Featured InterviewNew York City - Whether you remember first seeing his face on screen in "Gattaca" (1997) - Law’s first major big screen role - or his revealing performance on Broadway in "Indiscretions" (1995), Jude Law is someone you don’t easily forget. And it’s not just his beauty that is captivating. The man has style, charisma and oozes sensuality on and off screen. And he has just been named People Magazine’s "Sexiest Man Alive."
The six foot tall, thirty-three year old Brit, who still lives in London, and has no plans to move to the United States, has come a long way from The Youth MusicTheater in London, where he began his theatrical and acting career at age twelve.
In a span of less than five years, Law has been nominated for two Oscars - Best Actor last year for "Cold Mountain" and Best Supporting Actor in 1998 for "The Talented Mr. Ripley;" has become a household name; and has worked opposite myriad A+ list directors - Clint Eastwood in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," Steven Spielberg in "A.I.", David Cronenberg in "eXistenZ," Sam Mendes in "Road to Perdition," Anthony Minghella in both "Ripley" and "Cold Mountain," Mike Nichols in the upcoming "Closer," and Martin Scorsese in the upcoming "The Aviator."
In between all of the work, Law has had time to marry fellow British actress Sadie Frost, have three children, divorce and become romantically involved with another fellow Brit, actress and current co-star in "Alfie," Sienna Miller.
It’s been a busy year for Law. Not one, not two, not three movies coming out within a four month period, rather six. Count ‘em.
In September we were graced with the first, "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," in which he played the title role. It seems that his movies are being released in the order of their box office and critical popularity, too. "Sky Captain" was a huge stinker at the box office and received only mildly by critics. It was followed by the mediocre art house sensation, "I Heart Huckabees."
"Alfie" was next, and Law seems proud of his work in that film. He plays the title character, albeit an unlikable, yet at the same time, loveable, cad, a British transplant in NYC who is, well, quite frankly, a whore, content on sowing his wild oats far and wide in the confines of Manhattan - and in the course of the less than two hour movie, which details less than a year in the life of ‘Alfie,’ he sleeps with Marisa Tomei, Susan Sarandon, Jane Krakowski, Nia Long and what many are predicting will soon be the real-life Mrs. Law, Sienna Miller. It seems the only thing Law’s character "Alfie" doesn’t sleep with is a man - yet there is a homoerotic moment in the film when "Alfie" has a random, life altering encounter in a men’s room with a wise old man, played by the incomparable Dick Latessa.
For anyone old enough to recall, yes, Law stepped into the shoes of one of England’s best actors, Michael Caine, who originated the role of "Alfie" on the big screen in 1966. It was the role that catapulted Caine to fame and which earned him his first Oscar nomination.
I had the opportunity to sit with Law four times in the past couple of months. Twice in New York City, twice in Los Angeles. Our first encounter in NYC was at breakfast, the other for lunch, each time in a suite at The Essex House overlooking Central Park. And during both chats, Law opened up about not only his movie career but his family and future.
"What’s it all about, ‘Alfie?" I ask, poking fun at the now classic opening song from the original film - and soon to be classic soundtrack, written, performed and produced by Mick Jagger.
"I think it’s funny," he says the first time we meet. Law is relaxed, wearing a black form fitting, long sleeved v-neck pullover, revealing a tuft of dark brown chest hair - the hair on his head dyed blonde for an upcoming movie role. "I have six movies opening during a four month span but I haven’t had anything in theaters since ‘Cold Mountain’ last year. It reminds me of an expression we have in London. ‘You wait for an hour at the corner for the bus and none come. Then, within two minutes, five pull up.’ I certainly didn’t plan for these movies to come out within weeks of each other. It just happened. I shot some of them more than two years ago. It’s that they are - all - just being released now. I have to look at it positively rather than negatively. I chose each of the movies because to me they all offered something different. I hope people recognize and enjoy the variety rather than think of it as a bombardment."
Law is dressed in a corduroy jacket, jeans and is sipping from a cup of tea, the second time we meet in New York. He is, as usual, dressed impeccably. So, it is not hard to start the conversation off on a fashion note, especially since Law’s "Alfie" is somewhat of a fashion queen.
While "Alfie" was a box-office bomb, too, Law takes a month’s hiatus from the big screen, anticipating his three films that finish out 2004. Law narrates the "Lemony Snicket" movie, starring Jim Carrey. After that, it’s "Closer," then "The Aviator."
The two times I speak with Law in Los Angeles, we are at The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Law is a little perturbed that the first three movies of his released this year weren’t received even remotely how he and the studios expected. "I think I gave my best in each of the six performances," says Law.
Everyone seems hopeful that the final three Law films will be grand slams.
Law, whose smile will melt anyone’s heart who happens upon it, a comfortable and self-admitted metrosexual, has played an array of characters including many gay and homoerotic roles during his reign in Hollywood. His first major gay role was that of Oscar Wilde’s lover in "Wilde." He followed that up with the role of Kevin Spacey’s hooker boyfriend in "Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil." However, any movie that Law has starred, it is his beauty that seems to hijack the camera. Whether he’s playing an invalid, as in "Gattaca," or murderer of robots in "A.I.," or mountain man in "Cold Mountain," it’s not just Law’s immense talent of acting that mesmerize. It’s a combination of exquisite acting and the ease with which he mugs for the camera that has earned Law the respect he has today in Hollywood, by fans and colleagues alike. "I find it flattering that some gay men find me attractive. It could be worse," he laughs, revealing his modesty by answering ‘some’ instead of ‘gay men’ in general.
"It’s true to say that we’re in a very vane, a very appearance conscious world nowadays," Law. "People on the whole, especially in the world of ‘Alfie,’ going to clubs, are hugely concerned about how they look. And ‘Alfie’ sees that as a very important part of how he makes himself feel good and indeed how he hopes to go out and not entrap, but how he sees it as part of his device to entice people into him. As for me, I just think you have to look your best. If you don’t, what’s the point of going out of the house? I am not saying you have to be outfitted in Burberry, Armani or Prada from head to toe, or at all. But, to feel good is divine and I don’t feel good unless I think I look good. And by good, I mean presentable. Unsloppy. Civilized."
Based on the award-winning play by Patrick Marber, "Closer" the movie is directed by Academy, Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Mike Nichols, ("Angels In America" the movie). It is a biting, honest look at modern relationships. Set in contemporary London, "Closer" tells the story of the chance meetings, instant attractions and casual betrayals of four strangers – Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts.
In "Closer," Law plays Dan, whose occupation is obituary writer. He falls in love with Julia Roberts’ character. Yet Roberts’ character marries the Clive Owen character, still carrying on in a duplicitous, sexual relationship with Dan. "That should tell you how dark and wild the movie is," says Law. "It is dark, but Mike Nichols outdoes himself with this. ‘Angels In America’ was dark, too. But it told a powerful story. This story will grip anyone who gives it a chance." And many are betting that "Closer" will be Law’s shot at his third Academy Award nomination.
In "Lemony Snicket" we don’t actually ‘see’ Law. He is "Lemony" who is only the film’s narrator. "That was a lot of fun to do. I have always wanted to do a film for my children," he says smiling. "Although, it too is a dark movie. Think ‘Harry Potter’ meets Tim Burton."
Finally, we get to see Law in Martin Scorsese’s "The Aviator," opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. While DiCaprio plays the title character, Howard Hughes, Law is his pal, actor Errol Flynn. "I pretty much have a cameo in ‘The Aviator,’ but it was a lot of fun going back in time, in that Golden Age of Hollywood. And being directed by and in the presence of Martin Scorsese was a free, first class lesson in acting."
First class is the best way I can think of describing Law, whom each time we met, was courteous, engaging, charming, sexy and most of all just himself. First Class. And People seems to agree.