While he mostly stars in period movies like Master and Commander and A Knight's Tale, Paul Bettany still keeps up with small-screen trends. In fact, studying the history of the Middle Ages for his new film, The Reckoning (now in limited release), made him worry what future generations will think of us, based on reality TV. The mere idea sends Jennifer Connelly's otherwise placid husband into a frustrated tirade.
"I'm so frightened that in 2000 years time, some archaeologist is going to come across some video of a reality-TV show," Bettany says, "and go, 'This is what they were watching? Who were these f------ idiots? What were they doing? They spent money to watch somebody in their f------ room, sitting there talking?' I find that really shocking."
"[I] sit there and [I] watch these things, and I can feel my brain atrophying as I'm watching," the 32-year-old Brit continues. "I'm becoming more stupid by the second. It is going to be such an indictment of our culture. There should be a mass burning of reality-TV show [video tapes]. There really should be."
Bettany particularly despises shows featuring former stars trying to recapture lost glory. "Johnny Lydon was on this one in England, I'm a Celebrity — Get Me Out of Here! Johnny Rotten! I got a bit teary."
It should be noted that Lydon — the front man for the Sex Pistols — walked off Celebrity's British version after a foul rant. But that doesn't help assuage Bettany's annoyance. "The point is that [Lydon] walked on," he says. "At some point he went, 'Oh f--- it, I'll do it. It'll be a f------ laugh.' [I say to Lydon], 'No, it won't be a f------ laugh. It will be the end of you. And now, everything that you ever say is suspicious to me. Everything you say is like a turd falling into my drink. I don't trust you anymore, and I used to look to you to lead.' It is so depressing."