For Paul Bettany, getting cast in Solo: A Star Wars Story was the easy part — all he had to do was text his old buddy Ron Howard, who took over the movie midway during production. (The exact text: "Have you ever spent long winter evenings wondering why you're not in the Star Wars franchise? I have." Howard's response: "LOL I'll get back to you.") A short time later, Bettany was cast to play the film's villain, Dryden Vos.
The real challenge for Bettany came when he tried to get on set each day, and then again when it was time to go home after shooting his day's scenes.
"They're so careful. You're dressed and undressed there, you can't even take a photograph, if you wanted to take a photograph of yourself," the 46-year-old actor told SYFY WIRE during a recent interview in L.A. "There's somebody with you when you're getting into all of those costumes and there's somebody with you when you walk on to set. You're never alone. I'd love to have stolen my [character's] weapons, but I didn't get a chance."
The need for stringent security on the part of Lucasfilm was not at all irrational — this is a Star Wars movie, after all, and interest spiked even further when Howard replaced directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord deep into its filming. Bettany took over the villain role from Michael K. Williams, who had another commitment that could not be put aside in favor of Howard's Solo reshoots.
Bettany was also in the midst of another major project during his time working on Solo, but it was a lot easier to adjust his schedule given that he was shooting both of his movies for Disney. At the time he was cast in Star Wars, the British actor was on a brief break from playing Vision in Marvel's back-to-back Avengers movies; when the Russo brothers' epic production resumed filming, Bettany wound up being flown back and forth between the Marvel set in Atlanta and Solo's Pinewood production in the UK.
Somehow, working on the Solo set was actually more relaxed than the monster Avengers: Infinity War production.
"That stuff is madness," Bettany said with a laugh. "There was one script on one locked iPad. They wrote fake scenes and nobody had read the script."
By comparison, Solo's revised script was available for all cast members. It makes some sense; as a spin-off movie, starring a new cast, its plot didn't have the years of speculation that came with the decade run-up to Infinity War. Past security breaches on the Marvel movies made secrecy even more paramount.
"By the time we got into it," Bettany said, "I'd never seen anything like it."
The diligent precautions were effective, as the plot's mystery was maintained until Infinity War's late April release. With less than two weeks until Solo hits theaters, another battle against the dark side of spoiler culture is hitting the home stretch.