Paul Bettany: 5 Awesome Performances And 5 That Sucked
1. Young Gangster - Gangster No. 1 (2000)
Asking an actor to play a younger version of Malcolm McDowell is a very tall order. It becomes an even taller order when said actor is making his very first feature film. But that's exactly the deep end that Bettany was thrown into when he signed on to appear in Gangster No. 1. Fortunately, he didn't disappoint, providing what to this day remains his finest performance. Gangster No. 1 is a crime drama directed by Paul McGuigan, who later came to prominence for directing episodes of Sherlock. It begins with an old gangster (McDowell) at a boxing match, who receives word that a man called Freddie Mays (David Thewlis) is being released from jail after a 30-yearstretch. The film then flashes back to 1968, where the gangster (now played by Bettany) is number two to Mays, known as "the butcher of Mayfair". The gangster has his eye on replacing Mays, and will do almost anything to be number one... Gangster No. 1 is a underrated British gem, which takes familiar elements of the gangster genre and supercharges them to create a memorably nightmarish concoction. But for all of McGuigan's visual decisions, and the sharp writing from the creators of Sexy Beast, it is ultimately Bettany who steals the show. His performance channels aspects of Michael Caine in Get Carter with an icy 1960s cool and a memorably manic quality which he hasn't often displayed in his later work. It's a true tour de force which, like Creation, deserves a much wider audience. Having seen the skills that got Bettany to number one, let's turn our attention to five occasions when he really fell flat...
Freelance copywriter, film buff, community radio presenter. Former host of The Movie Hour podcast (http://www.lionheartradio.com/ and click 'Interviews'), currently presenting on Phonic FM in Exeter (http://www.phonic.fm/). Other loves include theatre, music and test cricket.