“I used to turn up for two hours in a dark sound booth with a microphone, and leave with a bunch of cash, which was great,” says the actor.
“Now, I actually have to turn up and earn my living. The upside is you’re working with really creative, funny, interesting people, and we had a lot of fun on set.”
So much fun that director Joss Whedon reprimanded the cast.
“For us, the set was very funny. They’re a bunch of very creative, entertaining people who are a giggle to be around.”
Apparently, Robert Downey Jr, who plays Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, wasn’t even the worst of the culprits (they were Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo).
In this sequel to 2012’s Avengers Assemble, Stark jump-starts a dormant peacekeeping programme — but things go awry and the heroes have to reassemble to stop the villain, Ultron, from exterminating the human race.
Jarvis transforms into a new character, called Vision, an artificial life form and “totally naive creature born as an adult, who is super-smart and yet he still has the child-like features of experiencing everything fresh”, London-born Bettany says.
As befitting an Avenger, his new guise is impressive, and the 43-year-old says it involved six months of make-up tests “to figure it out”.
“My daughter, Agnes, loved it. She’s three and was very upset when I took it off at the end of the day. She wanted ‘Purple Daddy’ back.”
Bettany, who also has a son, Stellan, with his wife, actress Jennifer Connelly, and is stepfather to her son, Kai, says he found himself in some strange situations while attempting to keep his character’s get-up under wraps.
After studying at Drama Centre London, Bettany regularly appeared on stage before making his TV debut in 1994, in an episode of detective series, Wycliffe.
In 1997, he was cast in a small part in the Holocaust film, Bent, but it would be another three years before he landed his first leading film role, in 2000’s Gangster No. 1.
This led to Brian Helgeland, the director of A Knight’s Tale, who wrote the part of Chaucer in the 2001 movie with Bettany in mind.
Helgeland also told Ron Howard about the actor, and he was cast in A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe.
It was also through that Oscar-winning movie that he met Connelly. The pair worked together again on 2009’s Creation, and most recently in Bettany’s directorial debut, Shelter, a story about two homeless people, set for release later this year.
“Usually, we tag-team; there’s always one of us at home, but, on this, we were having to both work. And this was really intense in the subject matter, and some of the things that happened in the scenes were really dark. I’m very glad for my children that it’s ended.”
The experience hasn’t put him off directing, though.
“Directing taught me more about acting than 20 years of acting,” says Bettany.
That said, he still enjoys letting somebody else take charge. “It’s lovely to totally let go.”