Oscar Profile #513: Jude Law

Born December 29, 1972 in London, England, (David) Jude Law was born the son of Margaret and Peter Law, schoolteachers, his father later becoming the youngest headmaster in London. The future star made his acting debut with the National Youth Music Theatre in 1987 at the age of 14 and his TV debut the following year. He made his film debut in 1994’s Shopping opposite future wife Sadie Frost.

Law made his Broadway debut in 1995’s Indiscretions opposite Kathleen Turner for which he earned a Tony nomination. He married Frost, with whom he would have three children in 1997, the same year he gave memorable on-screen performances in Bent, Wilde (as Alfred Douglas), Gattaca, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In 1998, he had starring roles in Music from Another Room and Final Cut and in 1999, he starred in eXistenZ and gave an acclaimed supporting performance in The Talented Mr. Ripley for which he received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.

In 2000, the actor was in Enemy at the Gates, in 2001, A.I. Artificial Intelligence (earning a second Golden Globe nomination), in 2002, Road to Perdition, and in 2003, Cold Mountain for which he received a third Golden Globe nomination and a second Oscar nomination. He would be divorced from Frost that same year.

Law’s output for the remainder of the decade remained strong with performances in I Heart Huckabees, Alfie (in Michael Caine’s old role), Closer, and The Aviator (as Errol Flynn) in 2004; All the King’s Men and The Holiday in 2006; Sleuth (again in an old Michael Caine role with Caine in Laurence Olivier’s old role) in 2007; and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus and Sherlock Holmes (as Dr. Watson to Robert Downey Jr.’s Holmes) in 2009. He would have a fourth child with model Samantha Burke in 2009.

In 2010, Law starred in Repo Men; in 2011, Contagion, Hugo and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, in 2012, Anna Karenina and Guardians of the Galaxy; in 2013, Dom Hemingway, and in 2014, The Grand Budapest Hotel. He had a fifth child with Catherine Harding in 2015 and in 2019 married second wife Phillipa Coan with whom he had a sixth child.

Law’s most high profile role in recent years has been in the TV series, The Young Pope and its sequel, The New Pope, but he has also kept busy on screen in such films as 2018’s Vox Lux and Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindelwald and 1919’s Captain Marvel and A Rainy Day in New York.

As busy as ever, Law will soon be seen in the upcoming films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3, Sherlock Holmes 3, a new version of Peter Pan in which he plays Captain Hook, and the TV series, The Third Day.

Jude Law remains an acting force at 47.

ESSENTIAL FILMS

THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (1999), directed by Anthony Minghella

Patricia Highsmith’s celebrated novel was successfully filmed in 1960 by French director René Clemént as Purple Noonwith Alain Delon as the moocher and Maurice Ronet as the millionaire friend whose life he assumes after killing him. Matt Damon and Jude Law had those roles in Anthony Minghella’s even better 1999 Hollywood film. Law, already a sensation in early screen roles in Bent, Wilde, and Gattaca, cemented his popularity, receiving his first Oscar nomination for his performance. He lost to Michael Caine, the actor whose roles in Alfie and Sleuth he would soon reprise.

A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001), directed by Steven Spielberg

Stanley Kubrick worked for two decades to bring the film version of Brian Aldiss’ short story, “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” to life before turning the reins over to Steven Spielberg. Spielberg’s film about a robotic boy (Haley Joel Osment) who longs to become human to life is a this modern Pinocchio with a human mother rather than a human puppeteer as his inspiration for wanting to become human. Osment and Frances O’Connor as his “mother” are sensational and so is Law as “Gigolo Joe”, a robotic prostitute. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance but missed out on an Oscar nomination.

COLD MOUNTAIN (2003), directed by Anthony Minghella

Law’s second film for his The Talented Mr. Ripley director proved just as fortuitous as his first. He was Oscar nominated again, this time in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of a wounded soldier making a perilous trek back to his Cold Mountain, North Carolina home in the waning days of the Civil War. Although some scenes were filmed in North Carolina, the bulk of the film was made in Romania where the Carpathian Mountains double for the Appalachian Mountains. The film was nominated for seven Oscars and won one for Best Supporting Actress Renée Zellweger whose hillbilly character was heavily criticized.

ANNA KARENINA (2012), directed by Joe Wright

Filmed numerous times, the definitive version of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel remains the 1935 version, the second of two version of the story starring Greta Garbo with Fredric March as her lover, Freddie Bartholomew as her son, and Basil Rathbone as her cuckhold husband. Director Joe Wright’s muse Keira Knightley from his films of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement is no Garbo and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is no Fredric March, but Jude Law comes close to matching Basil Rathbone’s fiery portrayal of Karenin in this version which also features Matthew Macfayden, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander in prominent roles..

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2014), directed by Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson’s most accessible film is populated by a starry cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Roman, Tom Wilkinson, and Jude Law. Law plays the younger version of Wilkinson, the author of a story about the once renowned hotel that was devastated by war. The film is a visual treat from start to finish, and each actor is given their moment or moments to shine. The film goes back and forth between 1932, 1968, and 1985. Law is terrific as usual in scenes set in 1968.

JUDE LAW AND OSCAR

  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – nominated – Best Supporting Actor
  • Cold Mountain (2003) – nominated – Best Actor

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