Jude Law (1972-) b. London, England.
Born in South East London, Law attended a local comprehensive school before later moving to a private school. He dropped out of school aged 17 to appear in the daytime soap Families (1990), thereafter he dedicated himself mostly to the theatre. Law’s film career began with the dismal Shopping (1994), panned by critics on release; it was a clichéd portrayal of youth alienation. Regarded as the archetypal pretty boy actor, but with talent to boot, Law redeemed his reputation with an acclaimed performance as ‘Bosie’ in Brian Gilbert’s biopic Wilde (1997).
Law then moved to Hollywood and made his first major impact opposite Uma Thurman as alcoholic paraplegic Jerome in Gattaca (1997). He quickly followed this with another fine performance in a sci-fi film, that of Ted Pikul in David Cronenberg’s offbeat eXistenZ (1999). Anthony Minghella’s box office hit The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) rocketed Law to mainstream international stardom for his role as decadent playboy Dickie Greenleaf. Along with Ewan McGregor, Sean Pertwee, Jonny Lee Miller and Law’s wife, Sadie Frost, they set up the production company, Natural Nylon.
After appearing in the unexceptional British gangster flick Love, Honour And Obey (2000), Law turned in an Oscar-nominated performance as a gigolo robot in Steven Spielberg’s AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001), a project he’d inherited from the late Stanley Kubrick. After this came Sam Mendes’ Road To Perdition (2002). Law came into his own as a leading man when he took the lead role in Anthony Minghella‘s Cold Mountain (2003), opposite Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger in the adaptation of Charles Frazer’s bestselling Civil War melodrama. Law was an utterly convincing as a Confederate Army deserter and earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor.
Law’s next big-screen entry was the retro sci-fi yarn Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), a technically brilliant digitally created adventure that was a venture away from traditional filmmaking, but the derivative story failed to connect with the public. He then stepped into the shoes of Michael Caine to for the first time to star as the caddish womanising rogue Alfie (2004), a slick remake and relocation of the British comedy classic, however, the movie was ultimately devoid of the misogyny or resonance of the original. In the Mike Nichols tale of betrayal and heartbreak, Closer (2004), Law was cast as an obituary writer opposite Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen, as couples in destructive relationships who become messily tangled.
Law again collaborated with director Anthony Minghella for Breaking and Entering (2006), playing a landscape architecture frustrated by a series of burglaries at his swanky office. Unfortunately, Law is a complex actor to warm to and the film’s plot stretched the bounds of plausibility. In another remake, Sleuth (2007), Law played hairdresser Milo Tindle, Michael Caine’s character in the original film. Sadly this adaptation of Anthony Shaffer’s play wasn’t well served by Kenneth Branagh‘s heavy-handed direction or Harold Pinter’s leaden script.