Real-life couple Bettany and Connelly tap personal shorthand for Creation

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TORONTO - After meeting on the set of "A Beautiful Mind" nearly 10 years ago, real-life couple Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly say they spent a long time waiting for the right movie project that would allow them to work together again. They found it in the Charles Darwin biopic "Creation."
Bettany stars as the celebrated scientist while Connelly plays his devoutly Christian wife, Emma.
"I certainly had wanted to work with my husband for a long time and we hadn't seen anything that seemed appropriate for us to do together," Connelly said last fall at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie premiered as the gala opener.
"Somehow this felt like the right project for us. It felt like the sort of film that wouldn't be in any way negatively affected by our personal relationship."
Part psychological thriller and part love story, "Creation" weaves back and forth in time as a young Darwin struggles to grasp the consequences of his emerging evolutionary theory while grieving over the death of his 10-year-old daughter.
The New York-raised Connelly says she was intrigued by the film's deeply personal take on Darwin's controversial ideas, adding that working with British-born Bettany "felt like an extraordinary privilege." If anything, their private relationship added a nuanced dimension that otherwise would be difficult to achieve, she suggested.
"Charles and Emma Darwin were, of course, not only husband and wife but first cousins and (they) grew up together. I felt like perhaps this sort of personal shorthand that my husband and I have together could give us a head start," she said.
Bettany admitted they were initially nervous about what the experience would be like. He joked that it would be difficult "to come home after a long day and moan about the leading actress if she is your wife."
"But it became immediately really easy and a wonderful working relationship," said Bettany, who gained 40 pounds for the period piece.
"And also we didn't have much time to make the movie, so it was good being able to make use of our evenings together and talk about tomorrow's work, the next day's work. ... Were she not my wife, I would say it was an honour and a privilege to work with her as an actress, but she is my wife so I'll say I carried her through the whole movie," he said smiling.
While such onscreen partnerships are relatively unusual, there have been several high-profile examples - think Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in "Eyes Wide Shut," Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor in "Zoolander," Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony in "El Cantante" and Canadian comics Jason Jones and Samantha Bee who teamed up for the indie "Coopers' Camera."
Writer/director Judd Apatow routinely works with his actress wife Leslie Mann and says collaborating with family can be a great experience when boundaries are clearly set.
"We get along best on the set because I'm in charge," jokes Apatow, who directed Mann in "Funny People," " Knocked Up" and "40-Year-Old Virgin."
"At home I'm not in charge - at home, she's the director. I like having an excuse to boss her around."
Apatow's latest film, "Funny People," was a full-on family affair, with the couple's kids appearing onscreen alongside Mann and co-stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. By the time shooting began, Apatow says he and Mann had discussed the film for a year and were clear on what would and would not be appropriate for their kids.
"I try to shoot them very quickly, only in a few hours," he says.
"I never work them more than a few hours a day because I don't really see my kids as actors, I just see them as people who are really fun to watch and natural and they seem like Leslie's children. You don't get that weird, creepy thing where you can tell the kid is not really the kid of the actor."
Communication is key to making sure the experience of working with family is a smooth one, says Peter Spierig, who wrote, directed and crafted visual effects for the horrors "Undead" and "Daybreakers" with his twin brother, Michael.
Spierig said the brothers map out so much in advance of shooting that any possible conflicts are worked out well before they arrive on set. As brothers, it also helps that they have so much in common to begin with.
"You grow up in the same house, you have the same interests," says Spierig. "It's hard for us not to share some very similar ideas and similar takes on things."
Connelly says it was the little things that she liked most about working with Bettany on "Creation."
"I felt so happy, you know, even on a very superficial level to be able to go to work with my husband every day and sit down next to him in the trailer and put our make-up on together."
"Creation" opens in select cities on Friday, including Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria.

Organizations: Leslie's

Geographic location: TORONTO, New York, Halifax Montreal Ottawa Winnipeg Edmonton Calgary Vancouver Victoria

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