In Hollywood, long term relationships are hard to find. But for Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, their under-the-radar, 20-year marriage has kept the couple one of the most successful we’ve seen.
And while the longevity of their marriage is both inspiring and romantic, their relationship had some rather whirlwind beginnings. Ever since they met as co-stars on a film together, the pair have become inseparable.
And while Bettany and Connelly both have 40-year careers under their belts, they (thankfully) have shown no signs of slowing down.
Bettany’s role as Vision in WandaVision saw him become a huge part of the Marvel universe, while Connelly earned a role as Penny in the long-awaited Top Gun: Maverick—and, she’s also our July 2022 marie claire cover star.
As for Bettany and Connelly’s relationship, the pair’s love story kicked off back in the early aughts, when working together, but despite the pressures of Hollywood and fame, their relationship has gone the long haul.
Below, we look at Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly’s relationship timeline—from teenage crushes to a love story style engagement.
1980s: Bettany had a teenage crush on Connelly
In an interview on Larry King in 2015, Bettany revealed that he’s had a huge celebrity crush on Connelly since he was a teenager, after seeing her onscreen work in Once Upon A Time In America.
“Not a bad first film,” he told King. But it wasn’t a result of meeting Connelly, you see, he’s adoration of her began while he was just a teenager living in London. And little did he know, his crush was about to become a reality.
2000: Bettany and Connelly met on the set of A Beautiful Mind—but were dating other people
When recalling the first time she met Bettany, Connelly said it was during a table read for a film they both starred in, A Beautiful Mind. In the 2001 movie, Connelly starred as mathematician John Nash’s wife, Alicia, and Bettany played Charles, John Nash’s roommate.
And while she might have felt butterflies when they first met, at the time of filming, Connelly wasn’t single, she was dating fellow actor Josh Charles.
“I remember meeting him at the first read through,” Connelly told Entertainment Tonight in November 2015. “I thought, ‘Hmm, he’s really good, that guy.'”
Of course, upon meeting Connelly (his childhood crush) in real life, Bettany was besotted by her beauty.
“I’ve never been this close to someone that beautiful before,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘I bet every man you ever met has tried to flirt with you.'”
“We liked each other, but we didn’t do anything about it,” Connelly told Glamour. “We were both in relationships. We didn’t get together until months and months after that film.”
But what won her over? She was smitten once she got a taste of his musical talents.
“He started playing guitar and it was all over,” she told the publication.
September 2001: Bettany proposed to Connelly
Soon enough, their separate relationships ended and the pair were finally single at the same time.
“When I saw Paul again and we were both single, we got together really quickly,” she told Glamour in 2009.
However, her idea of ‘quickly’ might have been an understatement. As far as Bettany recalls, he proposed to Connelly after barely dating her.
Speaking with Larry King, Bettany remembered that during the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack, he was overseas and spent two days trying to get a hold of Connelly.
“I remember, very clearly, thinking to myself, ‘What are you doing?’,” he told King. “Oh… I realised I was in love. So I got her on the phone, and said ‘I’m coming over, and let’s get married’.”
For Connelly—who has one child, Kai, from a former relationship—she explained that the decision to marry Bettany so soon wasn’t a concern to her.
“It was something about the way that we were together,” she told Glamour. “He stood out to me as someone singular and rare and beautiful, and I liked the way he was in the world.”
“I liked the way he was with people. I liked the way he was with my son and the way he made me feel.”
January 2003: Bettany and Connelly are married and welcome their first child together
Confirming the news to People in 2003, Connelly and Bettany revealed that they were officially married in an intimate ceremony in Scotland during the 2002 winter holidays.
“Marriage and children changed my life,” Bettany told People, 18 years later. “It really altered who I was and what I saw as my goals.”
Considered a “whirlwind romance”, Bettany has previously admitted that he’s known she was the one all along.
“I knew from the first moment I saw her we were meant for each other,” he told People.
While Bettany and Connelly never officially announced the birth of their first child together, sources stated that they welcomed their son, who they named Stellan, in 2003.
May 2006: Bettany says that he and Connelly’s chance of having more children is her choice
Speaking on whether he and Connelly had plans to expand their family, the Wandavision star shared that the choice came down to his wife.
“It’s a conversation that the woman in the relationship absolutely has the upper hand in,” he told People. “Bearing in mind that she is the one who will be going through an enormous amount of pain in childbirth.”
He also added that becoming a father transformed how he sees life and called the birth of Stellan as “miraculous” and that being a dad made him feel like “a good human being”.
December 2010 & May 2011: Bettany and Connelly confirm that their family will grow by one
Seven years later, a representative for Connelly confirmed to People that she and Bettany were expected their second child together.
“Becoming a mother has made all the difference in terms of learning to take more responsibility for myself and my life,” she said previously.
“Parenthood changed the way I do everything. The biggest thing for me is wanting my kids to grow up safely and have happy lives. To me, that’s enough.”
In 2011, the same representative later confirmed that the couple had welcomed a daughter, named Agnes Lark, on May 31, 2011. And reportedly, Connelly welcomed her third child via a scheduled water birth in their New York city home.
November 2015: Bettany and Connelly release their film Shelter
In 2015, Bettany and Connelly worked together once again, this time in the film Shelter. Directed by Bettany, the film sees Connelly star as a heroin addict struggling to find a home, and the film was apparently loosely based on a couple that lived near their home in Brooklyn.
While attending the red carpet premiere, Connelly shared that she and her husband are “creatively aligned” and she hopes to work with him again in the future.
“I would absolutely do it again. I felt I had a lot of freedom to explore,” she said, as per People. “Because he’s my husband and I trust him so much, I felt very safe.”
When looking back on their past projects together, Connelly doesn’t regret a thing.
“I think that those opportunities just kind of presented themselves, to be honest with you,” she tells marie claire Australia in 2022. “But I’d love to work with him again. I think he’s a great actor, and we have a good time working together. He did a great job as a director as well.”
As for their children, well, they would prefer their parents to bid adieu to their working relationship.
“My son said don’t direct again,” Bettany admitted to ET Online, after sharing that while he wanted to work with his wife again, it did mean taking more time away from their family.
WATCH BELOW: Shelter Official Trailer
Speaking with Town & Country magazine, Bettany compared directing his wife in Shelter as “getting in a gravel shower”, but in the best possible way.
“Working with Jennifer as a director is like getting in a gravel shower. It’s f—ing painful, but you come out so clean at the end of it. You can’t help yielding to it, because she is also putting herself through the wringer.”
In another interview with the same publication, Connelly shared what makes her and Bettany so different and what makes them work.
“I’m not the most gregarious person in the room, for sure. I think by coupling with Paul, that kind of works,” she said.
“I’m more reserved. I can be kind of shy in a group. I mean, I manage it pretty well, but he’s much more outgoing than I am. Once I’m comfortable with someone, I’m not reserved.”
January 2021: Bettany reflect on his marriage to Connelly
During his promotion of WandaVision, Bettany explained how the pandemic brought his family even closer than before, joking that he can’t see a career as an at-home teacher.
“I’m still quite an active dad, because I’ve got a 9-year-old,” he told People. “There’s a lot of staring at a math problem, bewildered, and asking Jennifer to solve it for me.”
He added that the times that he cherishes with his family the most were “when I catch myself and realise the five of us are laughing together.”
“And there is nobody on earth with whom I could be having a better time.”
June 2022: Connelly brings Bettany and her son, Kai, to Top Gun: Maverick premiere
Attending the Top Gun: Maverick premiere in San Diego, Connelly brought both Bettany and her 24-year-old son, Kai, for the walk down the red carpet.
Connelly attended the event wearing a floor-length, heavily embellished gold gown with a high neck and long sleeves, while Bettany wore a traditional suit and Kai looked the part, wearing a black leather jacket, white shirt and navy pants.
Connelly’s two sons, Kai and Stellan, have both recently flown the nest. After dropping Kai off at Yale University, Connelly told marie claire Australia, “I sobbed the entire way. And then I sobbed the entire night.”
“I went to sleep crying, and woke up in the morning crying and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is not normal!’ I was bereft!” the cover star explained.