Dubai Film Fest: Paul Bettany Talks 'Avengers 2' and Watching Jennifer Connelly Inject Herself

Paul Bettany - H 2014
Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival

Paul Bettany - H 2014

The actor-turned-director will play new superhero addition The Vision in 'Age of Ultron'

The first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer may have sent the Internet crazy in October, but there was a notable absentee from the explosive two-and-a-half minutes: new superhero addition The Vision.

Paul Bettany — who already voices Iron Man's sarcastic A.I. companion J.A.R.V.I.S. — confirmed that he would be getting a promotion and playing the new role in April, but as yet his character's look hasn't been divulged, barring a brief, blurred appearance on a Comic-Con poster.

"It's still a secret. I think all will be revealed very shortly," Bettany tells The Hollywood Reporter, speaking from the Dubai International Film Festival, where his directorial debut, Shelter, is screening.

"It's a secret I've kept for about three years, which is really hard, especially with three kids. I'm contractually obliged not to talk about it," he says, adding that he's still concerned about "sunlight glinting off a sniper's telescopic lens."

But Bettany didn't deny rumors that there would be a strong connection between J.A.R.V.I.S. and The Vision.

"J.A.R.V.I.S will be there and so will The Vision. But I simply can't tell you any more."

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In Shelter, which had its premiere in Toronto, Bettany couldn't have been further removed from thoughts of superhero ensembles, directing his wife, Jennifer Connolly, in a harrowing story involving a heroin addict on the streets of New York. One scene saw Connelly inject herself, although having run out of dummy syringes she simply used a real one instead.

"And she just went and put it into her f---ing vein!" he says. "And I was like, 'OK, let's roll the camera.' "

While Bettany claims he didn't plan to write a polemic about homelessness "being bad," he did want to create a film that was about judgment toward people in situations such as homelessness and how "in a world of increasing gray areas, we're getting more and more entrenched in black and white."

"New York City is the richest city in the world, and 59,000 of its residents are homeless as we speak. And 25,000 of these people are children," he says, pointing toward Michael Bloomberg's time as mayor for cause.

"I think 36 percent of affordable housing has been lost during the Bloomberg years, and homelessness has risen to 59,000, but you would be a fool and a communist to draw any link between the loss of low-cost housing and the amount of people seeking shelter in the municipal shelter system of New York City."

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Bettany's next shot in the director's chair, following another turn in front of the camera alongside Johnny Depp in action-comedy Mortdecai, is likely to be slightly more upbeat.

"It's a satire, and I'm very close to having a final shooting script, at which point I'll start touting it around."

He says he'll likely employ the services of his wife once more, along with some others, to help attract investment.

"It's a much bigger cast than Shelter, and hopefully I'll be able to convince an army of financeable friends to being in the picture."