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Paul Bettany: Substance abuse was manic

Published 30/04/2015

Paul Bettany
Paul Bettany

Paul Bettany turned to drugs and alcohol once he became a star to deal with his younger brother’s death.

The British actor’s younger sibling Matthew died when he was eight years old after he fractured his skull in a freak accident. Paul was 16 at the time and struggled to deal with his loss for years. When he got his big break in 2001 film A Knight’s Tale, he turned to drugs and alcohol to try to cope.

“[It was] manic. I don't know if I was aware I was numbing myself at the time,” he confessed to British newspaper The Times. “I don't think [there was anger]. It was nobody's fault. It was the awfulness that is bad luck. Had there not been a heavy dew that morning.”

Matthew died after falling on to concrete from a tennis pavilion roof. Now that Paul has two children of his own with wife Jennifer Connelly, son Stellan, 11, and daughter Agnes, three, he admits he can get anxious about their safety.

“I think [the accident] is the very centre of my feeling that life is precarious, but I think I'm becoming better at it,” he confessed. “As more years pass without another catastrophe, I realise that the worst-case scenario often doesn't happen. I am definitely feeling calmer on that but don't think it will ever entirely leave. It's an indelible worry.”

While his life is on track now, Paul has spoken in the past of his regret over the way he spent the years in the immediate aftermath of Matthew’s death.

“I wish I had not been such a waster, with no sense of direction. And I wish I had never taken cocaine. I spent most of my late teens either busking to make money or sleeping in people’s gardens after a night out. There was too much booze and drugs and not enough action in my life," he admitted to British newspaper The Sun last year.

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