THE YOUNG VICTORIA
While the British-born PAUL BETTANY is a recognized star overseas with well-received performances in film, on the London stage and on British television, American audiences first discovered him in A Knight's Tale, in which he played the comical role of Chaucer opposite Heath Ledger. For this performance he won the London Film Critics' Award for Best Supporting Actor, and he was named one of Daily Variety's "Ten to Watchâ for 2001.
Classically trained at the Drama Centre in London, Bettany made his stage debut in a West End production of "An Inspector Calls" under the direction of Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Billy Elliot). He then spent a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing in productions of "Richard III," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Julius Caesar" before landing his first feature film role in Bent.
Bettany returned to the stage to appear in "Love and Understanding" at London's Bush Theatre. He later reprised that role at the Longwharf Theatre in Connecticut. The play led to more British television work, including Lynda La Plante's "Killer Net" and "Coming Home," in which he starred with Peter O'Toole.
Bettany's appearance in the Royal Court Theatre productions of "One More Wasted Year" and "Stranger's House" preceded his second feature film role in David Leland's Land Girls with Catherine McCormack and Rachel Weisz.
In his first leading role in a feature, Bettany was nominated for a British Independent Film award and a London Film Critics' Award for Best Newcomer in Gangster No.1, directed by Paul McGuigan, and starring Malcolm McDowell, David Thewlis, and Saffron Burrows. His performance in this feature brought him to the attention of director Ron Howard, who cast him as the imaginary roommate of Russell Crowe in the Academy Award-winning film A Beautiful Mind. His performance in this film won him the London Film Critic's Award for Best British Actor.
Bettany next made Dogville for dogma filmmaker Lars Von Trier. The film also starred Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard and Lauren Bacall. He quickly segued into the critically acclaimed Master & Commander: the Far Side of the World, opposite Russell Crowe, for director Peter Weir. In this adaptation of Patrick O'Brien's novel, Bettany plays the ship's surgeon, Stephen Maturin, the first naturalist and best friend of Captain Jack Aubrey (Crowe). His performance won him the Evening Standard Award for Best British Actor, the London Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Elle Style Award for Best Actor. His nominations include a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor and a Broadcast Film Critics Association nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Bettany, known for his dramatic skills, then crossed into lighter fare appearing in the Universal romantic comedy Wimbledon, in which he starred opposite Kirsten Dunst for director Richard Loncraine.
He then made the Warner Bros. feature Firewall opposite Harrison Ford and Virginia Madsen. The film re-teamed him with Wimbledon director Loncraine. In 2007 he filmed Inkheart, alongside Helen Mirren and Brendan Fraser, directed by Iain Softley from the best-selling children's novel by Cornelia Funke set for theatrical release in the US in early 2009. Paul most recently was seen in The Secret Lives of Bees, co-starring with Dakota Fanning, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.
Bettany's film Creation, in which he stars with wife Jennifer Connelly, will open the Toronto Film Festival on September 10. In the film, which tells the life story of Charles Darwin, Bettany stars as the theory-of-evolution pioneer and Connelly plays his wife. Creation is directed by Jon Amiel.
In January 2010, Sony will release the thriller Legion, in which Bettany stars alongside Dennis Quaid and Tyrese Gibson. In late August, Bettany will begin shooting Priest, a horror western to be directed by Scott Stewart for Screen Gems.
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