a joy. It’s a nice way to earn money and peo­ple pay me to get in shape. God knows I can’t do it without the cash!’’ he says, laugh­ing.

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