‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’: Paul Bettany brings the Vision to life

May 02, 2015 | 9:00 a.m.
Paul Bettany as the Vision in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel Entertainment)

Paul Bettany as the Vision in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” (Marvel Entertainment)

Marvel’s lastest tentpole film “Avengers: Age of Ultron” introduces several mysterious new characters to the superheroic team. One of the most intriguing additions is the Vision, played by Paul Bettany.

For those who haven’t seen “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” be warned: Spoilers lie ahead.

The film sees Tony Stark’s operating system and virtual butler Jarvis (a name derived from the acronym for “Just a Rather Very Intelligent System”) transform into a being not unlike the villainous Ultron in terms of power and intelligence, but on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of worldview.

Hero Complex sat down with Bettany, who voiced Jarvis in the previous Marvel films, to talk about becoming the Vision.

Paul Bettany, photographed at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif., on April 11, 2015, portrays The Vision in Marvel's "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

Paul Bettany, photographed at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif., on April 11, 2015, portrays The Vision in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)

When did you find out that your role was expanding?

About three years ago I got a phone call from Joss Whedon, and it was a very nice phone call to get. I’ve had to keep it secret, obviously, since.

Your character has a very unique look. What was the makeup process like?

It was like three and a half hours. The first day of the week is fine. The second day is a little bit more of a struggle. The third day, it gets more and more uncomfortable and it demands more and more meditation on the paycheck and the huge number of actors who would love to be in your position, which is what you do to stay calm. Because it’s a lot. You know, the prosthetics come down to [chest-level] and then it’s glued to your head, and then you’ve got this suit on that has a radiator that pumps freezing cold water to keep you cool, and you can’t hear very well, and you’ve got to go to a place of real calm to not tear it off your face.

How do you approach the Vision’s physicality?

That we talked about a lot with Joss. I sort of had an image of a ball, actually, something that can be incredibly still until right at the moment it’s in movement, and when it is, it’s ferociously hard that it’s hitting you. So you see that’s really what I was thinking of. But it’s funny where things come from. The confines of the makeup and the suit led me to a place where I really had to plan, especially when you’re on the fifth day of having worked five days in a row with not much time out of the makeup. … Funny enough, by the fifth day I couldn’t talk to people. I had my reading specs on over this huge makeup, and I sat there, and I read novel after novel after novel, just staying calm, plugged into this thing that somebody had to help me walk around with, with these tubes to keep me cool. And I think it really informed the character. He’s got a real, calm balance about him, which I think came from that.

Where do you find inspiration to play a character that’s a non-human being?

I’m not sure it’s possible, because I’d do very badly at playing a car, for instance. So you’re left with being a human, and your experience. The narrative takes care of you being an android or a syntheozoid or whatever, and you’re left with dealing with human things, but human things and thoughts from a sort of omnipotent creature who is extraordinarily powerful and yet a total innocent and is experiencing the world without any preconceptions and no moral compass except for the one that he makes for himself as he recognizes the world and his position in the world. And Ultron goes one way, and the Vision goes the other, and therein is that ying and yang thing that James and I were trying to do. It was a lot of fun. I’m never going to get to play somebody being born again. I can’t imagine it.

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Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, left, Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel)

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Chris Hemsworth as Thor, left, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel)

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Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

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Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, left, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans Steve Rogers in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

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Ultron (voiced by James Spader), left, and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel)

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

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Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, left, and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

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Iron Man's Hulkbuster suit (Robert Downey Jr.) versus the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel)

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Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), left, and Dr. Cho (Claudia Kim) in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

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Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel)

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Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

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Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, left, and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment: Marvel)

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Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), left, and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel)

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Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), left, and one of his mercenaries (Bentley Kalu) in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel)

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Thomas Kretschmann as Baron von Strucker in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel)

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The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), left, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) assemble in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel)

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The heroes of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," from left: Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Dr. Cho (Claudia Kim), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). (Film Frame / Marvel Studios)

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Chris Evans as Captain America, left, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios)

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The villainous Ultron Prime (voiced by James Spader) in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Film Frame / Marvel Studios)

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios)

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Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, left, and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios)

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Chris Evans as Captain America, left, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios)

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Chris Evans as Captain America, left, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios)

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From left: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Chris Evans as Captain America in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios)

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From left: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Film Frame / Marvel Studios)

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Elizabeth Olsen on location in Aosta, Italy, for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014. (Photopix/Getty Images)

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson on location in Aosta, Italy, for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014. (Photopix/Getty Images)

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An actor films on location in Aosta, Italy, for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014. (Photopix/Getty Images)

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Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner are seen on location in Aosta, Italy, for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014. (Photopix/Getty Images)

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Director Joss Whedon and star Aaron Taylor-Johnson on location for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014 in Aosta, Italy. (Photopix/Getty Images)

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Actors in motion-capture gear on location for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014 in Aosta, Italy. (Photopix/Getty Images)

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Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are seen on location in Aosta, Italy, for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014. (Photopix/Getty Images)

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson is seen filming 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' in Pont-Saint-Martin on March 24, 2014 in Aosta, Italy. (Photopix / Getty Images)

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Jeremy Renner is seen filming on location for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014 in Aosta, Italy. (Photopix / Getty Images)

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General view of location of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' in Pont-Saint-Martin in Aosta, Italy, on March 24, 2014. (Photopix/Getty Images)

What was it like working with James Spader?

It was so great. One of my favorite scenes we shot was a scene with James and I, the scene at the end. I had such a ball playing it. I’m working with a really great actor. There he was, standing in this ridiculous fractal suit with these cameras hanging off his head like an insect’s antenna, with these dots all over his face, and there I am purple, and all of it fell away, and you’re just left with your fellow actor’s eyes. He’s a great actor, and there’s so much honesty and truth.

Do you think the Vision has seen the last of Ultron?

Certainly not for me to say, and I don’t know. But you know, he can live inside any piece of technology, right? So who knows? If they want to, they’ll bring him back.

Is there a role you’ve done in the past that helped inform this one?

No, not really. I don’t think so. People are asking, “Is there Jarvis in him?” And of course there is. But Jarvis is a servant and there’s nothing servile about the Vision. So immediately your status has changed, because you can change your density and fly and are omnipotent. It’s suddenly not a butler anymore.

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | @LATHeroComplex

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Comments


9 Responses to ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’: Paul Bettany brings the Vision to life

  1. Joe says:

    I'm not really sure but I think your title might be a spoiler. It might just be part of the synopsis for the movie that everyone should know going into it, but when I read it I felt like it was a spoiler. If it is, at least change the title because the opening weekend is not a good time to spoil a movie like that. Maybe in a month you can do that. Just looking out for your readers!

    • noelenecy says:

      Hi Joe,
      I'm not sure the headline reveals anything that wasn't released in the plot synopsis months before the film was released, but I'll go ahead and truncate the headline just to be safe.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. @JonClem310 says:



    Here's my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron which I felt was better than the first film.

  3. Laurie says:

    I saw 'Avengers; Age of Ultron' yesterday and thought it was amazing with all the special effects, introducing the two newest members to join the avengers was a great idea as well as incorporating the older members also!!

  4. Brant says:

    Jarvis is not an acronym (as stated in the article). Jarvis is the name of the butler at the Avenger's mansion. The character was dropped from the movies and made into the AI servant of Tony Stark instead. You need to read Avengers from the mid 70's if you want to understand the characters in the movie.

    • noelenecy says:

      Hi Brant,
      In the comics, Jarvis is indeed the butler. In the MCU, the acronym is correct. My favorite Jarvis has gotta be the "Agent Carter" iteration, but that's just me. :)
      Thanks for reading!

  5. abdallasyam87 says:

    great

  6. April says:

    Love the new characters added especially Vision. I hope Vision character will be able to have his own movie in the near future. Thank you for bringing the comic book characters to the big screen. One last thing we need a female comic book character nowon the big screen.

  7. soulandabove says:

    Yes, wonderful honesty and insight, thanks. I loved Paul in several films he's done.

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