HE’S known for big-budget movies like A Knight’s Tale, Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World and The Da Vinci Code – but blockbusters aren’t where Paul Bettany’s heart lies.
And for that reason he’s taken it upon himself to hunt out work that truly interests him – like his new film Blood, a British psychological thriller about two detective brothers, Joe (Bettany) and Chrissie (Stephen Graham).
For years they have lived in the shadow of their father Lenny (Brian Cox), a figurehead of the community but an uncompromising man who ran the police department with an iron fist and bullied his two sons.
With Lenny showing signs of early dementia, the brothers take it upon themselves to find the killer when a local girl is murdered. They soon have a prime suspect, Jason Buleigh, and when they make an arrest all looks well.
“Joe seems to have a lot of evidence but his boss doesn’t believe that he has enough and his case falls away,” Bettany explains.
After a drinking session with the boys, Joe tells Chrissie he wants to see Buleigh’s face, just to let him know they are there and still watching him.
“And it goes incrementally wrong from there on, with Joe dragging his brother into the chaos he creates,” says Bettany.
He likens the film “to a mix of urban British thriller and Greek tragedy” and credits the director Nick Murphy for steering a beautifully written story.”
Describing his character, Bettany says: “Joe has this need to do things right, to do right by people, but to an almost crippling degree.
“He’s morally ambiguous, a man with a fatal flaw who does something undoable. And he unravels himself and that’s a great role to play.”
The actor is only making a brief stopover before returning to the set of Transcendence, a sci-fi movie co-starring Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman and Rebecca Hall.
It might be a big-budget movie but Bettany’s adamant it won’t be frothy or frivolous. “I have gone through lazy periods in my career and I won’t be any more,” he says.
“I now know I’d rather sit on my hands at home than make a movie I don’t believe in.”
• Blood is released in cinemas today and on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, June 10