In 2008, Paul Bettany’s smooth voice and soothing accent became the signature voice of Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S in Iron Man. He continued the role in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, as well as in The Avengers. In 2015 he transformed from the unmistakable voice talent of J.A.R.V.I.S. to an unmistakable look when he was first seen on the big screen as Vision in Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
Bettany will continue his role as Vision when Captain America: Civil War hits theaters on May 6th and for fans of Bettany, Vision, and J.A.R.V.I.S., this means more screen time from the popular character, new to the MCU.
First, let me start by saying, that I was > close to having the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. as my voicemail greeting. I’m certain I’m not the only Marvel geek who’s ever dreamed of ‘owning’ that voice as their assistant.
“Being the iconic voice of J.A.R.V.I.S.,” I asked Bettany, “have you ever had anyone ask you to record their outgoing voicemail?“
“Is this a request?” he asks me. I pretend to protest while reaching for my phone.
It should be noted that this is the moment when Chris Evans ruined my life. He walked in to begin his interview, and all was forgotten. So, the title of this article should be “The Day Chris Evans Ruined My Life”, but we’ll leave that behind – for now, Mr. Evans – and continue with the stunning Paul Bettany.
Bettany enters the room, literally humming a little tune. We’re just one room of many that is full of questions that day, but he seems to be keeping in good spirits.
“Excellent. Marvelous. Thank you very much,” he says, in his unforgettable J.A.R.V.I.S.-like voice. “What can I do for you all? Probably wondering why I brought you all here?”
Of course, he’s funny, too.
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Paul Bettany On The Look Of Vision
To create a character, like Vision, that has such a unique look, many would assume that it would be easiest achieved by using CGI or other movie-magic tricks. It was surprising to learn that much of the look of Vision was achieved with good, ol’ fashioned makeup.
“It’s mostly costume and makeup,” Bettany confirmed. “And then there’s some sort of circuitry, I don’t know how to describe it. The makeup starts from under my eyes, here and goes all the way under and a bald cap that glues here,” he said while pointing to his head.
Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016
“What the CG does is continue the lines and circuitry into my eyes,” said Bettany. “There were no contacts. They stopped short of that. They thought, “We’re punishing him enough. Poor bastard’s in Spanx and a life and a muscle suit. How about let’s give him some contact lenses because it’s funny.“
In a recent interview with Bettany, he shared his excitement for the idea of the costume but said he didn’t think about what it would mean to him physically. He told us, “It was hot. You know, you all come out of your air-conditioned trailers in your costume and makeup and everybody’s looking rather like superheroes and movie stars. And then in about naught point 5 minutes later, in 105 Atlanta weather, you look a lot less like a movie star,” Bettany laughed.
He shared with us that the construction of Vision’s suit, as well as Black Panther’s suit, has a sub-suit that pumps ice-cold water through it to help keep them cool. Bettany likened it to being inside of a gin and tonic. According to Bettany, the process takes approximately two-and-a-half hours.
“If you can imagine — close your eyes and imagine being inside a gin and tonic. It feels exactly like that.” – Paul Bettany on the construction of Vision’s costume.
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Paul Bettany On What Love Means For Vision And MCU
As Marvel comic book fans know, Scarlet Witch and Vision have a long-standing romantic interest in each other that leads to much more. I won’t spoil it for non-comic book fans, especially since the MCU sometimes doesn’t follow the exact timeline or events that occur in the comics.
However, there does seem to be a hint of this blossoming relationship in Captain America: Civil War.
“I think you find Vision on a sort of personal quest [in the movie],” Bettany says about his character. “You know, in the previous movie, you see him born, which I don’t expect ever to do on camera again in my career. He is naïve and yet omnipotent in sort of struggling with learning about the world. And I think in this movie you find him trying to be more human.”
“We found ways to realize that visually, with him wearing … human clothes. Albeit from the 1950s, but human clothes,” Bettany said about the evolution of Vision. “The reason I think he’s doing that is he’s kind of interested in working out how loyalty works. And I think that loyalty probably works through love. Logic doesn’t afford loyalty because if new information comes to light, he might well flip and be on Captain America’s side, right?“
“But love is the water that makes soil hold roots, right? So, I think he — in order to protect humanity, he needs to understand what love is. And he and Wanda both have, you know, they share certain similarities. Which is they don’t know the extent of their powers. And that’s terrifying. And so I think that they’re both struggling with that, and it’s kind of terrifying them. And Vision working out what love is – it’s gonna be very important moving forward in terms of humanity.” – Paul Bettany on the evolution of his character, Vision, in Captain America: Civil War
Paul Bettany On Iron Man Headlines
Bettany has been quoted as saying that he never watched the Iron Man movies in which voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. In speaking with Bettany, we find that, as often is in Hollywood, it was only half of the story.
“You know, when you enter an interview with a journalist where they ask you, “Have you seen the movies?” And you say “No, I haven’t seen the movies,” he said. “And then you go on to say, “But then I don’t see 80% of the movies that I’m in.” But they don’t use that bit because it’s a much more eye-catching headline – ‘Paul Bettany doesn’t want the Iron Man movies.’
“I watched them all,” he confirms, “and I loved them. I think that the stories are becoming more and more rich and complex and I think you see that in this movie, both in terms of the interpersonal relationships between all of the superheroes and also the broader – often these sorts of movies are just plain escapism,” Bettany said.