Actor Paul Bettany makes his directorial debut with Shelter, a drama about a homeless couple starring Anthony Mackie and Bettany’s wife, Jennifer Connelly. Bettany also wrote the screenplay, inspired by a couple who lived on the streets in his Manhattan neighborhood. Bettany wanted to make a gritty but optimistic film. “I didn’t want to make an art film that just takes you to a really dark place and leaves you there and just says, ‘Isn’t it bad? Aren’t you lucky you’re not homeless?’ I wanted to write a story that is uplifting—hard-won, but uplifting,” he tells Vanity Fair.
Was it a challenge for Bettany and Connelly to work together on such an intense project? Connelly says the experience was unlike anything else she has done (“Working with your partner—that intimacy was a different experience for me and was really very fulfilling.”) Bettany, meanwhile, was concerned about doing a good job of directing her. “She goes to some deep, dark places that are also really revealing and involve nudity. But I think she trusted me as her partner, and she knew she could kick the shit out of me for the next 20 years if I got it wrong.”