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Paul Bettany as Priest

Paul Bettany as Priest

Paul Bettany as Priest

As he settles himself into his chair, Paul Bettany's piercing blue eyes scan the room, seemingly oblivious to the collective female gaze upon him.

He's looking dapper in a Balenciaga cardigan and grey shirt, which he teams with slim-cut trousers and a skinny black tie, accentuating his tall figure.

Thanking me for complimenting his outfit, he says: “Nicolas [Ghesquiere, creative director of Balenciaga] the designer is my mate — he sends me things, God bless him!”

With wife Jennifer Connelly by his side, the glamorous couple give Posh and Becks a run for their money. And, like the Beckhams, they also love their brood.

The thespian pair, who married on New Year's Day in 2003 after meeting on the set of A Beautiful Mind in 2001, are parents to 13-year-old Kai — Connelly's son from a previous relationship — and seven-year-old Stellan. Connelly is now pregnant with their next child, due later this year. He may be in town to speak about his new action film, Priest, but Bettany is gushing over the upcoming addition to the family.

“I'm really excited, the kids are really excited,” he says.

The British-born actor, who celebrates his 40th birthday later this month, even jokes about his milestone being overshadowed by the birth.

“I literally haven't even thought about it, I've totally escaped the fear and dread I hear is attached to turning 40.”

His role as a vampire-slaying holy man in 3D movie Priest reunites him with Scott Stewart, the director of post-apocalyptic religious film Legion in which Bettany starred as an archangel.

“He's delicious and he's my friend, I love him,” he says.

In the titular role of Priest, Bettany plays a steely-faced loner who leaves the church to seek revenge when his niece Lucy (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires.

As in Legion, Bettany enjoyed throwing himself around for the stunts in his new film.

“I said I want to do all of the action and they said, ‘You can do most of the action’. And then I found myself standing on top of a motorcycle at 50mph jumping onto a train, wondering what the hell I'm doing? I've got a beautiful wife and two children.”

Despite getting hurt during a fight scene with Karl Urban (vampire leader Black Hat), Bettany isn't opposed to returning for a Priest sequel.

“Yeah, Scott and I would love to do it. It was a joy. It's a nice way to earn money and people pay me to get in shape. God knows I can't do it without the cash!” he says, laughing.

He will next be heard in The Avengers as the voice of JARVIS, but his next big-screen outing is in financial drama Margin Call, with Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto and The Mentalist's Simon Baker.

“I went from Priest to making Margin Call, a tiny movie which we shot in 17 days. It was the totally opposite experience and I need that in my life otherwise I get bored,” he says.

Asked about his long-term plans, Bettany admits: “I never know how to answer that question. But I'm done with religious roles. Unless they make Priest 2, I'm done!”

Priest is in cinemas now

Belfast Telegraph


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