Famed for his boyish good looks, Jude Law looks a little rough around the edges in his new movie, Dom Hemingway. He tells Sophie Herdman about the joy of being out of his comfort zone and the anti-climax of turning 40.
Jude Law is looking dashing, of course. Dressed in a grey shirt and jeans, his face is just the right amount of rugged, and his blue eyes are piercing.
But with his receding hairline and slight air of tiredness, the heart-throb is, finally, showing his age.
Law turned 40 last December, but the year hasn’t been quite as eventful as he’d imagined.
“I’ve enjoyed the work so far, you know...” he says, sighing. “It started off with a bang, with all of these hopes and [thinking] ‘My life’s going to be different and I’m not going to do that any more, and do that...’
“Then as you head towards the summer, you start falling back on bad habits. You’re not so interested in the new stuff that you’ve set yourself. But it’s been eventful in areas.”
Despite this, he remains an advocate of the motto: ‘Do something that scares you every day.’
“We live in a world where we get herded into doing everything that’s easy, rather than facing stuff that’s hard for us, but you get more rewards for the latter,” he says.
“I like the challenge of taking on something that scares you – it usually means it’s the right job to take.”
This could be the thinking behind his latest film, Dom Hemingway, in which Law plays the lead role as the boozing, smoking, eloquent, larger-than-life criminal Dom Hemingway.
At the start of the movie, Dom is released from a long stint in prison. Guided by his close friend Dickie, played by Richard E Grant, he’s slowly coming to terms with being back out in the – now very different – world.
Daunted by the complex role, Law overcame his fears through plain hard work. The actor spent months discussing Dom’s back story with the film’s writer and director, Richard Shepard.
“We made sure we knew the ins and outs, the hows and whys of who this guy was, from birth to the moment you meet him,” Law explains.
On top of that, he gained a mighty 20 pounds in weight. “I chose to play around with my physical appearance because it’s helpful sometimes to assume the physical relationship the character would have with their body,” explains a now slimmed-down Law.
Putting on weight wasn’t a hardship: “I just sort of let go for three months, ate and drank what I wanted.”
He’d already bulked up a bit for the Eugene O’Neill play Anna Christie, in which he was a big, burly sailor. “So then it was just a case of letting it all go south,” he says.
Reversing the process, however, is never quite as simple. “Yes, it was harder work to lose it,” he says, with a twinkle in his eye.
There have been whisperings that this role might be indicative of the direction that Law’s career will now be taking. “Playing alcoholic maniacs?” he retorts.
Well, let’s say larger-than-life character roles. “I just take whatever I find interesting,” he says. “This character reminded me of the part of London I grew up in. I love the contradictions of him, the violent eloquence, the passion and the sentimentality.”
In fact, he says, they have more in common than you might think. “If you look slightly different, people assume it’s this deep character, but there are things in Dom that I’m more like than parts I’ve played when I look like I do now.”
While Law’s professional life has been on a smooth trajectory, his personal life has been rather more tumultuous.
After divorcing Sadie Frost in 2003 (the pair have three children – Rafferty, Iris and Rudy), he became engaged to Sienna Miller, who was his co-star in Alfie. The glamorous couple split following his fling with his children’s nanny, only to reunite and part ways again.
In 2009, Law became a father for a fourth time, when American model Samantha Burke gave birth to Sophia, now aged four.