David Jude Heyworth Law (born 29 December 1972), known professionally as Jude Law, is an English actor. He has received nominations for two Academy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and two British Academy Awards, winning one. In 2007, he received an Honorary César and was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.
Law came to international attention for his role in Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2004, he received Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and British Academy Film Award nominations for his role in Anthony Minghella’s epic war film Cold Mountain (2003). Law’s other notable films include Gattaca (1997), Enemy at the Gates (2001), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Road to Perdition (2002), Alfie (2004), Closer (2004), The Holiday (2006), Contagion (2011), Hugo (2011), Anna Karenina (2012), Side Effects (2013), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). He portrayed the role of Dr. Watson in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (2009), and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011).
Law has also had an accomplished career on stage, and has received nominations for three Laurence Olivier Awards and two Tony Awards. He has performed on several West End and Broadway productions.
Law was born in Lewisham, South London, the second child of comprehensive school teachers Margaret Anne (née Heyworth) and Peter Robert Law; his father later became, according to Law, “the youngest headmaster in London”. He has a sister, Natasha. Law was named after a “bit of both” the book Jude the Obscure and the Beatles song “Hey Jude”. He grew up in Blackheath, an area in the Borough of Greenwich, and was educated at John Ball Primary School in Blackheath and Kidbrooke School, before attending Alleyn’s School.
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In 1987, Law began acting with the National Youth Music Theatre. He played various roles in the Edinburgh Fringe-awarded play The Ragged Child. One of his first major stage roles was Foxtrot Darling in Philip Ridley’s The Fastest Clock in the Universe. Law went on to appear as Michael in the West End production of Jean Cocteau’s tragicomedy Les Parents terribles, directed by Sean Mathias. For this play, he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Newcomer, and he received the Ian Charleson Award for Outstanding Newcomer.
Following a title change to Indiscretions, the play was reworked and transferred to Broadway in 1995, where Law acted opposite Kathleen Turner, Roger Rees and Cynthia Nixon. This role earned him a Tony Award nomination and the Theatre World Award. In 1989, Law got his first television role, in a film based on the Beatrix Potter children’s book, The Tailor of Gloucester. After minor roles in British television, including a two-year stint in the Granada TV soap opera Families, the leading role in the BFI /Channel 4 short The Crane, Law had his breakthrough with the British crime drama Shopping, which also featured his future wife, Sadie Frost, and a minor role in the episode “Shoscombe Old Place” in Granada’s television series Sherlock Holmes.
In 1997, he became more widely known with his role in the Oscar Wilde bio-pic Wilde. Law won the “Most Promising Newcomer” award from the Evening Standard British Film Awards for his role as Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, the glamorous young lover of Stephen Fry’s Wilde. In Andrew Niccol’s science fiction film Gattaca, Law played the role of a disabled former swimming star living in a eugenics-obsessed dystopia. In Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, he played the role of the ill-fated sex-worker murdered by an art dealer portrayed by Kevin Spacey.
For The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999, Law learned to play saxophone and earned an MTV Movie Award nomination with Matt Damon and Fiorello for performing the song “Tu vuò fà l’americano” by Renato Carosone and Nicola Salerno. The role earned him a Bafta for Best Supporting Actor.
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In 2001, Law starred as Russian sniper Vasily Zaytsev in the film Enemy at the Gates, and learned ballet dancing for the film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). In 2002, he played a mob hitman in Sam Mendes’s 1930s period drama Road to Perdition. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999, and then again for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Cold Mountain in 2003. Both films were directed by Anthony Minghella.
Law, an admirer of Sir Laurence Olivier, suggested the actor’s image be included in the 2004 film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Using the science of computer graphics, footage of the young Olivier was merged into the film, playing Dr. Totenkopf, a mysterious scientific genius and supervillain. Also in 2004, Law portrayed the title character in Alfie, the remake of Bill Naughton’s 1966 film, playing the role originated by Michael Caine; and later took on another of Caine’s earlier roles in the 2007 film Sleuth, adapted by Nobel Laureate in Literature Harold Pinter, while Caine played the role originated by Olivier.
In 2006, he portrayed the role of Kate Winslet’s single-parent brother in the film The Holiday, a modern-day American romantic comedy written, produced and directed by Nancy Meyers. After his appearances in a string of period dramas and science fiction films in the early to mid-2000s, Law said he found it tricky to approach the contemporary role in this film. Like Winslet, the actor stated, he felt more vulnerable about playing a character who fitted his own look and did not require an accent, a costume or a relocation.
Law was one of the Top Ten 2006 A-list of the most bankable film stars in Hollywood, according to the Ulmer Scale. On 1 March 2007, he was honoured with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres conferred by the French government, in recognition of his contribution to World Cinema Arts. He was named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.
Law is one of three actors who took over the role of actor Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam’s film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Along with Law, actors Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell portray “three separate dimensions in the film.” He appeared opposite Forest Whitaker in the dark science fiction comedy Repo Men and as Dr. Watson in Guy Ritchie’s adaption of Sherlock Holmes, alongside Robert Downey, Jr. and Rachel McAdams, as well as the 2011 sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Law starred as a celebrity supermodel in the film Rage, and blogger and “prophet” Alan Krumwiede in the 2011 medical thriller Contagion.
In May 2009, Law returned to the London stage to portray the title role in Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Donmar Warehouse West End season at Wyndham’s Theatre. The BBC reported “a fine and solid performance” but included other reviews of Law’s interpretation that were mixed. There was a further run of the production at Elsinore Castle in Denmark from 25-30 August 2009. In September 2009 the production transferred to the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City. Again, the critics failed to agree on the merit of Law’s interpretation: London’s Daily Mail found only positive reviews, but The Washington Post felt that the much-anticipated performance was “highly disappointing”. Nonetheless, he was nominated for the 2010 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play. In January 2010 at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards ceremony he was presented with the John and Wendy Trewin Award for Best Shakespearean Performance for his 2009 Hamlet.
The Young Pope
In May 2015 it was announced that Law will portray a conservative Italian American Cardinal who is elected Pope by a Vatican that is shown to have liberalism in its midst. An eight-episode series, The Young Pope is being jointly produced by Rupert Murdoch’s paybox Sky and France’s Canal Plus with HBO and directed by Academy Award winning director Paolo Sorrentino. Taking the name Pius XIII, the new Pope proves to be far more conservative than even the Vatican was prepared for and is shown grappling with personal crisis as well as issues involving doctrine and church discipline.
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In 2002, he directed a Respect for Animals anti-fur cinema commercial. The commercial, titled “Fur and Against”, used music composed by Gary Kemp, and included appearances by Law, Chrissie Hynde, Moby, George Michael, Danny Goffey, Rhys Ifans, Sadie Frost, Helena Christensen, Sir Paul McCartney, Mel C, and Stella McCartney.
Since 2005, he has represented Dunhill as an “apparel ambassador” in Asia.
In 2008, he became the international face of Dunhill and began appearing in the worldwide advertising campaigns.
In 2008, Law became the face of the male perfume, Dior Homme Sport.
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In early 2007, Law shot the Jason Martin-directed short film Realtime Movie Trailer at Borough Market, South London. Instead of promoting a film, this “trailer”, which appeared among regular trailers in selected cinemas across London starting 19 November 2007, advertised a live event, Realtime Movie, by Polish artist Pawe? Althamer. Hundreds turned up for this unfilmed re-enactment, in real time, of the sequence of events shown in Realtime Movie Trailer by the same actors, including Althamer as a Polish labourer, held on 30 November 2007. The performance was commissioned by Tate Modern as part of its “The World as a Stage” exhibition, which explored the boundaries between arts and reality.
In 2004, Law launched a campaign to raise £2.5 million towards the Young Vic Theatre’s £12.5 million redevelopment project. He is currently Chairman of the Young Vic committee and has said that he is proud to help make the Young Vic “a nurturing bed” for young directors. In 2006, he joined Robbie Williams in the “Soccer Aid” celebrity football match to benefit UNICEF.
In 2006, he starred in an anthology of Samuel Beckett readings and performances directed by director Anthony Minghella. With the Beckett Gala Evening at the Reading Town Hall, more than £22,000 was donated for the Macmillan Cancer Support. Also in 2006, Frost and Law directed a Shakespeare play in a South African orphanage. He travelled to Durban with Frost and their children to help children who have lost their parents to AIDS. In July 2007, as patron of the charity, he helped kick off the month-long tour of the AIDS-themed musical Thula Sizwe by the Young Zulu Warriors. Also in 2007, he encouraged the Friends of the Earth/the Big Ask campaign, asking British Government to take action against climate change.
Law does charity work for organisations such as Make Poverty History, the Rhys Daniels Trust, and the WAVE Trauma Centre. He supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Pride of Britain Awards.
He is the chairman of the Music For Tomorrow Foundation to help rebuild Katrina-devastated New Orleans.
Jude Law serves as an ambassador of the Prince of Wales’ Children and the Arts Foundation. He supports Breast Cancer Care, and in December 2008 he supported the Willow Foundation with a small canvas for their campaign Stars on Canvas. In April 2009 he supported the charity Education Africa with the gift of a mask he had painted and signed himself. The campaign was launched on eBay by Education Africa.
Stars including Dame Judi Dench and Jude Law have helped save St Stephen’s Church in Hampstead. The celebrities supported the campaign, which raised £4.5 million to refurbish the Victorian church in North London. The building reopened in March 2009 as an arts and community centre.
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In July 2007, Jude Law and Jeremy Gilley were in Afghanistan over a period of 10 days to document peace commitments and activities there for an upcoming film and for marking the UN International Day of Peace. Accompanied by UNICEF Representative Catherine Mbengue, they travelled and filmed in dangerous areas of eastern Afghanistan with a film crew, interviewing children, government ministers, community leaders and UN officials. They also filmed at schools and visited various UNICEF-supported programmes inside and outside the capital Kabul. The efforts of Peace One Day are coordinated in celebration of the annual International Day of Peace, on 21 September. The film, named The Day After Peace, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. On 21 September 2008, the film was shown at a gala screening at the Royal Albert Hall.
On 30 August 2008, Law and Gilley returned to Afghanistan to help keep a momentum around Peace Day. They met President Hamid Karzai, top NATO and UN officials, and members of the aid community. They also screened the new documentary about the efforts in support of peace. The documentary features activities that took place throughout Afghanistan in 2007. It also highlights support from UNICEF and the WHO for the peaceful immunisation of 1.4 million children against polio in insecure areas.
Law’s parents live in Vaudelnay, France, where they run their own drama school and theatre. His sister Natasha is an illustrator and artist, living in London.
Law met actress Sadie Frost while working on the film Shopping. They married on 2 September 1997 and divorced on 29 October 2003. He has three children with Frost: son Rafferty (born 1996), daughter Iris (born 2000), and son Rudy (born 2002). In 2015, Rafferty was named one of GQ’s 50 best dressed British men.
While making the film Alfie (2004) in late 2003, Law and co-star Sienna Miller began a relationship and became engaged on Christmas Day 2004. On 8 July 2005, Law issued a public apology to Miller for having an affair with his children’s nanny. Miller and Law separated in November 2006.
On 29 July 2009, it was announced that Law would become a father for the fourth time, following a brief relationship with American model Samantha Burke in 2008. Burke gave birth to a daughter, Sophia, in September 2009 in New York.
In December 2009, it was reported that Law and Miller had rekindled their relationship after starring in separate shows on Broadway, in late 2009. They spent Christmas 2009 in Barbados, along with three of Law’s children. They announced they had split again in February 2011.
In October 2014, Law announced that he was expecting a fifth child with Catherine Harding, with whom Law was “no longer in a relationship”. Harding gave birth to their daughter Ada, in March 2015.
- “Ah, Leave Me Not to Pine”, ( The Pirates of Penzance), performed in Wilde, (1997)
- “Tu Vuo’ Fa L’Americano”, performed in The Talented Mr. Ripley, with Matt Damon, Fiorello and the Guy Barker International Quintet, (1999)
- “Avenues and Alleyways”, the 1973 Tony Christie song, performed with other crew members in Love, Honour and Obey, (2000)
- “Rock On”, the David Essex song, performed in Love, Honour and Obey, (2000)
- “Opening song”, performed in NBC’s Saturday Night Live, with Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Ashlee Simpson, (2004)