As Asiapop Comicon (APCC)—the first international comic convention to be staged in Manila—was wrapping up its last day on September 20 at the World Trade Center, its most famous guest Paul Bettany was already making plans to return to the country.
Hopefully, though, it will be for leisure the next time around.
This was what the British actor revealed at his press conference as The Manila Times asked about his short visit to the Philippines.
“My experience here, I realized, just tends to be this room [inside World Trade Center]and my hotel,” admitted Bettany who is currently known to legions of Marvel Cinematic Universe fans as Vision, an android superhero, and the voice of JARVIS, the artificial intelligence of IronMan.
“It’s a shame,” he shook his head.
According to the actor, press tours and comicons make it very difficult for him to explore a foreign country unlike when he is filming.
He elaborated, “I stay in a country for five months and [that’s when] I could really experience what the country is like. . . [And] when I do that, mostly, it’s about eating. I slip past my security, and I hadn’t gotten into any trouble. I tend to meet people through food. That’s what I’d like to do.”
As a follow up, The Manila Times then asked the actor what he thought about his Filipino fans. To this, he answered, “For me it’s such a fabulous thing to be able to travel and meet people who are invested in what you are doing. That’s extraordinary.”
A day before his press conference, Bettany attended a public panel where he graciously answered questions from Filipino geeks who love both Marvel comics and adventure movies. During his two-day participation at APCC, he also attended signing and photo opportunities with fans.
And because all he did in the Philippines was purely work, he expressed that he would definitely want to return for fun—and even bring his family along with him.
Bettany is married to Hollywood actress Jennifer Connelly, with whom he has three children.
“I would absolutely love to bring my family here on a trip and just travel,” he enthused.
A true family man indeed, Bettany also talked about his kids, who are Marvel fans themselves. His four-year-old daughter, for example, is “very much in love” with Robert Downey Jr. who portrays billionaire/inventor Tony Stark. Stark transforms into superhero IronMan.
“That’s kind of humiliating. She very much prefer Robert Downey’s [IronMan] than [my]Vision,” he admitted.
He also revealed he divulged to his kids he would be Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe despite the fact that he should keep it a secret.
“I let them know that I would get fired if they told anybody—and not buy them Christmas presents,” he shared.
Bettany’s Vision was a first in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because one actor is not allowed to play two roles. He was already the voice of JARVIS in the IronMan series. But then, director Joss Whedon tapped him to portray Vision in the last Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.
Recalling this experience, he said, “They found a way of bending the rule for me so I am very honored and flattered—and better off financially!”
Talking more about his superhero role, Bettany believes that Vision is “omnipotent,” and “logical.” He is also still discovering if his allegiance truly lies with the Avengers, a group of superhero comprised of IronMan, The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, among others.
“I don’t think he knows anything about loyalty yet. I think he’s [still]trying to learn. He’s on his own journey and that journey is a process of learning what being human is and what love is. . . Until he discovers what is to be human or to love, his allegiance can flip if he thinks the outcome is correct. So that’s what’s sort of dangerous with the Vision,” he explained.
In 2016, he will reprise his Marvel superhero role in Captain America: Civil War, which aired its first ever trailer at APCC for thousands of Filipino comic lovers.
A successful comeback
Despite his very successful career, Bettany revealed a producer had actually said to him once that his “career was over.”
“The story is never gonna go away. If I had a dollar for every person who told me that my career is over, my career could be over. People say strange things sometimes. [But] what I noticed about Hollywood is that people there are given second acts, third acts.”
Before making it big in Hollywood, Bettany was a drama student who left school only to become a street performer. And although it has been a long journey, he finally made waves in films like A Knight’s Tale, A Beautiful Mind, Wimbledon, The Da Vinci Code, and Dogville.
His popularity was on the rise again when he began voicing JARVIS, and now, Bettany is a household name thanks to Vision.
At this point, however, he is very proud of his first upcoming feature film starring his wife Connelly. “I’ve recently finished shooting my first film as a director, it’s called Shelter—and it stars my wife, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Mackie. It’s about a Nigerian Muslim man and a heroin addicted woman,” he said.
Summing up all that has happened to him, Bettany concluded, “You’ll never know life’s next turn. You’ll never know what’s around the corner. I try to remember that whenever I’m feeling down with life, this journey.”