Disciple of doom
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.