Although he first appeared as just one of the latest crop of golden-skinned English imports to caress the hormones of American filmgoers, Jude Law is steadily proving that his talents lie beyond his ability to smolder seductively in front of the camera. Since 1995, when Law made the transition from British soap opera to Broadway via Sean Mathias' Indiscretions (in which he co-starred with Kathleen Turner), his work has increasingly garnered favorable notice from critics and moviegoers alike. Born in London on December 29, 1972, Law started acting as a teenager. Before Indiscretions, his most notable role was in Shopping (1994), a British production that gave him both initial recognition and an introduction to his future wife, actress Sadie Frost (the couple has two children). After the critical and commercial success of Indiscretions, Law began finding more work in film, starring as Claire Danes' boyfriend in I Love You, I Love You Not (1997) and as the genetically privileged man who sells his identity to Ethan Hawke in Gattaca (1997). Also in 1997, Law took on the plum role of Alfred Lord Douglas (or Bosie), Oscar Wilde's volatile lover in Wilde. Although none of these films received unanimously positive critical (or box-office) attention, they did help to further establish Law as an actor to be taken seriously. Law followed them with a small part in Bent (1997) and the more pivotal role of Billy, Jim Williams' hotheaded and ill-fated lover in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997). Following that film, Law went on to make a few smaller films, including Music From Another Room (also starring a still unknown Gretchen Mol) and The Final Cut, in which he played a sinister, deceased version of himself.
In 1999, Law appeared in David Cronenberg's cyberific eXistenZ and completed filming Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, and Cate Blanchett. The film earned widespread acclaim upon its release, much of which was lavished on Law's portrayal of the serially charming and devastatingly superficial Dickie Greenleaf. Law garnered both a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, further cementing his reputation as one of the more promising up-and-coming actors on either side of the ocean.
After a turn as a Russian marksman facing off against a Nazi sniper in Enemy at the Gates (2001), Law returned to sci-fi with his role as love machine Gigolo Joe in Steven Spielberg's eagerly anticipated A.I.
In addition to his acting commitments, Law kept busy with Natural Nylon, the production company he founded with Sadie Frost, Sean Pertwee, Ewan McGregor, and Jonny Lee Miller. In 2002, Law starred alongside film veterans Tom Hanks and Paul Newman in the multiple Oscar-winning Road to Perdition and was on the path to an Oscar once again for his performance in Cold Mountain (2003) with Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger, who took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
After appearing in only two films in as many years, Law was virtually unavoidable in the last third of 2004, with substantial roles in a grand total of six films. First up, he played the title role in the blue-screened sci-fi action flick Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, starring alongside the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and a "resurrected" Laurence Olivier. A month later, he could be found starring in the remake of Alfie as well as in the ensemble cast of David O. Russell's comedy I Heart Huckabees. And before the close of the year, audiences could catch him in Mike Nichols' romantic drama Closer, as Errol Flynn in Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, and providing the voice of the title character in the big-screen adaptation of Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events.
Jude Law's ascent to career peak
British actor Jude Law has enjoyed a colourful and varied career incorporating stage, cinema and even daytime soaps. Until recently, Law, 32, was considered a rarity in the Hollywood set - a happily married man and with an eye for choosing roles that would get him noticed.
The London-born actor realised he wanted to act from an early age, enrolling in part-time theatre school when he was 12.
His first role aged 17 was in the experimental daytime soap Families, which was set in the UK and Australia. After a year he went into theatre, appearing in a number of productions including Pygmalion and Death of a Salesman.
The budding actor was nominated for an outstanding newcomer Olivier Award for his performance in Les Parents Terrible and a Tony Award when he reprised the role for Broadway, where the show was renamed Indiscretions.
By now he was beginning his ascent to big-screen recognition, winning plaudits for his turn as Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas in the biopic Wilde, starring Stephen Fry.
Though his CV was ever-growing, with films such as Gattaca and Existenz, it was his performance as the upper-class Dicky Greenleaf in The Talented Mr Ripley that brought him to mainstream attention.
He received his first Oscar nomination, for best supporting actor, but was beaten by Sir Michael Caine for The Cider House Rules. Other notable films in Law's repertoire include Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition and Steven Spielberg's AI.
In between he found time to set up a production company, Natural Nylon, with pal Ewan McGregor, which produced the film Existenz. Both McGregor and Law have since quit the company and worked on bigger projects.
But as his Hollywood star rose, his private life began to crumble. He married Sadie Frost in 1997 and had three children together, but the relationship broke down in 2003, prompting a media frenzy. The couple finally divorced at the end of 2003, and Law is now in a relationship with actress Sienna Miller.
Law has seven movies either in pre-production or post-production, including Tulip Fever, The Aviator - in which he plays Errol Flynn, and the remake of Alfie, which originally starred Sir Michael Caine. With his name attached to so many films there will be no escaping Law in the coming years as he is cements his name as one of Britain's biggest exports to Hollywood.
Jude Law defends theatre company
Jude Law and Matt Lucas began their careers with the theatre group
Actor Jude Law has teamed up with comic Matt Lucas to attack a "deplorable" Arts Council decision not to fund a youth theatre company.
They said National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT), which launched their careers, is in danger of closing after being denied a £100,000 government grant.
"If the Arts Council cannot see the value of the NYMT's work, we emphatically do," they wrote.
An Arts Council spokeswoman said it did not comment on funding applications.
Law and Lucas criticised the decision in a letter to The Times newspaper, also signed by actor Jonny Lee Miller, Mary Poppins star Laura-Michelle Kelly, ex-Busted guitarist James Bourne and former S Club 7 singer Hannah Spearritt.
"The NYMT has a highly distinguished record of achievement and performance accumulated over the past 28 years," they wrote. "We deplore the decision of the Arts Council."
The theatre company stages workshops, drama courses and productions throughout the UK and it is said to require £50,000 to remain viable.
Its chairman Maggie Semple said an Arts Council-commissioned review initially recommended a "substantial" award for the company.
"They encouraged us to go through this lengthy process," she said. "They commissioned this report, and at the end of all that, 14 months later, they're now saying 'no'."
"If they had told us nine or even six months ago we wouldn't have made the plans that we have," Ms Semple added. "They have irresponsibly led us along."
Jude Law and Sienna Miller move to the countryside
Jude Law and Sienna Miller are moving to the countryside to hide from the media spotlight, her mother has revealed.
The celebrity pair, who are due to wed next year, are reportedly "sick" of living in London and can't wait to settle down together into country life.
The couple, who are living in Jude's swanky Primrose Hill house and are finding the media intrusion increasingly difficult to cope with, will move into their rural hideaway later this year.
Sienna's mother Jo revealed to Britain's Grazia magazine: "The attention they are receiving at the moment is ridiculous and Sienna, especially, is finding it very difficult to deal with.
"It's not as bad for Jude as he has been famous for a long time.
But, as a mother, I feel very protective of Sienna. They plan to move the country."
Jude Law Films In UK To be With Sienna Miller
LAW STAYS IN LONDON TO STAY CLOSE TO BELLE
British heart-throb JUDE LAW has signed up to star in a new film shot in London - so he can keep an eye on his party-going fiancee SIENNA MILLER.
The pair were rumoured to have rowed last week (ends18FEB05) after the LAYER CAKE beauty was snapped partying into the early hours of the morning in the British capital while Law was shooting new movie ALL THE KING'S MEN in America.
Now Law will be able to keep Miller, his co-star in 2004 film ALFIE, close by his side after agreeing to appear in ANTHONY MINGHELLA's new film BREAKING AND ENTERING.
A pal says, "He wanted to do it because it is set in London - so he will be close to Sienna."
Jude Law books three different venues for wedding!
Jude Law and Sienna Miller have reportedly booked three different venues for their forthcoming wedding - in a bid to confuse the media.
A source close to the smitten couple, who got engaged on Christmas Day (25.12.05), pair said: "One is in LA, and the other two are island ceremonies - one id in Fiji.
They'll tell friends and family at the last minute."
Last week, Jude said he and Sienna could be engaged for a very long time as he wanted all the media interest in their relationship to die down before they tie the knot.
He said: "We could be engaged for years. If we do wed, it will be well away from the press."
The couple, who met on the set of 'Alfie', announced their engagement last week after months of speculation they were set to marry.
A spokeswoman for the couple said: "It's true, they are engaged. Jude bought Sienna a big cluster diamond ring. They've told their families the news and they're thrilled, as are Jude's kids.
They love Sienna and can't wait for the wedding.
"No date has been set. That will depend on their filming schedules."
Jude - who has three children, Rafferty, Iris and Rudy, with ex-wife Sadie Frost - recently spoke of his love for Sienna, 23, saying she was "extraordinary", while Sienna said she was "the happiest girl in the world" after Jude, 31, proposed.
Law of the land
We last saw him swanning around Italian beauty spots looking impossibly handsome and suave in the Oscar-winning The Talented Mr Ripley.
But actor Jude Law's latest movie role couldn't be more of a contrast. He spends most of his time in the new war epic Enemy At The Gates, unwashed,unshaven and crawling around in mud and slime.
To top it all, the 29-year old star really did suffer for his art after accidentally being hit by shrapnel during filming.
The South London-born actor shrugs off the 'war wound' as "just a scratch" but admits he was genuinely scared on more than one occasion.
"The battle scenes were terrifying," he recalls. "There were dynamite explosions going on all the time. In one scene a lump of shrapnel flew into my head, but it was nothing, just a scratch. A little blood is part and parcel of the experience."
In the movie Law plays Vassili Zaitsev, a young Russian sniper who became a national celebrity and hero for his actions at the Battle of Stalingrad.
Based on a true story, the movie, which opened the Berlin Film Festival, also stars British actors Joseph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz and recounts one of the most bloody and vicious battles of the Second World War.
All three stars were put through their paces to re-enact the brutal scenes in temperatures of -25c near the Polish border, but Law, in particular, didn't hesitate to take on the gruelling schedule.
"This was such a good story and a type of film I'd never been in before," he says. "It was so far removed from my character in Ripley and the beaches of southern Italy."
Law threw himself into the part, not just with a touch of sharp shooting, but also by conducting his own research into the life of the enigmatic young soldier who captured the imaginations of both Russians and Germans.
"Vassili was a simple young man from the Urals who became a soldier and was singled out by the commissars and created into a hero of the people," he explains.
"We certainly know a great deal of his achievements were true and have been documented. What we've done is to look at him as an individual, as a man in the midst of chaos and carnage. The film is really about men being used as pawns. So many men died in so many nasty situations in this siege and it points out not only the scale of the war but the loss of human life at the most personal level."
His dedication to the role is further example of an actor who is always prepared to go the extra mile. When he played a disabled man in the movie Gattica, he refused to walk during the entire shoot and last year he learned to sail and play the saxophone for his role as Dickie Greenleaf in Ripley.
Yet the star is as much singled out for his stunning good looks as his commitment to his profession. Earlier this month he was voted Britain's Best-Dressed man by GQ magazine but the unassuming actor takes such accolades with a pinch of salt.
"At least they're not telling me I'm hideously ugly," he smiles, "but I would prefer it if people would focus more on the work."
Part of the reason Law doesn't get too carried away with the constant praise is his happy family life.
He's married to actress Sadie Frost who, four months ago, gave birth to their second child Iris. The couple also have Rafferty, four and Fin, 10, who is Sadie's son by former Spandau Ballet star Gary Kemp.
"I'm happiest at home hanging out with the kids," he smiles. "Having a family has been my saving grace because I don't work back to back on anything or I'd drive myself to an early grave with guilt and worry for my family, whom I'd never see."
Law says he'll never uproot his family from London to live in LA and he and Frost have managed to combine their successful acting careers with running their own production company Natural Nylon.
Formed with their good friends Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller and Sean Pertwee, the company has a number of movie projects in the pipeline and will also produce plays in the West End over the next two years.
Even his forthcoming role in the new Steven Spielberg sci-fi movie A.1 isn't enough it seems to tempt this resolutely down-to-earth star away from his roots.
"London is my home," he states simply. "I know what's right and wrong here and it's nice to have somewhere familiar to go back to."
Jude Law Is 'Breaking And Entering' For Minghella
Jude Law is to star in Anthony Minghella's Breaking and Entering, according to Variety.
Law is to play Will, a London architect in personal and professional crisis whose life collides with that of a young immigrant.
Shooting stars in April, and will mark the first time Minghella has directed one of his own original screenplays since his feature debut, Truly Madly Deeply, in 1991.
Law of Attraction
With six films out this fall, 'Alfie' star Jude Law is everywhere.
Walk into a multiplex over the next several weeks and chances are good that Jude Law will be on one of the screens. The handsome British import has no less than six films either in theaters or soon slated for release: "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," "I (Heart) Huckabees," "Alfie," "The Aviator" and "Closer." He can even be heard as the voice of the storyteller in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events."
Sitting down for an interview in a quiet Park Avenue hotel suite, Law, 31, is famished. Bypassing a plate of fresh fruit, he pulls a small can of Pringles from the minibar and proceeds to indulge in several minutes of crunchy bliss.
"Why limit yourself?" he queries, between bites.
"There was a different sort of motivation behind each (film). Each director had a different vision. I just couldn't resist. I'd have kicked myself if I'd turned down 'I (Heart) Huckabees' or any of them."
So what can audiences expect from this two-time Oscar nominee? In "Sky Captain," he plays an ace fighter pilot who sweeps Gwyneth Paltrow off her feet. In "Huckabees," from "Three Kings" director David O. Russell, he is a rising star at a chain of retail stores. In Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator," he portrays the dashing Errol Flynn opposite Leonardo DiCaprio's Howard Hughes. And he's a cheating lover in Mike Nichols' "Closer."
In "Alfie," an update of the 1966 film that launched Michael Caine's career, he plays a playboy who recklessly toys with the hearts of pretty Manhattanites.
For an actor who's mostly played supporting roles over the past seven years, a transition is in the works. It began with his heartfelt performance as a Confederate deserter making his way home to his beloved in last year's Civil War drama, "Cold Mountain," which earned him his second Oscar nomination. (His first was for his supporting role as a rich playboy in "The Talented Mr. Ripley.")
In previous roles, Law played mostly rogues, hoodlums and even a scheming male prostitute (in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"). But his recent characters share a certain irresistibility, charm and underlying vulnerability.
Law insists that the leading roles he has accepted of late are ones of substance, dimension and texture. "I certainly didn't step into 'Sky Captain' thinking this is my first dashing lead," he says with his distinctive south London accent. "I just liked the idea of a clean cut, kind of straight up comic book hero that Joe was. I liked the challenge of playing Alfie because you are for the first 30 minutes, for all intents and purposes, seduced by him, his world, and willing to put up with his reprehensible behavior and opinions before you see the cracks in his faux finish."
Taking on an iconic screen character like Alfie might have scared off other actors but not Law. The key, he explains, was to make the character his own. "I'd have made a mistake if I tried to be Michael playing Alfie," he says. "I had to be Jude playing Alfie and discover Alfie for myself."
He chose not to ask his friend Caine for advice.
"He's an unbelievably generous, enthusiastic, positive, spirited man and he had nothing but encouragement and compliments," he says of knighted actor. "He didn't offer any advice; he simply was excited for me."
Law says he and director Charles Shyer ("Father of the Bride") discussed the original film occasionally as well as the play on which it was based, but the goal was to create a piece that stood on its own. The biggest difference is that the updated version is set in New York instead of London.
Alfie Elkins is a handsome chauffeur who juggles various girlfriends, including a married woman and a single mother, without emotional attachment. A philosophical womanizer, Alfie breezes through life without responsibility or care. He shares his various chauvinistic opinions, which he calls his "creeds," with the audience in asides to the camera throughout the film just as Caine did 38 years ago. While endearing at first, Alfie gets in over his head when he seduces the girlfriend of his best friend, then moves in with a neurotic party girl while dating an older businesswoman who gives him a taste of his own medicine.
Law got a chance to work with a bevy of talented actresses on the film, including Oscar winners Susan Sarandon and Marisa Tomei. He calls Sarandon "the ace in our back pocket" who "raised the entire picture." Tomei, he recalls, "liked to improvise."
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the movie for Law happened a few months after it wrapped when he got a chance to watch Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and former Eurythmics member Dave Stewart record five songs for the film's soundtrack at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London.
"Joining in and mucking about was really great," says Law, who played a little piano during one of the sessions. "Mick's influence and his and Dave's work has elevated the picture."
The original screen version of "Alfie" was groundbreaking in that it showed the consequences of male chauvinism and dealt with the taboo subject of abortion. Those same issues are tackled in the new "Alfie" within a modern framework.
"It's as truthful today as it was 40 years ago," says Law. "The challenge was seeing if we could breathe that life back into it with the kind of anvil around our neck of stepping into the role that defined Michael Caine."
(At this point in the interview, Law has run out of chips and begins rummaging through the suite looking for something else to nibble on. He avoids the fruit.)
"We're planning on doing a film, 'Sleuth,' another remake of one of his movies," he points out, peering inside what turns out to be an empty cabinet. "Harold Pinter is writing it at the moment. We're going to do that together, hopefully in a year or so. I'm really looking forward to working with him."
Asked whether he would like to have a career like Caine's, Law's blue eyes light up. "Longevity is what it's all about," he says, smiling. "It's not about who earns how much money. It's as much about finding roles that interest me and somehow sustaining that interest with the audience."
He recalls watching the late Sir John Gielgud in 1991's "Prospero's Books," and thinking how much the celebrated English actor was able to bring to that retelling of "The Tempest."
"He had pretty much done everything in his career and was still kind of pushing the boundaries and trying something new and being incredibly brave," Law says. "I just thought, God if I can be doing that when I'm 80, it would be incredible."
Law sees himself entering his potentially most productive decade and revels in it. "I'm enjoying the intensity of this time," he says. "Beyond that, I don't know. The idea of dipping in and out of movies in my old age sounds kind of intriguing. I've always loved the more mature roles that Shakespeare wrote. I would love to keep my foot in the theater and try to explore those roles one day."
"Of course, that could all change," he adds with a hearty laugh. "I may find a little bar on the beach somewhere and be perfectly happy there."
The downside to his ever-increasing popularity are the paparazzi who seem to follow him everywhere. The interest in Law has only heightened since he divorced his wife, actress-producer Sadie Frost, last year. He subsequently began dating his "Alfie" co-star Sienna Miller.
Law is tight-lipped about his relationship with the 22-year-old American beauty, other than to say she is "a brilliant actress" with whom he would "love to work with again." In the meantime, he is trying to maintain a close relationship with his three children -- Rafferty, 8, Iris, 4 and Rudy, 2 -- who live in London with their mother.
"I don't know if I'd know about Lemony Snicket had it not been for my 8-year-old son who asked me to read the book to him," he says. "I love telling stories to my kids. It's one of my deepest pleasures -- reading to them at bedtime."
Law tries to keep his children out of the limelight. He says he won't be bringing them to the "Lemony Snicket" premiere. Instead, he says he likely will take his oldest son to see the movie at a later time and quietly watch from the back row.
Jude Law on "Closer" and Being Named the Sexiest Man Alive
What do "Closer," "Alfie," "Lemony Snicket's," "I Heart Huckabees," "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," and "The Aviator" all have in common? Jude Law, or as People magazine now refers to him: the 'Sexiest Man Alive.' Sure, he's handsome. And talented? There's no disputing the man has what it takes. Whether it's playing a womanizing cad, saving lives as a dashing pilot, or, as in the case of "Closer," simply playing a flawed human being in search of the ideal love, Law doesn't merely get by on his charm and good looks. No, he seems to get by despite his almost overwhelmingly handsome features. With six movies released in a matter of just a few months, Law's just hoping audiences don't tire of seeing his dashing mug on the big screen.
Jude Law has the distinction of being the only actor I've ever become tongue-tied interviewing. While asking Law about his work in "Sky Captain," he'd answer my questions and I'd completely space out on what he was talking about. It's the eyes, I swear it is. Even his co-stars say there's something almost hypnotic about him. Speaking to People, Law's "Cold Mountain" love interest Nicole Kidman said, "His warmth is what makes him sexy, and it radiates through his eyes." Thank you Nicole Kidman. I feel vindicated.
Getting back to the topic at hand - Law's role in "Closer" - here's what one of the busiest actors on earth had to say about working on "Closer" and working with director Mike Nichols. Law also provides an update on a potential "Sky Captain" sequel, shares his thoughts on "Alfie," and talks about being labeled the Sexiest Man Alive:
INTERVIEW WITH JUDE LAW ('Dan'):
What about the source material attracted you to this movie? Had you seen the play before working on the film?
I saw the play when Clive [Owen] was in it and I saw it again in the West End. I'd seen Patrick [Marber's] first play, "Dealer's Choice," and I was also a big fan of Patrick's work prior to that with "Alan Partridge" and "The Day Today," and I was just desperate to work with him. Then, to have a call from Mike Nichols who was working on Patrick's script was just a team made in heaven, really.
What did you like about the script?
I liked its honesty. I liked the fact that there was such a condensed arc of a journey for each and everyone, that there was an opportunity for each and everyone to show just about everything - vulnerability, strength, anger, innocence, cynicisms. And I just liked the words. I think the words walk a very, very fine line of being at times, being very much sort of very, very dramatic and other times unbelievably realistic. Personally, to me that's what it's all about - great words. I like great writing, and it was clear that this was great writing.
Would you say these characters are a little vicious?
I don't think that they’re vicious. What you underestimate is what you don’t see. It’s a condensed version of four years in these people lives. In between these moments of falling in love and splitting up, there’s an awful lot of, as we all experience, happiness and joy and you can’t underestimate that. It’s an amalgamation of the high points, the dramas of life. I remember Mike describing [it] once and I think if you do look back say 10 years ago, you talk about a relationship, you say, “Well, yeah, I met her at this garden party and anyway, four years later we split up.” You don’t necessarily go through that whole four years of memories, how you met, how they split up. So I think to call them vicious is very unfair unless, indeed, we’re all vicious, which maybe we are.
Your character sets up Clive Owen’s character, Larry. Isn’t it vicious the way he traps Larry?
I’m not saying they’re not vicious. I’m just saying that just to accuse them of being vicious and nothing else is not [fair]. They’re not just vicious people. There are vicious acts, indeed.
So why do you think he does that?
It’s certainly not malicious. He doesn’t know who this guy is. He does it as a whim.
Is he trying to embarrass Julia Roberts’ character?
I think it’s fate playing evil tricks. I think it’s as simple as him passing time, and it’s very clear that this woman is on his mind. He dips into what he knows about, which is her name and her haunts and her interests.
What were rehearsals like?
It was an opportunity to get to know each other, really. There were a lot of conversations that kind of came out of the script that sort of branched off. It was a process of learning to understand the piece, understand Mike's overall view of the piece, understand each other's opinions, stirring questions, share experiences, listen to music.
Did you fill in the missing years that are skipped over in "Closer?"
From the beginning, I think, I remember Mike saying, "You've got to look at it like this: boy meets girl, boy meets girl, boy meets girl, boy meets boy, girl meets boy ..." That's the structure of the piece. We filled in all the in-between parts. I think the opening sequence with Dan and Alice is incredibly romantic, and I'd love to have a day like that. And same with [Clive Owen and Julia Roberts' meeting]. What it turned into is a wonderful moment.
What makes working with director Mike Nichols so special?
Personally, what struck me when I first met him was obviously, you go to meet someone like Mike who has achieved and created so much and he comes with such generous wisdom. He’s someone who’s experienced and accumulated a huge amount of experience and understanding of the world. And then sort of holds reverence with it. He sort of takes you into his world very abrasively. And actually, going with what Natalie [Portman has] said about [being a mix of] adult and child, he’s absolutely the perfect example of that. He has [an] impish humor and outlook on life. He also has a deep sort of sensitive understanding of life. He’s fun to be around and he’s so inspiring. It’s a great mix.
Can you pick a favorite scene from the film that involves the other actors?
I think Clive's scene with Julia where he comes back from New York is amazing because it's such an intimate piece. Of course it's probably obvious, but none of us were there when the others were doing their thing, so I knew the scene and I love that scene, but it blew away all my expectations. I think it's absolutely brilliant. And I think Natalie's amazing in the scene when I come home and dump her. It absolutely broke my heart on the day [of shooting] and more so when I saw it back.
One of your other movies, “Alfie,” was just released a few weeks ago. What do you think of that movie’s reception?
Gosh, lots of things. Critically, I was thrilled that people seemed to get it. The irony was that in England it got really bad reviews and it stayed at No. 1 for like two weeks, three weeks. Here, we got fantastic reviews and no one went to see it. I mean, the fact that they moved the date into the path of "The Incredibles" to me was utter nonsense. Why they did that, I have no idea.
You've got to believe in the things you do in the moment and try to get from the moment enough of a sense of achievement and self-pride. And you can't kind of get beaten down if it's [not well-received]. I think it's a very cynical world if a film's life is all about an opening weekend and how much money it makes. I'm sure [there’s] a list the length of the red states of great films that never made any money that are still [popular]. And I'm very proud of it. I did it for very personal reasons. And I'm proud of what I got from it, what I learned from it. It's not to say there wasn't a little dusting down [mimes dusting himself off] the day after. “Well, I guess I'll pick myself up. But so be it. Hey, I've got ‘Closer’ coming out.”
Will there be another "Sky Captain"?
Yeah. I mean, there might be. I don't know. I don't really plan that far ahead. Obviously I'm here with this film and I'm in rehearsals for another. I'm in rehearsals for "All the King's Men."
Is being named the "Sexiest Man Alive" a welcome accolade or a burden?
I think it's a bit of both, really. There's been nasty things written and nice things written. I choose not to read any because then you have to believe both. And as I said…never believe anything you read in the press. Oh, I said that to the wrong people.
Matt Damon says you ran a better campaign.
Yeah, I put a lot of time in it.
Interview with "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" Star, Jude Law
The San Diego Comic Con has become the place to generate buzz for upcoming movies and TV shows. Studios realize if the 70,000+ hardcore fans who attend the event like what they see, the word of mouth campaign can create a blockbuster hit. It’s no wonder then that Paramount Pictures brought “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” to the Con.
Giant 70’ robots greeted fans on the way into the San Diego Convention Center, the “Sky Captain” booth was a big draw in the main exhibit hall, and “Sky Captain” stars Jude Law, Giovanni Ribisi, and Bai Ling joined writer/director Kerry Conran and producer Jon Avnet on stage in the 6,500 seat auditorium to get the crowd pumped up about the upcoming September 17, 2004 release.
Before taking the stage, I sat down with Law to talk about this very unusual film (I’ve seen it and it’s definitely a unique moviegoing experience).
INTERVIEW WITH JUDE LAW:
You went from playing a robot in a Spielberg film to fighting robots.
What’s more fun?
(Laughing) Goodness. That’s a really hard question because they were such sort of different types of robots. I think for me it’s always been the most recent experience is often the most fun because you just kind of come out of it. I think also this was very much a type of role I really wanted to play at some point in my career. And “AI” came along and was such a kind of curveball, and it was such a sort of unusual experience creating that character, that robot, that it was a permanent sort of taste [or] collaboration with makeup. Whereas with this one is was very much like fitting into a skin that was very familiar, that had a huge backstory that has existed in other forms in other characters whether it’s Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon before and was, therefore, something that I wanted to fit into. Do you see what I mean? So yeah, I suppose “Sky Captain,” but they were both fun.
As Sky Captain, you do a sideways neck crack at the end of the movie. Was that a Gigolo Joe reference?
I do it before, as well, when I drink my Milk of Magnesia. (Laughing) No, it wasn’t but it should be. I’ve got to steal that. A little wink to the Gigolo Joe lovers.
How did you get involved with “Sky Captain?”
I got involved really early on, not as early as Kerry [Conran] obviously. It’s about two years ago and basically Jon [Avnet], who I had met a couple of times before, wanted to show me this teaser trailer. And I was just very simply blown away by this. I didn’t kind of get what he’d already told me about how this guy made it. I loved his references. I thought it was very clear that he was a filmmaker who had an incredible sense of style and rhythm, and his composition was beautiful. And I loved it.
All I got at that early stage was that he’d used pretty advanced and unused technology to create a very retrospective look. And I loved that kind of duality of that. I loved that rather than creating a super-real world or a world of the future, he was going back with advanced technology and it seemed like the right way to do that. But I loved the clear references that were there in that trailer, whether it was Fritz Lang or “Citizen Kane” or “The Third Man,” as Kerry [has] mentioned before. And then I thought, “Well, this is great but where’s the script?” And then he said, “Well, read the script,” and it was clear then that this guy was also an incredibly good writer above and beyond the visual that he was really quick to give me in the teaser and also with the artwork. I mean, this particular poster was also on the front of the script. What was clear was also that at the center was a really great cinematic relationship, which you could put into any genre and it would work. You know, that kind of bickering [relationship]. I always like to call it “African Queen” meets “Buck Rogers,” because you know it’s [that] kind of relationship. If you can create two good characters and a history and a world around them and a dynamic between them, you can put them anywhere and people will want to watch. And there’s the humor in all the obvious kinds of references to world domination and gadgets and gizmos. And I was just eager and keen to get onboard.
What’s interesting is obviously a lot of people want to know was the process hard because of the amount of blue screen we used and was there a sense of disorientation because of the fact. But in fact, Kerry was so clear from the get-go in his own kind of humble, incredibly shy way, so strong with what he knew could be created and was so eager to draw us all into that, that we felt from the get-go that we knew exactly what this was going to become. It was only really until I saw it back a couple of weeks ago finally finished that I realized what a leap of faith we’d all made (laughing). I was watching it thinking, “God, there was nothing there. How the f*** did we know? How did we know?” And we really didn’t. But what was clear was this guy’s world. And as I’ve probably said over and over again, his references were really strong. And so it was just a matter of kind of going along with that.
was helmed by a first-time writer/director. That is quite a leap of faith for you.
Yeah, but again, it’s interesting. First of all, I really enjoy the opportunity of changing the kind of challenge. The film I had done just before this was “Cold Mountain” so the idea of kind of going from extreme locations, real locations, real temperatures, to a world in which we have to create everything and imagine everything was to me an ideal kind of way of learning [or] reinventing the process of what it is to create a character, what it is to complete a role within a whole piece. I always think experience obviously counts for a lot and success obviously counts for a lot, but at the same time, if you meet someone who is clear and collaborative and brave and talented then you want to work with them just as much as you want to work with someone who is a tried and tested genius, you know?
How close was the teaser trailer you first saw to the finished film?
Well interestingly enough, it’s kind of like the first six minutes of the film and very close, very close still. A lot of that first shot of the spinning clock, you know the clock with the two statues that kind of spiral in as the zeppelin comes in? A lot of that. Obviously it’s evolved from that but it comes goes right through. The initial introduction of Sky Captain, we stuck to the idea that [the voice you first hear] he is a friend of his, that’s why the first look is this hidden thing because he kind of liked the idea of [not wanting] to show who his friend was so it’s just a voice. We kind of stuck with that, so it was pretty close.
You also have a producing credit on this. What did you do in that capacity?
Well again, because it was such early days, Jon [Avnet] needed help rallying around a team, because obviously there was no involvement with Paramount at the time, to enable this vision to be realized. I’d been developing stuff on my own back for a couple of years, stuff that’s coming out or about to come out or about to be made. It was also something I was really keen to do because I felt it was a world that I loved very much. It was a world I recognized and felt I could put a lot into and assist with. Whether it was pulling in favors from cast members and friends like Gwyneth [Paltrow] and really making sure they saw the trailer and read the script, or whether it was just being able to sit with someone like Kerry [Conran] and throwing in ideas and know that I wasn’t throwing in ideas that were of a completely different genre.
It was basically my enthusiasm, to be honest, and I wanted to help out as much as I could. What was interesting though was that in the end the part I really played best, I think, as a producer was on set enabling Kerry to do what he needed to do to keep us all running. I think one hard thing with inexperience is recognizing a lot of it is energy. If you have done that sort of film, [then] everyone knows what’s going on and who’s doing what. And on this, of course, we’re all learning so I felt really the best thing I could do on it was to really maintain a kind of relationship on it with all the crew who were as naïve as I was as to what was going on. And making sure that equally Kerry felt everyone was behind him and with him and for him.
It must have been really hard to get the right tone because you’re trying to capture an era of innocence and lack of cynicism.
Well funny enough, first of all that was really in the script so the blueprint was there. Gwyneth and I knew from the get-go exactly what [that was like]. We just kind of got that tone the first time we read it through. And once we knew it worked, actually we spent the whole time just trying to embellish it. And Kerry kept adding little moments to that. Because we knew more was more actually in this case we could really run with this. The reason we went to Gwyneth was because we knew that she would get that tone and it was important, obviously, that the two of us get it and not fight to find it throughout the making of the piece. The majority of it was there on the page.
Any chance there will be a sequel?
I hope so.
Jude Law: Road to Perdition
What excited you about this film?
Well, when I first read the script I couldn't quite work out which character Sam [Mendes] intended for me, so I was thrilled when I discovered it was Maguire. I knew the character would be a lot of fun to play and it would require a lot of playing on my own. The backdrop is the very much recognizable 30s gangster movie set in Chicago at a time when it was being run by Al Capone. It quickly develops into a road movie and a film about a father and a son... how the father gets the son out of the lifestyle in which he's become embroiled, and also about how he's going to wreak revenge on the people who have put him on the road.
Tell us about playing Maguire...
A lot of him is actually in the way he looks. And Sam and I wanted to achieve a new look. We wanted to work out how to make this guy threatening but also able to melt into the background and seem unthreatening. The idea was that this guy is kind of rodent-like and he can hunt people down, no matter what little evidence or trail he has to go on. So we wanted to give him a rat-like look. We played with the teeth, the fingernails, the hair.... well, the hair's receding anyway, but they took that receding hairline way back. It took ten hours to do it. The hairdresser wore microscopic glasses so she could see each individual follicle, and she cut out individual hairs so it didn't become a bald pate but had weasily strands left to stick to my head!
What about being part of such a great ensemble cast?
When you're in fantastic company it's incredibly exciting, because you get the opportunity to watch people you admire at work, and you can learn so much from that. The mood on the set with that kind of talent is usually tremendously rewarding because it's a good atmosphere. Good actors don't create tension. Everyone is there to work and work hard. And a lot of it boils down to Sam Mendes. He's an incredible leader. He has an amazing ability to reign everyone in to focus on the job in hand and to focus on the vision he has of the film.
Jude Law: Enemy at the Gates
What do you think of your character, Vassily?
He is symbolic of Russia at the time, but he is also an everyman in any time, in any conflict. It's the idea of this individual being taken from his home and put into a conflict, a war situation where it's life or death. He transcends the period of the movie and is as relevant today as he is then. People in the past have been plucked from their homeland and told to fight for the greater good without being told what the greater good is. In that sense, Vassily is quite the essential everyman in battle. His journey from that to become a soul-sapped war veteran was a hell of a challenge.
What preparation did you do?
I underwent a lot of training to be an authentic sniper. I studied camouflage, military approach, and how to handle the weapon, and then I arrived here, put on the fatigues and realised that none of that had anything to do with anything. It was good for my brain but once I got out there and met the young Germans and Russians who all had stories of their relatives in this battle. You heard it from the heart, you saw it in their eyes. Then I got used to the fact that I couldn't feel my fingers and my feet. That for me was the essence of the battle. It was nothing to do with what the history books say, whose right or wrong. It was all about people suffering, really, and the intensity of friendship and relationships, and love under the strain of war.
Was Vassily really such a sharpshooter?
There was a story in his memoirs that he shot a wolf in the eye from over half a mile away. He was an incredible marksman. I've met guys who said that was possible. They could read the wind, the levitation of the land, how the temperature would affect the speed of the bullet. An incredible gift, but a fatal gift, a gift that is turned against him, almost. It was a God-given talent that was stirred by the Devil. He had to live with the faces of all those people he killed.