“I’m only wanted by directors for the image I give off, and it makes me angry. I always wanted to be an actor and not a beauty pageant winner.”
“I suppose I’m intrigued with the bad traits of society, because I’m a part of society, and the bad traits pose the dangerous questions for our future.”
Jude Law burst into the Hollywood spotlight with his role in 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and has since worked with directors such as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Oscar nominations and a host of other critical considerations have followed in his wake. Kids today might know Law best as John Watson in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, and perhaps soon people might think of him as Marvel’s space hero Mar-Vell after the much awaited Captain Marvel comes out. So, how did this star from across the pond get his start? What makes him tick? Read on for 42 talented facts about Jude Law.
42. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em
Law will be yet another thespian joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with his role as Mar-Vell/Walter Lawson in the upcoming Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson. Law will serve as the mentor to Larson’s character Carol Danvers, a US Air Force pilot whose DNA is fused with an alien’s after a plane crash.
41. Bromance Returns
Although there’s hasn’t been much buzz yet, Law is confirmed to be returning for a third installment in the Sherlock Holmes franchise, which is planned to be released on December 25, 2020. While Law and Robert Downey Jr. are confirmed, it is not yet known if director Guy Ritchie will return.
Prior to Hollywood stardom, Law and Ewan McGregor (best known as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars prequel trilogy) were roommates.
Law will play a young Albus Dumbledore in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and has responded to fan questions concerning how Dumbledore’s sexuality will be represented. Author JK Rowling’s announcement that Dumbledore is gay caused a stir among the fanbase, for good and for bad. Law hints that Dumbledore’s sexuality won’t be explicitly shown or implied since Rowling’s writing focuses on “multifaceted” characters, arguing that Dumbledore does not need to be defined by his sexuality: “…what’s brilliant about Jo’s [Rowling’s] writing is how she reveals her characters, peels them to the heart over time.”
38. Middle-Aged Albus
Prior to playing “Young Albus,” Law played the Young Pope in the HBO series of the same name. Small detail, but it’s not lost on Law. He finds it amusing playing a character with “Young” in the name since he’s 45 years old, but also jokes that “the word ‘young’ has to be in every part I play, it’s contractual.”
37. Business is Business
Law and McGregor, along with four others, started a film production company called Natural Nylon in 1997. The purpose of Natural Nylon was to bypass big studios and create “character-driven” films, as opposed to plot driven.
Due to their schedules, Law and McGregor both stepped down from directorship roles at the company, and it did not last long after their departures. Law made his exit in 2003 and McGregor stepped down one year prior. The other founding members of the company kept it going for a time, with some continued input from Law and McGregor, but it ended up folding about a year after Law left.
Law is yet another enviable person who dropped out of school and made it big. Law departed at age 17 to star in the soap opera Families. He describes the experiences as a steep learning curve. He got his own apartment and also had to deal with the late-teen struggle of partying, and then waking up early to get to work.
Law was a fan of the Harry Potter franchise prior to getting his role as young Dumbledore. Law mainly credits this to his kids since they religiously devoured the books and films, and dragged Daddy along.
34. Leading Man
Documentary filmmaker Jeremy Gilley began a campaign in 1998 to create an official World Peace Day on September 21. Law was his greatest “therapist” and “sounding board,” and he eventually accompanied Gilley on a trip to Afghanistan. Law went to the country to “feel, smell and see” it first-hand. He didn’t get involved to persuade politicians but was more focused on the impact his help could have on the ground. He also wanted to give the world an image of Afghanistan that was filled with hope instead of violence. Ultimately, Gilley’s campaign helped get 1.4 million Afghani children vaccinated and led to a UN resolution to support the day of peace. A documentary about the campaign, The Day After Peace, was released at Cannes in 2008.
33. Not Meant To Be
Don’t like Brandon Routh as Superman? What about Jude Law?
Law was approached to play the Man of Steel and was even sent a costume to try on. However, the costume was his biggest reason for turning the role down. Once he suited up and looked in the mirror, the only words on his lips were “no way.”
This wasn’t his only close brush with being a surperhero—Law was also the first choice for the role of Ozymandias in Watchmen, but despite his love for the comic and that character, it never came to fruition. But don’t worry, we’re finally going to get to see a superpowered Law in Captain Marvel!
Getting in shape for a role can be tough, but Law loved doing the opposite. His role in Dom Hemingway required gaining thirteen kilograms (nearly 30 pounds!). Law loved drinking ten cokes a day and eating whatever he wanted. He realized he was balding and gaining weight as he aged, so this was the perfect opportunity to embrace it. However, he also had a confidence boost when he lost the weight after filming wrapped. After the weight loss, he realized he wasn’t aging so badly after all and began to embrace his age more.
Law’s first big role, The Talented Mr. Ripley, also earned him his first Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor in 2000. Law has earned one more nomination since, with a 2004 nomination for Best Actor for his role in Cold Mountain.
Law has five children (from oldest to youngest): Rafferty, Iris, Rudy, Sophia, and Ada.
Three children are with ex-wife, Sadie Frost. One is with model Samantha Burke, the result of a one-night stand. The fifth is with musician Catherine Harding.
While Ada, the youngest, is three, Rafferty, the oldest, is 21, and Jude has commented that it has been tough to strike the right balance of guiding his eldest and letting him be his own man. Rafferty is a model and musician who is present on Instagram like all the kids these days (@rafflaw). As Jude says, he is there if his son asks, but “At the moment, I don’t feel like Raff’s asking.”
29. No Regrets
Law has a tattoo of Beatle lyric, “Sexy Sadie” on his left forearm, which is a reference to his now ex-wife, Sadie Frost.
Law admits that he nearly didn’t take the role that made him a star because he wanted to avoid the “pretty boy” role. The Talented Mr. Ripley proved to be more, but Law is still not too fond of the pretty boy label, since there is the implication that looks are all he has to offer.
27. Big League
Law also saves some love for director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes). Law admires Ritchie’s confidence with directing big-budget movies. Law remarks that some directors find it intimidating, meanwhile Ritchie “eats that stuff for breakfast.”
Hitting his mid-40s has made Law think more about his role within the Law family line. His parents never knew their own grandparents, so Law finds it gratifying to give them grandchildren. He feels like he is on new ground now, and hopes to be able to take the reins of paternal “figurehead” from his dad, since his dad is now in his 70s.
25. Meant to Be
The Young Pope marks Law’s first return to TV since the early 1990s, when he got his start on Families. Time sure flies!
Law broke a rib back in 1999 while filming a murder scene (spoiler) in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Some sources say Law sustained the injury when he fell backwards off a boat, but Law says the injury came directly from a scuffle with co-star Matt Damon: “I did his rib in, he did my rib in…”
Law’s main reason for joining The Young Pope was his reverence for director Paolo Sorrentino. Sorrentino previously won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film for The Great Beauty. Law was in awe of Sorrentino’s ability as a writer, and also thought the show’s political intrigue was interesting: “…surviving the Vatican, and learning to manipulate and orchestrate all those different influences.”
Law walked away from filming The Young Pope with some takeways about the church. Law gained some appreciation for the theatricality of Catholicism, calling it “the birthplace of theatre” due to the costumes and scriptures.
21. Back At It Again
Since stepping away from Natural Nylon, Law has started another production company, Riff Raff. This company seems like it’s off to a better start, securing a production deal with another television production company called Twelve Town.
20. Nailed to the Ground
Despite his business ties to the US, Law hasn’t considering moving himself or his family across the pond. He holds his British identity dear, but more specifically, values his identity as a Londoner. Law says if he were to move at some point in the future, he might move out of London, but moving to the US isn’t likely.
Law has never been very religious, and doesn’t identify with any particular religion. His closest interaction with religion was a period where he was “sort of dipping” into Buddhism and spirituality. Law doesn’t mince his words when he says conservative faith is moving in a direction he finds “distasteful,” pointing to events such as Brexit as proof.
Law’s kids might love social media, but he’s avoided it entirely. Law is actually mostly baffled by the sort of people that audiences flock to on social media, such as the fashionistas and other celebrities. Although Law is a celebrity himself, the level of adoration people have for these figures still confuses him: “I have no desire to be involved.”
17. Three’s Company
Aside from early misses with DC, Law also missed out on an earlier MCU role. He was originally signed on to play villain Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3. However, when Paul Greengrass stepped aside and was replaced by Shane Black, Black decided that he wanted another actor for the role. Well, I’m sure Law’s role in Captain Marvel will be better, although that’s not saying much.
Law doesn’t just have genetics to thank for aging well; he also exercises, favoring gym workouts and boxing five times a week.
15. Busy Day
By the time Law was 14, he was skipping school to watch movies. He would take the train from Lewisham (southern London) to Central London and watch three films back-to-back at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Law would then head home and pretend like he was at school all day. At least it all worked out in the end.
14. Under the Sea
To prepare for his role as a ship captain in the Black Sea, Law spent two days with the Royal Navy, accompanying them on a mission. Law’s experience on a submarine for the mission and for the film is best described as “claustrophobic” due to the tight spaces onboard. However, he says the crew got along fine. Law is sparse with the details of the mission though, maybe he could tell us… but then he’d have to kill us.
13. To Be or Not to Be
Along with forays into TV, Law has also returned to the stage, most notably with the title role in West End’s Hamlet. Director and producer Michael Grandage has commended Law for his awareness to bury himself in the character, in order to rid the audience of any perceptions they have of Law as a Hollywood movie star.
12. Spoken For
After working with Law on Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects, Channing Tatum admitted Law was his man crush. However, Law says he has always had a crush on Robert Downey Jr, whom he describes as a “little Peter Pan.”
11. So Hot Right Now
When Law began dating Sienna Miller, paparazzi unsurprisingly developed an even greater interest in him. Aside from camping outside his house, journalists from News International were convicted of hacking into the phones of Law, Miller and their colleagues.
10. Thanks, Mom and Dad
Prior to dropping out, Law went to school at the National Youth Music Theatre. His name and his looks led the lead administrator to think he was a girl. Founder Jeremy James Taylor remembers pulling Law out of the girls’ dormitory he got assigned to, but upon seeing Law and the six girls getting along: “I felt a bit of a killjoy putting him in with the guys.”
9. Hometown Boys
Law is a Radiohead fan and actually got to work with them, in a sense. He didn’t join them on stage but did the narration for a Greenpeace ad, while the band provided the music. “Everything In Its Right Place” is the soundtrack for a homeless polar bear wandering around London.
Law learned to play the saxophone for his role in The Talented Mr. Ripley, just like his character does. Now that’s commitment!
Law loses some points for being a Tottenham Hotspurs fan, but that’s his choice I guess.
Law is a lifelong fan, and has even been featured on Spurs TV. His only regret about being a Tottenham fan is that his schedule prevents him from seeing many games.
Law’s first name comes from the protagonist of the novel Jude the Obscure. Since his parents were teachers, they probably had a soft spot for Victorian literature.
5. Out in the Open
After the success of The Talented Mr. Ripley, Law thought he was ready for being in the public eye. Reality kicked in when somebody showed him a tabloid picture of him and his son Raff walking down a street back in the early 2000s. Until that point, Law thought celebrities had some say in the pictures that get published: “They choose. And that scared me.”
4. If You Insist
Law met Ewan McGregor in 1990, during a somewhat unconventional audition. A director gave the duo $30 and wanted them to get drunk so that he could judge their chemistry with one another.
3. The Real MVPs
Law’s parents were both orphans and teachers. They raised him and his sister Natasha with “uncritical love,” but with limits. His dad, Peter, was “quite tough on him.” Peter lived with his grandma until she passed away when he was seven, then spent five years in the foster system before being adopted at twelve. Jude looks back on the tough love fondly, knowing that his dad was understanding, but wanted his son to appreciate where he came from.
Law worked with director Anthony Minghella on The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain, not coincidentally the two films that sent him to the Oscars. Law met Minghella through his mom, who directed one of Minghella’s plays. Minghella would eventually become a father figure to Law, prior to his passing in 2008. Law admired Minghella’s ability as a director and teacher, but also his positivity and desire to maintain a happy set. Law affectionately remembers he and Minghella handing out chocolates to the extras after a long shoot for Cold Mountain.
1. Double Cross
Law was once in a relationship with Sienna Miller, whom he met while filming Alfie (2004). They were engaged for a time, but the relationship fell apart since Law took a liking to his kids’ nanny. It turns out that Miller also wandered from the path during their relationship, with none other than Daniel Craig.
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