May 23, 2018 9:30 am

Paul Bettany talks ‘Solo,’ and the unusual way he became part of ‘Star Wars’

WATCH: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' trailer


Even seasoned actors, who’ve been cast in every type of movie throughout lengthy careers, want to be a part of the Star Wars universe.

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Case in point: Paul Bettany, a British actor who’s starred in a wide variety of movies — from Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind to mystery The Da Vinci Code to his recent stint as Vision in the Avengers franchise — straight-up asked Solo director (and friend) Ron Howard if he could be a part of the Star Wars standalone.

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The answer was obviously yes, and Bettany was cast as the mysterious Dryden Vos, someone we don’t know very much about (yet). Vos isn’t one of the good guys, and by the sounds of it is roguish, volatile and most likely evil, the yin to Han Solo’s yang. Or perhaps he’s the reason Solo becomes one of the galaxy’s biggest scoundrels.

Global News spoke to a jovial Bettany over the phone about being a part of the hugely successful Avengers, now Star Wars, and his mysterious character.

Global News: First things first — Avengers. Did you anticipate Infinity War being this successful? And how does it feel knowing you’re part of this massive franchise?
Paul Bettany: It’s great! It’s really nice to be out selling things that people want to buy. I’ve been on the other side of that, and it’s a lot less pleasant. [Laughs] It’s been really lovely and a wonderfully fun trip. And it continues … it’s a behemoth. It’s bonkers how well it’s doing. I’m thrilled.

Moving on to this other piddly franchise you’re a part of: Star Wars. Have you always been a fan, even when you were a kid?
Oh my god, yes. Who wasn’t? I’m 46 years old, and I was at a very impressionable age [at the time]. My whole world changed when the movies came out. I wanted to be a part of that; whatever that was, I wanted in! It was wonderful to come in and do this.

Did you ever think you’d be a part of it? Did you ever say to yourself, ‘One day, I’m going to be a part of this universe!’?
No, oh God, no! Once I was in Marvel, I thought “This is never going to happen,” because there usually isn’t any crossover. When Ron [Howard] got the director’s gig, I texted him and said, “Hey, I was wondering if you’ve ever spent long wintry evenings, like I have, wondering why you’re not in the Star Wars franchise?”

He texted me back: “Give me a couple of weeks,” and then a couple of weeks later I was on a plane. Suddenly I’m walking down some stairs on a star cruiser, and there’s an R2 unit going by with champagne on its head. It’s been great.

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That’s an actual conversation you had with Ron Howard?
That’s exactly what went down, and I have the texts to prove it. He’ll lie, because he’s the most generous human being ever. He’ll say things like, “I wanted Paul, he’s done such good work with me in the past,” all that nonsense. The truth is I kind of begged him. [Laughs]

What can you reveal about your character, Dryden Vos? Apparently, he’s a sociopath?
He’s a gangster. He’s a big-time gangster and demands tribute. If you’re doing some work or a job in his galaxy, you’re going to have to pay tribute. It’s going to go through him. It’s not that he runs it, but you don’t want to cross him.

Does he out-scoundrel Han?
Uhhh… I think that falls into spoiler territory. You’re not dealing with Mark Ruffalo here! [Laughs]

What can you tell me about his relationship with Han?
I would say … I think “mentor” is too strong a word. Here’s the thing about Han Solo that I found captivating as a kid: He’s just so naughty. He shot first, and this is definitely a film in which Han learns to shoot first.

Clearly, you’re very close with Ron Howard. Is it easy working with him?
To be there with my old friend … he’s as close to family as you can get in this business. Him being confident in me, me being confident in him. I had a ball. He took on that job under very trying circumstances (that don’t need to be rehashed), and that could’ve been very difficult. He did it brilliantly and all of my fears about that were dispelled within five minutes of being on set. It was a wonderful experience.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ opens in theatres across Canada on May 25.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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