Painting Paul Bettany Purple Caused Some Problems On The WandaVision Set

"WandaVision" set the bar high for Disney+ original series. We watched Wanda Maximoff grapple with her own grief by dissociating from the rest of the Marvel crew and immersing herself in a sitcom world that she created out of thin air. Her sense of loss and the surreal setting were relatable to audiences, which premiered in the thick of the first pandemic winter. The heart of the series' humanity came ironically from Vision, a robotic superhero brought to life by Tony Stark, and Wanda's romantic interest. To create his cyborg visage, makeup artists painted actor Paul Bettany's face with a shimmering, purple paint that combines with visual effects in post-production. Unfortunately, the purple paint made those intimate scenes with Wanda, which gave the show its heart, more difficult.

Lucy, I'm blue

Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Maximoff, told the BBC that the moment Bettany would touch her in a scene, the show's crew had to immediately remove the sheen of purple glitter he left behind. "So that would happen when we would have to do a kiss," she said, adding "I would pull away from my kiss and they couldn't use it because I would just have purple on my face like I took a chunk out of his skin. And then his hands get so cold because he can't really use them a lot — because of all the paint — that they shake, and I feel so bad for him."

Bettany went through the wringer — and the color wheel — for his role in "WandaVision." Each episode of the show is a near-perfect copy of an iconic American sitcom from a different era, starting with "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in the 1950s and moving through the decades all the way to "Modern Family." The production noticed that Vision's maroon skin didn't appear the same when they filmed the "Dick Van Dyke" episode in grayscale, so makeup artists painted his skin blue instead of purple (via Entertainment Weekly).

The trick of using blue instead of red makeup to achieve Vision's crimson look in black-and-white was one that Lola VFX supervisor Trent Claus ripped straight out of "I Love Lucy." He suggested the makeup crew use a lighter color on Bettany instead, like blue or green. "Now, I'm a huge 'I Love Lucy' fan," he said in an interview with Befores and Afters. "Somewhere in the back of my brain, I knew that Max Factor had done the makeup on 'I Love Lucy' and a number of other period shows and had experimented with blue and green lipstick so that it would appear more natural in black and white — the typical red makeup or red lipstick when viewed through black and white film stock looked black."

Little magical cupboard

Ever the Englishman, Bettany doesn't like to complain about his work. But he did reveal in an interview with Digital Spy that the process of donning and doffing his makeup took a toll on his skin. After working six days a week with heavy makeup, Bettany's skin began peeling. In an effort to soothe him and accelerate the time it took to remove his makeup, the Marvel crew created a "mobile sauna" for the actor. "At the end of the night, I would get into this little magical cupboard and I would sit in there with a beer," he said. "I'd be fully dressed in robes with hot towels over my head and I'd sit in there for half an hour to try and sweat the make-up off. And even if I didn't sweat the make-up off, it lifted it enough that it was much easier to get off my face."

It's always up in the air whether we'll see Vision reanimated for the third time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though, with nearly endless timelines in the multiverse and Disney's insatiable thirst for more sequels, there's no guarantee Bettany won't have to paint himself once again.