YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Hiding in plain view

For Personal Reasons, Jude Law Likes Staying Busy These Days, But It Only Seems Like The Chameleonic Actor Is In Every Movie This Fall.

September 12, 2004|Matt Wolf | Special to The Times

London — For a guy whose last film was called "Cold Mountain," Jude Law could scarcely be more hot. Between now and December, the actor will be seen in six films, although "seen" may not be quite the right word: Law narrates but doesn't actually appear in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," which stars Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep, except, presumably, as a series of silhouettes.

No matter. That still leaves five movies to form a Jude Law juggernaut the likes of which is virtually unique these days. To start with, there's Law careering around the skies against a lot of blue screen in "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," a film in which conversation is pretty much relegated to some sub-Tracy/Hepburn banter between Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. In the ensemble comedy "I [Heart] Huckabees," Law dons an American accent to play the ironically named Brad Stand, a corporate louse who does learn to take a stand -- sort of -- by the end of the film. "The Aviator," shot just after "Huckabees," represented five days out of Law's life: two filming and three rehearsing the cameo role of Errol Flynn under the watchful eye of Martin Scorsese.

In "Alfie," Law, by contrast, is the movie, impressively so, which is by no means to discredit a terrific supporting cast of women (Susan Sarandon and Marisa Tomei, just to start with) who could fill that category at the Oscars more or less by themselves. "Closer," the last in the sequence to be filmed, returns Law to the ranks of ensemble, albeit of a fairly heady sort: adapted from Englishman Patrick Marber's corrosive play, the film also stars Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen.

Is such intensive exposure good? Law smiles in between forkfuls of spicy huevos tostadas at a mutually favorite haunt up the road from his north London home.

"Probably not," says the actor, who, fresh from a vacation in Italy with girlfriend Sienna Miller (the two met on "Alfie"), is looking a bit more golden than usual. On this particular morning, Law sounds in no way pressured, even though he has been back barely 24 hours from Venice and is off the same afternoon by private jet to Chicago to promote "Sky Captain" on "Oprah"; co-star Paltrow -- a friend from their time together in "The Talented Mr. Ripley," the film that generated Law's first Oscar mention -- is coming too.

We are talking at the same funky wooden-tabled eatery where Law and director Anthony Minghella spent many meals charting the character of Inman in "Cold Mountain," for which Law last February was nominated for his second Academy Award. But that was the only movie in which the actor appeared during 2003, as opposed to the cinematic Law landslide that is about to happen.

"There's a certain sense of a house of cards, that one sort of holds the other up," he says. "But at the same time, I sort of wish they could have been slightly spread out. I certainly didn't do them all in six months, so it's a shame that they're coming out in six months." Law goes on: "Part of me doesn't want to think about it too much and is just hoping that they all get enjoyed and seen; another part of me tries to be very practical and think, 'Well, at least they're all different types of films. They're not necessarily treading on each other's toes.' "

That's the actor's view. How do his colleagues feel about the near-ubiquitousness of their star? "I don't know," says David O. Russell, the director of "I [Heart] Huckabees," speaking by telephone from a cutting room in L.A. "I've got to tell you; I was kind of shocked. I could argue it both ways, both good and bad. We'll have to see."

With "Huckabees," says Russell, "I feel we'll be at the very top of the pack in terms of the work that we did; this is somewhat different in terms of anything Jude's ever done before, and I feel good about that." Although, says Russell, tossing in the expected caveat: "Obviously, as a director, you always prefer your guys are mostly just in your movie and not kind of in any other movie at that time."

Other collaborators say this sort of thing mattered less. "The thing with Jude," says "Sky Captain" director Kerry Conran, "is that none of these are going to be typical roles, and they're not going to be the same role. He's been very much a chameleon of sorts." Marber, "Closer's" screenwriter, spent a lot of time on the set and was able to observe Law at the very end of this formidably busy time. "To me, how much he's done before doesn't matter as long as once the guy's in the room, he's focused on the job. That's all you care about, and Jude was totally focused, always on top of it."

Los Angeles Times Articles