|May 27, 1971|
LATEST NEWS AND BLOGS
Born on May 27, 1971 in London, England, Bettany was raised in Harelsdent by his father, Thane, a ballet dancer and actor, and his mother, Anne, a singer, stage performer and secretary. When he was 16, Bettany dropped out of school and spent the next two years as a street performer - or busker - in and around London. After a year working at a home for the elderly, he decided to enroll at the Drama Centre, where he trained from 1991 to 1994. Bettany made his stage debut in Stephen Daldry's "An Inspector Calls," then spent a year with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Following appearances in over a dozen productions over the next four years, Bettany was seen in one of his earliest onscreen roles, playing Prince William of Orange in "Sharpe's Waterloo" (1997), a British drama that follows the career of soldier Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) during the Napoleonic Wars. Bettany had a memorable feature film debut in the small role of a Nazi officer in the feature adaptation of "Bent" (1997), before going on to appear in "Land Girls" (1998) and "David Copperfield" (TNT, 2000).
Already on the rise, Bettany delivered a bravura performance in the British-made crime thriller, "Gangster No. 1" (2000), playing the young incarnation of a suave, but frighteningly violent gangster learning the tricks of the trade from a mob leader (David Thewlis). After starring in the black comedy, "Dead Babies" (2000), adapted from Martin Amis' novel, and revealing himself in more ways than one in "A Knights Tale" (2001), Bettany landed a breakthrough supporting role in "A Beautiful Mind" (2001), Ron Howard's compelling, but sometimes saccharine biopic of mathematician John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Russell Crowe). His performance as Nash's charismatic, inspirational roommate - who turns out to be nothing more than a physical manifestation of Nash's schizophrenia - gave Bettany some much deserved attention in America. Following a December 2002 wedding to "A Beautiful Mind" co-star Jennifer Connelly, the actor was cast in the Thaddeus O'Sullivan drama, "The Heart of Me" (2003), in which he played a loving husband who finds himself having a torrid affair with his wife's Bohemian sister (Helena Bonham Carter).
Bettany reunited with Russell Crowe for the lavish high-seas adventure "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" (2003), playing Dr. Stephen Maturin, the good doctor on the H.M.S. Surprise and close ally to Captain Jack Aubrey (Crowe). Aubrey's intent to take the crew on a perilous mission causes Maturin to question whether or not the journey is professionally or personally motivated, putting a serious strain on their longtime friendship. Bettany was hailed for his performance, which earned him a London Critics Award and a nomination for best supporting actor at the 2004 BAFTA Awards. He next tried to establish himself as a leading man, starring in the romantic comedy "Wimbledon" (2004) as a washed up tennis ace whose passions are reignited by a love match with a feisty young up-and-comer (Kirsten Dunst), leading him to compete in the sport's most prestigious competition. Despite the unique pairing of Bettany and Dunst, the film failed at the box office. Bettany then starred in Scottish filmmaker's Paul McGuigan's Medieval murder thriller, "The Reckoning" (2004), playing a priest on the lam after leaving the church for committing adultery. He encounters a troupe of traveling actors led by the charismatic Martin (Willem Dafoe) who stage a real-life crime drama to find the murderer.
Nicely mixing up genre and character, Bettany co-starred in "Firewall" (2006), playing a ruthless and resourceful thief who kidnaps the family of a computer security specialist (Harrison Ford) in order to rip off $100 million from a bank protected by the specialist's own security system. He next appeared in one of the most controversial and anticipated films in decades, "The Da Vinci Code" (2006), directed by Ron Howard from Dan Brown's mega-blockbuster book. Bettany played an albino assassin for the secretive Catholic society, Opus Dei, which tries to thwart a symbologist (Tom Hanks) called to the Louvre Museum where a curator was murdered. A trail of mysterious symbols and clues eventually leads to a 2,000 year-old secret that could destroy the very foundations of society if revealed. Following a supporting turn in "The Secret Life of Bees" (2008), Bettany was the voice of Jarvis, the artificial intelligence that assists billionaire playboy and industrialist, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), design the suit for "Iron Man" (2008). He next played Dustfinger in "Inkheart" (2009), a children's fantasy based on Cornelia Funke's novels about a bookbinder (Brendan Fraser) who can transport fictional characters into the real world when he reads aloud.