In February this year, British actor Paul Bettany returned to the theatre after an absence of 25 years, fourteen of them spent in Marvel’s AVENGERS franchise to play longtime international superstar Andy Warhol in Anthony McCarten‘s THE COLLABORATION at London’s Young Vic. It sees the Pop Art icon return to painting after a quarter of a century of parties, gossip and lucrative printmaking.
Billed as a ‘prize-fight between two cultural heavyweights’, the play is set in New York in the summer of 1984. Warhol and the art scene’s newest wunderkid, Jean-Michel Basquiat (played by Jeremy Pope) agree to work together on what may be the most talked about exhibition in the history of modern art. “There are also a couple of titanic lead performances… and Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope really, really deliver… Bettany is a strange and riveting Warhol… he’s a fascinating creation”, wrote TimeOut’s theatre critic Andrzej Lukowski. After a successful run in London, the production has just opened on Broadway with the same leads and director Kwame Kwei-Armah at the Samuel J.Friedman Theater. All three are also central to a film version which is now in post production.
After dropping out of school, Paul lived in a small flat and earned money playing guitar as a busker on the London streets and working in a home for the elderly before enrolling in a three-year course at the Drama Centre London. He made his stage debut at the age of 19, playing Eric Birling in Stephen Daldry’s acclaimed West End revival of AN INSPECTOR CALLS at the Aldwych Theatre in 1993.
Six plays, including three for the Royal Shakespeare Company, 13 TV productions and 42 films later his career has be filled with many memorable highlights and accolades with nine wins from 19 award nominations. He received a BAFTA nom for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of surgeon and naturalist Stephen Maturinin in Peter Weir’s MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD (2003) and won the London Film Critic’s Award for Best British Actor and the Evening Standard Award for Best Actor. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as the posh android Vision in the TV miniseries WANDAVISION. He won the London Film Critics’ Circle Award in 2002 for his portrayal of Geoffrey Chaucer in THE KNIGHT’S TALE.
Paul signed my sketch in early March during the THE COLLABORATION’s six-week run at the Young Vic.