Paul Bettany shares his funniest sea story -- The British cutup plays ''Master and Commander'''s surgeon, reteaming with his ''Beautiful Mind'' roommate, Russell Crowe

By Gary Susman
Updated November 13, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Paul Bettany, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Credit: Paul Bettany: Carla Van Wagoner/

In ”Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (opening Nov. 14), Paul Bettany plays Dr. Stephen Maturin, a surgeon and naturalist aboard a 19th-century British warship. But you know him as medieval scribe and naked guy Geoffrey Chaucer from ”A Knight’s Tale,” as Russell Crowe’s imaginary roommate in ”A Beautiful Mind,” and as Jennifer Connelly’s new husband. The 32-year-old Brit (and new father) talked to about parrots, paparazzi, and poopy diapers.

Did you enjoy shooting at sea?
It was the funniest 10 days I’ve ever spent in my life. I don’t want to sound insensitive and cruel (I am, so it tends to come out that way), but I thought watching people being seasick is one of the funniest f—ing things in the world. It’s hysterical. It’s sort of akin to sexual jealousy. It’s awful if you’re going through it yourself, but it’s very funny to watch. I haven’t seen that many people puke since a Cure concert in 1987.

Did you and Russell Crowe go out for a pint at the Monkey Bar, the on-set lounge the producers built for the ship’s crew?
The Monkey Bar didn’t have any beer in it. Can you have a bar without beer? Occasionally, I’d have a coffee. And there was a parrot. You know how, at the end of films, it says: ”No animal has been harmed during the making of this film”? At the end of this film, it should say: ”Except the parrot in the Monkey Bar.” I think I have emotionally wounded this parrot. It made a lot of noise at 6 o’clock in the morning.

How well did you learn the cello for your character’s duets with Crowe’s violin-playing captain?
Our fingers are in the right place, and our bowing is good, but you wouldn’t want to hear the sound we were making. You could follow the tune, but it sounds a lot more like you’re trying to climb inside a squirrel than I think Mozart had intended.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 139 minutes
  • Peter Weir