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Paul Bettany Revealed Some of the Secrets Behind Vision, WandaVision, and Its Live Studio Audience

Paul Bettany as Vision

Vision has sort of been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since day one—or, at least, actor Paul Bettany has. From Iron Man and beyond, he’s been an integral part of the franchise that means a lot to so many of us. So now, to celebrate the brilliance that was WandaVision, Bettany is talking about his MCU journey and the show that kicked off Disney+’s Marvel hits!

In an exclusive from CBR and Titan Comics, we get an inside look into Bettany’s journey through the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, of course, his venture into WandaVision and how Vision has evolved. Paul Bettany is an interesting figure in the MCU because when you stop and think about it, he went from just voicing an A.I. system named JARVIS in Phase 1 to transforming into the Vision.

While he brought up Joss Whedon talking with him about playing Vision and the future of his character leading to him thinking he was getting fired after Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, it’s his explanation about joining the MCU thanks to Jon Favreau that’s wonderful:

It’s been a crazy ride. [Iron Man director] Jon Favreau rung me up — we had made a movie together called Wimbledon. And he said, “I’m making this movie with Robert Downey, Jr. And he’s Iron Man. And I need a really boring, personality-less voice for the computer that runs his world, and I immediately thought of you, Paul.” How do you say no when you’re asked so nicely? Anyway, it was a great gig.

Favreau has this tendency to get these actors to join the MCU and stay for a while. He fought to get Robert Downey Jr. as his Tony Stark, and he clearly talked Bettany into the role of JARVIS, and it’s fascinating to see. But that was just the beginning. Who knew that JARVIS would end up falling in love with Wanda Maximoff and helping usher in the Scarlet Witch to the MCU?

While Bettany thought he was getting fired, the events of Infinity War brought him into the best era for Vision yet: WandaVision. What’s interesting about the first two episodes of WandaVision is that they were filmed in front of a live studio audience and gave Bettany the ability to channel Dick Van Dyke in the best possible way:

I was really frightened. I hadn’t been onstage for a long time, but we had in our tool box this great director, Matt Shakman, who has worked on huge shows, and also more importantly, was a child actor in sitcoms. He worked in front of live studio audiences and is also the Artistic Director of the Geffen Theater here in Los Angeles. And so, he made us feel a lot better about it. We rehearsed very thoroughly, and everybody, every member of the crew was dressed in costumes. And everybody really got into the spirit of it. And then the audience came in, and I was really nervous. And then we just went for it.

You have a camera, and I know that’s where [your performance] has gotta go, right? But if there’s an audience, you do pitch bigger. And that’s what gave those shows that quality. The cameras are just three-camera setups, but the actors are playing to an audience. And so, it’s big and bold. And I guess we just sort of jumped into the abyss. I hadn’t been onstage since the ’90s, I don’t think…and I was really nervous, but I think it was so rewarding and so funny. I’d be running backstage, bumping into Kathryn Hahn, and making her drop her props or whatever, you know what I mean? Everybody is getting ready behind doors, waiting to come out onstage. It was so much fun.

Honestly, I think that WandaVision was a perfect exploration of Vision. I didn’t care about his character prior to the show, and I wasn’t really that invested in Wanda sharing her series with him (especially given how long I’d been waiting for any kind of solo Wanda Maximoff content). I am woman enough to admit that I was wrong and my mind has been changed in regards to Vision, and that’s completely thanks to WandaVision giving Paul Bettany some amazing things to work with.

I hope we get to see Vision again in the MCU, especially since he was brought back, in part, and flew off at the end of the series.

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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She/Her. A writer who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.