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Inside Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany's marriage - how 9/11 brought them together

The Top Gun: Maverick star wed Paul in 2003

jennifer connelly paul bettany
Jenni McKnight
Jenni McKnightUS Lifestyle Editor
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Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany began their romance in a rather unusual way as they became engaged before they even officially began dating.

READ: Jennifer Connelly reveals 'special' moment with Prince William at Top Gun premiere

The Top Gun: Maverick star met her husband on the set of their 2001 film A Beautiful Mind and was immediately impressed with him. The couple became friends first as Jennifer was in a relationship with actor Josh Charles at the time.

WATCH: Jennifer Connelly stars with Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

"I remember meeting him at the first read-through," she told Entertainment Tonight in November 2015. "I thought, 'Hmm, he's really good, that guy.'"

Paul, meanwhile, admitted that when he first saw Jennifer – who won Best Supporting Actress at the 2002 Oscars for her role in the film – he was blown away by her striking beauty.

MORE: Jennifer Connelly talks candidly about the pressures of ageing in Hollywood

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"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.'"

Romance soon blossomed for Jennifer and Paul, with the Labyrinth actress revealing to ET how the WandaVision star won her heart. "He started playing guitar and it was all over," she said.

jennifer connelly paul bettany 2003© Photo: Getty Images

Jennifer and Paul met in 2001

Paul, however, had no doubt that the couple would end up together, previously telling People: "I knew from the first moment I saw her we were meant for each other."

Sadly, it was a global tragedy that made Paul realize he was in love with Jennifer as he revealed the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, left him fearing for her safety.

Speaking to Larry King in 2015 to promote his directorial debut Shelter, Paul opened up about the couple's relationship and revealed that following 9/11, he proposed to Jennifer before they even went on a first date.

READ: Paul Bettany reveals why he missed out on The Crown role 

jennifer connelly paul bettany© Photo: Getty Images

The couple quietly wed on New Year's Day 2003

"You know what happened, Larry? What happened, Larry, was September the 11th," he said. "Like so many people's lives, in that moment, mine was changed forever. I spent two days trying to call this woman that I sort of barely knew."

Paul added: "I remember very clearly thinking to myself, 'What are you doing?' I realized I was in love. So, I finally got her on the phone and said, 'I'm coming over, and let's get married'. And that's really what happened. We had never dated."

The couple went on to tie the knot on New Year's Day in Scotland in 2003 in an intimate ceremony in front of just family members.

jennifer connelly paul bettany kai© Photo: Getty Images

Jennifer and Paul with her eldest son, Kai

Paul and Jennifer are now the proud parents of three children, son Stellan, 19, and daughter Agnes, 11. Jennifer also has a son, Kai, 25, from her relationship with photographer David Dugan, who Paul helped raise.

Reflecting on their 21-year relationship, Paul recently told People: "Marriage and children changed my life. It really altered who I was and what I saw as my goals."

He added that the moments he cherishes most are "when I catch myself and realize the five of us are laughing together. And there is nobody on earth with whom I could be having a better time".

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