INTERVIEW: Bettany Battles Ford in ‘Firewall’

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I haven’t seen too many movies where Paul Bettany plays a bad guy, but in the new film, Firewall, he does just that. He stalks Harrison Ford‘s family and forces him to steel $20 million from Ford’s own bank.

When we spoke with Paul, he had just arrived from New York that morning. He lives there with his wife, Jennifer Connelly, and son Stellan. He wasn’t exactly wide awake for our chat, but did give us some good stuff on his new thriller.

Now, I know people jump at the opportunity to work with Harrison Ford; Paul was no different. When he found out Indiana Jones was attached, he signed on right away. But what you may not know is Paul found out some interesting information about Harrison. “He sleeps with Wookies, which is a bit of a problem.”

Of course, he was joking! Paul described being around him as “incredibly laconic; you have to just wait and listen.” So what do they talk about? “He doesn’t really like to discuss acting; he likes to discuss stories. We had a real laugh because we both like strong curries and beer. We got on famously; I really appreciate that way of working.”

That’s just hanging out with Harrison on the side. These two have a massive fight at the end of the film, which is just awesome! You would think he was worried about hurting the 63-year-old, but if Harrison was up for it, so was Paul. “He’s so fucking fit, it’s incredible; I threw that man through a window seven times and he landed on his head and got up and was ready to do it again. He’s truly incredible.”

This fight scene went on for three days; at one point they both fall down a flight of stairs. Even then, Paul and Harrison gave it their all. Paul describes it as one of his favorite things to shoot. “There was stuff I didn’t want to do and then he did it and I’m like, ‘Fuck! Ok; yeah man, love to do it. Sure.'”

Paul was just amazed at his ability to nail a perfect scene, that Ford knew what to do and how to do it correctly. “He’s Harrison Ford, so if he says, ‘Paul, I think it would be better like this,’ you go, ‘Oh really?’ What are you gonna do? He’s Harrison Ford. You go, ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right Mr. Ford. You know a lot more about fighting.'”

I might be as intimidated as Paul was, and I’m not even an actor. This fighting continued; so much, that Paul got a little worried about hurting Harrison. “There’s one moment when I have to smack him in the gut and he went, ‘Paul, I really want to feel (it).’ And I’m pulling the punch and he goes, ‘Can you just land it a little bit, so I can feel it?’ And he goes, ‘Just a little bit more.’ And I do it, and this goes on and on, so finally I’m getting irritated. I really wind up on him and launch one, and he goes, ‘That’s it! That was it.’ It was so humiliating.”

So Paul’s reaction to Harrison facing a fourth Indiana Jones, “He’s absolutely ready to do Indiana Jones 4, I tell you. There’s a lot of people I wouldn’t fancy in a tumble against him. He’s a tough son of a bitch.”

Also in the film is Virginia Madsen; even though they don’t have many scenes together, Paul did have a chance to get to know her. She’s “fantastic,” he says. “It was lovely watching her work with the kids and how she worked with them off-screen and sort of embraced being the person that kind of protected them off-screen as well, because there’s some really foul language on sets.”

About that language, Paul gave us a little preview of what that language was like. “People are always saying, ‘Put the fucking light…’ It’s just endless, ‘fuck, fuck, fuck, c*nt, bollocks,’ around kids and you’re going, ‘No, no, no.’ She absolutely became mother hen and stopped all of that; it was fantastic.” With that language, were they ever talking about the movie?

What everyone wanted to know was what’s going on with The Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks. Obviously, Paul can’t say too much about it, but was able to give us some insight of how they’re getting ready for the media onslaught. “At the moment, I’m in a sort of high-altitude training camp with Tom and Ron (Howard) and we have lots of cardboard cutouts of interviewers and we all have those yellow glasses (makes gun shot sound). ‘It’s not about Catholicism!’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘I have no idea.'”

Joking once again, he did get a little serious to tell us, “I have no frame of reference; I know we’re opening Cannes and that sounds like a big thing. So I’m thrilled and proud and excited and all those things. I don’t know, I’m dealing with this now.”

If you can remember, the last time we saw Paul on the big screen was in 2004’s Wimbledon. That film was directed by Richard Loncraine; coincidentally, Firewall is also directed by Richard Loncraine. It was a small suggestion by Paul to bring Richard on board. After the original director dropped out, “I remember saying that he would be a good idea, but it would give me too much credit to say that I helped get him the job. I just said his name and everybody went, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.'”

Well, maybe it was more of a small suggestion, but anyway he was brought aboard. But this is a complete switch from Wimbledon; what was that like for Paul? “It was weird just working because I’d taken a year and a half off. I hadn’t worked for a year and a half, so it was sort of just lovely, and everything was sort of new again. It was just fun; it was nice going with old mates and Harrison is a laugh and Vancouver’s pretty. It was a fun job.”

And it’s a fun movie; I’ll say it over and over again, that fight scene is worth checking out! Firewall opens in theaters February 10th; it’s rated PG-13. For more information, clips, pics and trailers click here.

Check out our interview with Harrison Ford here.

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Weekend: Sep. 27, 2018, Sep. 30, 2018

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