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Why Geoffrey From A Knight's Tale Looks So Familiar

2001 marked the release of a medieval romp that looked and sounded very different from your typical knightly adventure. Brian Helgeland's "A Knight's Tale," plucked from the pages of "The Canterbury Tales" — and Queen's greatest hits — delivered a humorous hybrid romance. Met with mixed reviews upon release (via Rotten Tomatoes), the story of a lowly squire desperate to become a knight and jousting champ earned $117 million (via Box Office Mojo) and has become a cult favorite for Heath Ledger fans as one of the go-to entries that didn't involve him playing a love-struck cowboy or an iconic comic book villain.

Joining Ledger in the medieval madness was relative newcomer, who played real-life author Geoffrey Chaucer (the actual writer of the story the film is based on). Dramatized in the film as the hype-man to the up-and-coming jousting contender, this outlandish jolt of comic relief provided a charm and cockiness to Chaucer that sometimes even outshone the film's lead, making him a noticeable talent that quickly appeared in meatier and universally praised roles. It would lead him to become a notable name in one of Hollywood and part of one of its biggest franchises. Many years before that, though, he'd be providing a turnout performance that no one could imagine, beside Russell Crowe.

That actor's name is Paul Bettany, and here's where you've seen him.

Paul Bettany gave tremendous support to A Beautiful Mind

One of the most notable roles post-"A Knight's Tale" for the then-young star, Paul Bettany, was appearing as the friend to Russell Crowe's real-life mathematician, John Nash. Ron Howard's "A Beautiful Mind" saw Crowe as the aforementioned genius and paranoid schizophrenic, whose world is wrought with delusions that test his day-to-day life. One element, in particular, is his good buddy Charles (Bettany), who Nash regularly confides in ... only for us to discover, later in the film, that he is totally imaginary.

While it was a testament to the impressive writing from Akiva Goldsman, the truth to Charles's origins was also fortified by Bettany's ability to flesh out a character that, to others in the film, is entirely non-existent. It's a twist that's rarely held in the same conversation with other cinematic greats, but one that should still be considered thanks to Bettany's efforts. The dream roommate to Nash oozes chemistry with Crowe, making the truth all the more distressing. IT also showed a spark that would be reunited once more when the pair set sail two years later.

Paul Bettany, Crowe and The Far Side of the World

While fans still curse the seven seas for not seeing a sequel to a film with one hell of a cliffhanger, the fact that Paul Bettany boarded "Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World" is one of the integral pieces that makes this maritime movie worth returning to. 

As the surgeon with a steady hand and a fascination with foreign lands, Bettany's Stephen Maturin is an excellent performance, once again strengthened by his brilliant back and forth with Crowe's Captain Jack Aubrey.

Based on a series of books by Patrick O'Brian, which will now be revisited for a prequel, the Maturin-Aubrey relationship was core to "Master and Commander," and a role that Bettany applied great enthusiasm to. Going as far to learn the cello as best he could, Bettany told Entertainment Weekly back in 2003 that he and Crowe's "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."

Paul Bettany's voice became a Vision

While that one particular series may not have set sail, Paul Bettany would become part of a franchise bursting with potential, just five years later — he just didn't know it yet. In 2008, the actor provided his eloquent British rasp to bring an artificial intelligence to life in "Iron Man." JARVIS was the sarcastic voice inside the shell-head of billionaire-turned-hero Tony Stark's suit. A subtle but significant casting choice for the film, he'd go on to reprise the role again in "Iron Man 2" and "Avengers" before transforming into one of the most powerful characters in the MCU — the superpowered synthezoid, Vision.

Lacking the dry humor and wit of the program he was downloaded from, Bettany's Vision became a stoic, philosophical force for good that was a welcome addition in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." From here, he'd go on to return as Viz in "Captain America: Civil War" and super epic showdown "Avengers: Infinity War," before having his head caved in by the space tyrant Thanos. While the loss of his character in the latter was heartbreaking, it was nothing compared to what was in store for us on Disney+.

Emmy Nominee, Paul Bettany

Following the events of "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Endgame," the world was excited — and understandably apprehensive — about seeing the return of Bettany's crimson-faced hero in Disney+'s "WandaVision." The surreal, sitcom-obsessed series didn't just allow Bettany to delve deeper into a character he'd played for five years: it also opened up various avenues for the actor to take his alter-ego places we'd never seen before.

Opposite the equally impressive Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda, Bettany phased between comedy and tragedy with minimal effort, being given more to work with to flesh out Vision with incredible effect. Seeing Viz slowly uncover how he had been seemingly revived and re-homed in the town of Westview made for a gripping and grief-filled watch, earning the actor an Emmy nomination for his performance. Now with the uncertain future of the next model Vision heading off to parts unknown, Bettany's performance certified a now-beloved character he has made his own, and one whom we can't wait to see return.