Paul Bettany

By Dave Karger
Updated December 21, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

AGE 30 MOMENT OF ARRIVAL After his butt-naked U.S. debut as rowdy Geoff Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, the Brit provides heart-wrenching comic relief as Charles, the steadfast and slick roommate of John Nash (Russell Crowe) in A Beautiful Mind. ”I remember when I was in school there was always one guy that was just so cool that you thought, God, I wish he was my best friend. I wanted to be John Nash’s cool guy.” WHAT FAME HAS BROUGHT ”I own a flat. That’s different.” WHAT IT HASN’T He can’t bring himself to use his clout for restaurant reservations. ”I feel a slight embarrassment if I ring up and go, ‘Yes, hello, this is Paul Bettany and I’d like to book a table.’ And besides which, they’d probably go, ‘Who?’ And I would have to say, ‘Do you know who I think I am?”’ WHAT’S NEXT Two-timing Helena Bonham Carter and Olivia Williams in the 1930s romance The Heart of Me and appearing opposite Nicole Kidman in Dogville. ”I play a writer-cum-philosopher [in Dogville]. And into this tiny Rocky Mountain mining community gets thrust this girl played by Nicole Kidman and she’s running away from these people, and that’s all I’m allowed to say about it or I will have my ass kicked by Lars Von Trier.” THE NUDE NEWS He’s not too worried about his Heart of Me love scenes. ”I’ve done quite a few on television,” he says. ”And you can be quite naked on television in England. So A Knight’s Tale wasn’t the first time my sorry ass had been paraded in front of people.”