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Paul Bettany

  1. Sandy Nelson, Braveheart, 1995.     Mel Gibson said he’d got the part - then he hadn’t.   “Luckily, I hadn’t been stupid enough to tell anyone back at the Drama Centre, otherwise I would havelooked as if I was making it all up.”
  2. Ralph Fiennes, Red Dragon, 2002.     Passed on  the Tooth Fairy for a lesser  paid role in Lars Von Trier's oh-so-utterly-pretentious Dogville, 2003.
  3. Orlando Bloom, Kingdom of Heaven, 2005.    Among the actors auditioned by UK director Ridley Scott for the lead role of the 12th Centuryblacksmith-turned-knight Balian de Ibelin.
  4. Daniel Craig, Casino Royale2006.
  5. Daniel Craig, The Golden Compass, 2006.  In talks about becoming the scientist-explorer  Lord Asriel… when Craig became available. And a once suggested Bond, Clive Owen, was also in the mix. In the West End stage version, His Lordship was another Bond: Timothy Dalton. However, Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, had voted for  Jason Isaacs.
  6. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight, 2007.
  7. Ryan Phillippe, Dark World  (aka Franklyn), 2007.   The parallel universes were first aimed at Bettany as the vigilante detective  and Ewan MacGregor as the shattered dreamer. Instead, Eva Green was caught between Philippe and Sam Riley in… wait for it…  Meanwhile City.
  8. Matthew Goode, Brideshead Revisited, 2007.  Before leaving to helm Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, David Yates had chosen  Paul Bettany and his wife Jennifer Connelly as Charles Ryder and Julia Flyte, plus Jude Law  for Sebastian Flyte. New director Julian Jarrold chose Mathew Goode, Hayley Atwell and Ben Wishaw.  Oh,  and Emma Thompson who threatened to quit if (the dreaded) producer Harvey Weinstein  didn’t stop chastising Hayley about her weight. He once told her at lunch: "You look like a fat pig on screen. Stop eating so much."  And him, so slim!    The film was no match, even after 27 years, for the classic TVersion of Sebastian and Julia  and Charles  - Anthony Andrews, Diana Quick, Jeremy Irons.   Of course, they had eleven episodes to seduce us with.
  9. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech, 2010.     David Seidler waited 30 years to write the story of how Britain’s King George VI defeated his stammer - and always saw Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue.  And Bettany as the king.  UKdirector Tom Hooper agreed to Rush, only.  “I was lucky that it was decided the role would go to Colin. As soon as he read for it, I knew he was perfect.”  That’s why he won the Oscar in 2011.
  10. Michael Sheen, Masters Of Sex, TV, 2012.    Bettany agreed to the series, then changed his mind about playing the famous sex-researcher Dr William H Masters.  Sheen took over – a bit of switch for his frequent UK role of Prime Minister Tony Blair! Working in St Louis with Virginia Johnson during 1957-1965, Masters recorded lab data on human sexual response , while observing 382 women and 312 men, aged between 18 and 89, having sex or masturbating. Sheen helped produce the show,  adapted from Thomas Maier’s book Masters of Sex: The Life And Times Of William Masters And Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How To Love.  Now that's a title! 

  11. Russell Crowe, Les Misérables, 2012.     And now with an Oscar under his belt,   director Tom Hooper tried  for Bettany - offering him Inspector Javert.  Same reply.   (Well, Hooper hadn't picked him for The King's Speech). 
  12. Tobias Menzies, The Crown, TV 2018-2020.   As Olivia Colman succeeded Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II for the third/fourth seasons, Bettany was in talks about taking over from Matt Smith as her husband, Prince Philip - until his agenda deemed otherwise. Menzies was almost of royal blood…  He played Brutus in Rome, Edmure Tully in Game of Thrones, the dual roles of Frank Randall and the sadistic Black Jack Randall in Outlander and the Duke of Cornwall opposite Anthony Hopkins’ King Lear for BBC/Amazon.


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