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Paul Bettany on Inkheart

Published January 22, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of New Line Cinema
Inkheart Inkheart

Paul Bettany likes to scare kids. By playing Dustfinger in Inkheart, he saw a chance to portray one of those great characters in children's movies that both compel and terrify the young audience.

Paul Bettany is Dustfinger

"I don’t know when we got started being so overly protective of our children," Bettany said. "I was scared to death by The Wizard of Oz, scared to death by the witch, and it was great and it was exhilarating. It was so frightening but exhilarating. Why we don’t allow our children to cry in cinemas anymore, why is there a problem if they do? You do these things in sort of safe environments. You read a book about something sad and the child is safe. They're all there sitting in a dark room with their parents sitting on either side of them eating popcorn and it’s sad. I mean, what is the problem? What is people’s problem? It’s ridiculous. I mean I've heard this stuff about [SPOILER] at the end of Marley and Me and parents are up in arms about it. 'You made my kid cry!' Yes, it's a f*cking movie. I think it’s important to sort of protect your children but at least allow them to live in a real world."

Based on the novel by Cornelia Funke, Bettany made his Dustfinger his own. "I read the script and I read the novel. One comes up with one's own version of a sort of fun character to be, that sort of serves the purpose. There's simply no more rocket science involved than that. I don’t care about any of that stuff. I really don’t. I’d go mad if I worried about [that]. It’s a question that I often get asked. I mean is there a responsibility. It’s got a great readership and it’s happened. The Da Vinci Code and Silas happened inside six million readers’ heads or however many people. They read it and it’s happening. Whatever the words they are reading and the composite image of the human being, it’s happening in their head and I can't possible give six million different versions. I'm left with my version and it’s the only version that I could frankly do anyway. It’s very hard to do somebody else’s version of it."

Inkheart Inkheart

Inkheart Inkheart

Bettany also thought ahead to the potential Inkheart franchise. "You're signing a contract for potentially three films. It would be moronic not to ask them what happens in the next films. So the second one was out but the third one only existed in Cornelia’s head. So I did. I had phone calls about, 'All right, explain to me what is going to happen in script two. Is it going to differ from the book and what's going to happen in script three?' Because, well I would be a dreadful businessman if I did anything less."

Perhaps he should have also considered his furry costar, the ferret who accompanies Dustfinger on the adventure. "Here's the thing about ferrets is that male ferrets are very docile, so that's the one that sits on your shoulder like this. And that it sounds hugely un-PC, but we are talking about ferrets. The female ferrets are vicious. Vicious. And so they put a bit of baby food up here and then they show the thing the baby food, the female ferret the baby food, and it’s like ah-ah-ash-ah. And then they run off. They let it go and it goes hell for leather towards you and you sit there going, 'Oh Jesus!' And it runs up here and then they grab it and then they put the man back on, the male ferret back on who’s like that. But it’s a real tradeoff because the thing with the dudes, and this is very similar actually to human beings is that the female ferrets smell fine, and the male ferrets… And they have this tiny little penis here. A tiny, little penis that’s right by my face and it emits so much smell for such a tiny, little thing. Oh, oh, and it gets worse as the weather gets hot."

Inkheart opens to theaters January 23rd.

For the trailers, stills, poster and more movie info, go to the Inkheart Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of New Line Cinema

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