Soon after Kevin Feige told us about the future of Marvel Studios, we received a treat! Paul Bettany walked in and we got to talk about his joining the Avengers world as the Vision, as well as his opportunity to achieve a Marvel first – the ability to play more than one character.
As many know, Bettany is the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man movies and now that it has been announced that he is the Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Bettany is thrilled, although he did admit sitting in a voice booth and walking out with a “bag of cash” was easy work. This time, it was “(expletive) hot!” in that superhero costume!
As Bettany sits down at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, his Comic-Con appears to be filled with paranoia over what to say, and what not to say about his role in the Marvel world. “I don’t like sitting near a window with my back to it. It’s like I can see the light glinting off the [sniper's] telescopic lens,” he said and laughed.
The idea of being the Vision never entered his head, because he never thought he was “allowed” to be more than J.A.R.V.I.S. “I discovered that having played J.A.R.V.I.S., in the Marvel rule book I wasn’t allowed to play another character. Joss Whedon and I got on very well and he looked for a way to make that happen and found one,” Bettany said. “So I’m very happy!”
The largest difference between being J.A.R.V.I.S. and Vision is pretty clear.
“I used to be in a studio for 45 minutes and be J.A.R.V.I.S. and they’d give a huge bag of cash and go about my way like a burglar with my swag. And now they want me to work for my money, which is great and sweaty and hot, which you’ll realize once they unveil everything,” Bettany admitted.
“It’s a very sweaty and hot decision that got made, but It’s really (expletive) cool. It’s just been a ball to join this train that is on really clear tracks, and really lovely, funny, creative people. It’s been a joy.”
As his voice is so distinctive, how he was able to differentiate his vocal performance for J.A.R.V.I.S. and the Vision remains a secret, but he gave us clues of his place in Avengers: Age of Ultron. “I can’t really,” Bettany said of how the characters would be different -- surely for fear of spoiling. “But there are absolute differences clearly. He is not J.A.R.V.I.S. and he is not a child of Ultron, he is the Vision. That weirdly happened on its own.”
We wondered how the other Avengers feel about him being around? "[They’re] incredibly jealous,” he said and laughed. “It’s been a really lovely working experience. Initially in the plot there was a lot of distrust and that has to be navigated by the Vision and he does it in a quite extraordinarily shocking way. He gains their trust -- it’s a real roof raiser of a moment. Everybody will flip!”
And what about that costume? Will there be a yellow cape like in the comics? “Can’t discuss that. There is a cape, and it is fabulous,” Bettany said.
When he donned the outfit, one thing became immediately clear -- that it was hot. “We spent a lot of time thinking about how to keep me cool in that costume. In all the work that I’ve done, it’s just an extraordinary achievement that has nothing to do with me. It’s just a really beautiful piece of design, then manufacturing this thing out of a lot of materials that haven’t existed for a long time. It’s really cool looking. The consequence is it’s (expletive) hot!”
When it came to what powers the Vision has, Bettany was eager to explore them in full. “He’s incredibly good at punching, which is key,” he said and laughed.
“He has the ability to change his density and that is awesome and exploited brilliantly by Joss in terms of just really cool moments when Vision is able to do something that is otherworldly. And he’s discovering all as he goes along.”
As we can see in those Avengers: Age of Ultron concept art posters, the Vision has the power to levitate. But Bettany cautions that it is not the most glamorous thing in the world to do as an actor.
“Have you ever been hung in the air by your genitals? I have. It’s great. There’s a lot of wire work, and I enjoy it. They make it as comfortable as they can possibly make it, which is really uncomfortable. It’s as hard as doing something really uncomfortable for a lot of money,” Bettany said and smiled.
“But the results are so cool. Forget my genitals for a second -- I know you were thinking about them -- for me the problem is it’s another layer of clothing I have to wear!”
Lastly, we know the Vision has some important scenes with James Spader as Ultron, our main villain, which were teased in that Comic-Con footage. It was, in fact, with Spader as Ultron that was Bettany’s first scene on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
“We have a scene and it was the first scene we shot together. [Even with] these very far-fetched ideas, he managed to find something that was very human about our relationship and it was really amazing,” Bettany said.
“You look into his eyes and it doesn’t matter what he was talking about, you believe him. It was a great scene to work on. He was just so present, which is very difficult when you’re in a fractal suit. He’s got very arresting eyes and you believe everything he says.”