Five Favorite Films with Paul Bettany

The Margin Call star talks Occupy Wall Street and busking before acting.

From vengeance-obsessed priests to tennis pros, from English naturalists to sentient computers, Paul Bettany has played a wide range of characters in his big-screen career. In his latest, Margin Call, Bettany plays a high-rolling investment banker whose company is on the verge of collapse -- an internal crisis that just might take the whole economy down with it. In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Bettany shared his favorite films, and also discussed Occupy Wall Street, why he (sort of) empathizes with bankers, and the difference between busking and filmmaking.



In the Name of the Father (Jim Sheridan, 1993; 95% Tomatometer)

There's so much to like about it. Really brilliant script. I think it's an amazingly directed movie. It's the real trick of that movie, to come out feeling that you're Irish and hate the English, especially when you're English, which I am. [laughs] It is one of the most exquisite performances of all time. I saw it when I was a student of acting, and there was lots of people to admire; there was Robert De Niro, and there was Al Pacino, and here was an English person, making such a complete and visceral transformation in character that you just went, "Oh my God, we're allowed to do that sort of thing, too?" That felt really empowering.




Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945; 86% Tomatometer)

Brief Encounter, I think, is just an exquisite movie. I think I see it at least once a year. It's a Noel Coward and David Lean movie, and it's so ahead of its time in so many ways. Visually, it's ahead of its time. Oh my God, it's like a piece of music. That sequence of lines in it, when they're out in the countryside, and he says, "Are you cold, darling?" And she says, "No, not really." He says, "Are you happy?" And she says, "No, not really." It's f---ing heartbreaking. I mean, it pulls every string; it's beautiful. And it's also a movie that's... the first movie I can think of -- maybe I'm wrong -- where a woman has an affair and is the hero of the piece, and isn't vilified by the piece. The husband is not evil; you know, the husband is kind of wonderful , and at the end he says, "You've been so very far away, and I'm glad you've come home," and all of that. It's just beautiful.




Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980; 98% Tomatometer)

Raging Bull. I defy anybody to point out one thing that's wrong with it. It's just perfect. There's nothing in that movie that could be cut out that would make it better. It just feels so lean and perfect. Every moment doesn't lose sight of what it's about, you know? Every shot is animal. It's amazing. Although I think it's really hard to do jealousy, because jealousy's a bit like seasickness in that it's awful if it's happening to you but f---ing funny to watch. You know, somebody puking off the side of a boat or somebody being jealous, you look like such a moron, but if it's happening to you, and you're jealous, it's f---ing appalling. Somehow, in that movie, what it pulls off is, it's never funny. It's just f---ing awful, he's just an animal, and it's the threat of violence the whole time. It's amazing and beautiful.




Prick Up Your Ears (Stephen Frears, 1987; 100% Tomatometer)

Prick up Your Ears, Gary Oldman. Great movie. That is another extraordinary performance that feels so total and complete, you know?




It's A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946; 95% Tomatometer)

I love that movie. Again, what's wrong with that movie? Not a f---ing lot, right? Really lean piece of socialist storytelling that's just gorgeous.



Next, Bettany talks about Occupy Wall Street, why he (sort of) empathizes with bankers, and the difference between busking and filmmaking.

Comments

Censured

Jason Unavailable

I see nothing fucking wrong with this list.

Oct 20 - 05:06 PM

Peter W.

Peter Winters

Fucking agree

Oct 25 - 09:59 AM

David Tanny

David Tanny

He's got Day-Lewis and DeNiro. That's cool.

Oct 20 - 05:10 PM

Movie Monster

Bentley Lyles

Need to see 1 and 3!

Oct 20 - 05:32 PM

Lex S.

Lex Stollman

You never saw Raging Bull?!

Oct 21 - 10:54 AM

Cold P.

Cold Pillow

What is wrong with you?

Oct 21 - 02:12 PM

Jason H.

Jason Huang

only heard of raging bull...

Oct 20 - 05:41 PM

Treminator

Tre Tucker

You've never heard of It's a Wonderful Life? Do you not turn on the television for the entire month of December?

Oct 20 - 06:04 PM

redrooster0

Charlie Voelker

I can't accept that someone hasn't heard of It's a Wonderful Life, it's not possible.

Oct 21 - 07:00 AM

ap sirius

karl anderson

thanks to you two an angel got their wings..

Oct 22 - 07:44 PM

Peter W.

Peter Winters

That's because you're ten.

Oct 25 - 10:01 AM

Jason H.

Jason Huang

actually, i'm 13...

Oct 25 - 06:21 PM

Irukandji

Chris Skoufis

Talented (Needs better roles though) and has a terrific taste in movies. I see nothing wrong... other than some of his recent roles (Priest...) :D

Oct 20 - 05:48 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

He needs to stay away from the crappy CGI horror hybrid piece of shit thingamajigs he has been getting caught in lately.

Oct 20 - 07:17 PM

creox

Creox X

What a great actor who hasn't done diddly for quite a while. Gangster no 1 was his best acting imo.

Pick some better scripts, Paul!!!

Oct 20 - 05:53 PM

Jake C.

Jake Crites

He's such a good actor. Shame he's always in such "meh" movies.

Oct 20 - 05:57 PM

Nathan S.

Nathan Sellers

I love the five films he listed; each one is centered around a powerful performance and captivating story. I also enjoy how it is a rather original list, minus raging bull... And maybe it's a wonderful life. But hey, how many people list brief encounter, in the name of the father and prick up your ears in their top five?

Oct 20 - 06:04 PM

Treminator

Tre Tucker

You've never heard of It's a Wonderful Life? Do you not turn on the television for the entire month of December?

Oct 20 - 06:04 PM

redrooster0

Charlie Voelker

I can't accept that someone hasn't heard of It's a Wonderful Life, it's not possible.

Oct 21 - 07:00 AM

xoOrgullosaox

Betsy Snow

Love the list, and love this guy. Like I literally try to watch his films, but he's seriously put me through the ringer the past couple of years. Legion? Priest?

Oct 20 - 06:27 PM

infernaldude

Infernal Dude

He has been in garbage lately. Priest, Legion, and The Tourist were awful. But the thing is, he is the best part of those movies. At least he has J.A.R.V.I.S. to look forward too...

Oct 20 - 06:51 PM

Myron

Myron Kinsey

Bettany on Raging Bull: " I defy anybody to point out one thing that's wrong with it. It's just perfect" I guess he doesn't read the reviews of David Nusair.

Oct 20 - 07:11 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Raging Bull - all time greatest Joe Pesci ass kicking scene! Poor Frank Vincent...

Oct 20 - 07:26 PM

snickerskicker

Richard Crismore

David Nusair gave "Horrible Bosses" 3/4 stars. That's all I need to know about his opinions.

Oct 20 - 08:36 PM

DrJimbo32

Aaron Thomas

Horrible Bosses was actually pretty funny...

Oct 21 - 10:48 AM

Brad H.

Brad Hadfield

Agree, I'm not one to use the flawed argument of "he didn't like this, so his opinion is invalid," but if you're going to use it, I would think you should at least pick a movie that was almost universally reviled, like Trannys 2 or something. Many critics praised Horrible Bosses, and it's certified fresh.

Oct 21 - 12:34 PM

King Crunk

King Crunk

He needs to stay away from the crappy CGI horror hybrid piece of shit thingamajigs he has been getting caught in lately.

Oct 20 - 07:17 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Raging Bull - all time greatest Joe Pesci ass kicking scene! Poor Frank Vincent...

Oct 20 - 07:26 PM

Mr. Hulot

Thierry Cervantes

Solid list.

Oct 20 - 07:33 PM

MAMOVIES

Matheus Cassiano

I hate when people say solid.

Oct 21 - 09:51 AM

the_wattage

Steve Watts

Mushy list, then.

Oct 21 - 10:37 AM

DrJimbo32

Aaron Thomas

Solid list bro

Oct 21 - 10:47 AM

Mr. Hulot

Thierry Cervantes

Why?

Oct 21 - 09:04 PM

Peter W.

Peter Winters

Solid

Oct 25 - 10:04 AM

Justin D.

Justin D.

Raging Bull was such an amazing film, definitely one of my favorites.

Oct 20 - 08:11 PM

snickerskicker

Richard Crismore

David Nusair gave "Horrible Bosses" 3/4 stars. That's all I need to know about his opinions.

Oct 20 - 08:36 PM

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