Paul Bettany was born in London
and raised in Hertfordshire from age nine. Introduced
to acting by his father, a teacher and ex-actor,
Bettany later studied at London's Drama Center.
After his stage debut in the West End production
of An Inspector Calls, he made his television debut
in the mystery series Wycliffe (1994)
and made his film debut in the war drama Bent (1997).
After appearing in both film and television such
as The Land Girls (1997)
and Coming Home (1998),
Bettany made his breakthrough performance as a ruthless
gangster in Gangster No. 1 (2000).
That same year, he returned to the supporting role
in Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang)
and took the leading role in the comedy Dead Babies.
Bettany was introduced to American audiences in
a pair of films, the adventure comedy A Knight's
Tale (2001) and A Beautiful
Mind (2001) in which
he starred as a best friend of mathematician John
Nash, played by Russell Crowe. The film also gave
him an introduction to future wife Jennifer Connelly
whom he married in January 2003.
Bettany next had a supporting role in the thriller
Dogville (2003) and
reunited with Russell Crowe in Master and Commander:
The Far Side of the World (2003).
He then appeared opposite Willem Dafoe in The Reckoning
(2004) before making
his first turn into romantic comedy film opposite
Kirsten Dunst in Wimbledon (2004).