Family & Companions
He was named after the Thomas Hardy character and the Beatles' song "Hey, Jude".
"I model each character on me, really."---Jude Law in Interview, May 1995.
Plagued with being called a heartthrob and a Golden Boy, British actor Jude Law managed to develop into a respected actor known for tackling challenging and often flawed characters. Though he struggled a bit early in his career to make a name for himself, Law finally burst onto the scene full force with his Oscar-nominated performance in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999). From there, he was suddenly everywhere onscreen, playing a Russian sniper battling a Nazi sharpshooter during the Battle of Stalingrad in "Enemy at the Gates" (2001), a scarred assassin fond of photography in "Road to Perdition" (2002), and a Confederate soldier presumed dead and struggling to make in home in "Cold Mountain" (2003). Though he was often the subject of tabloid fodder due to his trouble-plagued relationship with starlet Sienna Miller, Law oscillated between small indies like "I [Heart] Huckabees" (2004) and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (2014) and large-scale studio movies like "The Aviator" (2004) and "Sherlock Holmes" (2009) and its 2011 sequel. He also showcased an underappreciated knack for broad comedy in the Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy hit "Spy" (2015) and explored television with a starring role in the limited series "The Young Pope" (HBO 2016) before taking on the role of the young Albus Dumbledore in J.K. Rowling's extended Harry Potter universe. Regardless of his tabloid-friendly personal travails, Law nonetheless maintained his composure on his way to becoming one of the new millennium's top box office draws.
Born on Dec. 29, 1972 in Lewisham, England, a borough in southwestern London, Law was the son of schoolteachers who encouraged their son to act at an early age. When he was 12 years old, Law began performing with the National Youth Music Theatre. A leading role in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" led to his TV debut in a musical based on Beatrix Potter's "The Tailor of Gloucester" (1990). That same year, Law dropped out of school for the British soap, "Families." Fourteen months after his debut, Law left the series and returned to the stage, touring Italy as Freddie in "Pygmalion" and making a splash in London in "The Fastest Clock in the Universe." In 1994, Law made an impression on theatergoers in both London and New York as a young man coping with his suffocating parents in "Les Parents Terrible," particularly for an extended bathing scene in the second act which required complete nudity. Making enough of an impression, he was the only member of the English production invited to reprise his role on Broadway and was honored with a Tony Award nomination for his effort.
Law's first film role - he played a passive car stealing street kid in "Shopping" (1994) - did little to propel him into the consciousness of American audiences. This set an unfortunate pattern for his early film career throughout much of the 1990s, during which he delivered strong turns in under-performing features. In 1997 alone, he offered three diverse portraits: the spoiled Lord Alfred Douglas in the well-intentioned biopic "Wilde," an alcoholic paraplegic in "Gattaca," and a bisexual hustler who ends up a murder victim in the based-on-fact "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." In each case, the actor brought energy and charisma to the screen, yet each film failed to find much audience support. His losing streak continued with the barely released "Music From Another Room" (1998) with Jude starring as an artist who reconnects with a girl at whose he birth he assisted, and "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" (1998) as a vampire-like predator. While many believed that David Cronenberg's sci-fi thriller "eXistenZ" (1999) might finally catapult Law onto the A-list, it proved too esoteric for mainstream audiences.
Law finally caught a break when Anthony Minghella tapped him to play the decadent playboy Dickie Greenleaf who becomes an object of envy to Matt Damon's "The Talented Mr. Ripley." With talk of an Oscar nomination - which he later received - Law finally seemed truly on the verge of fulfilling the predictions of his becoming a movie star, though he would take his time getting there, cultivating pet projects before stepping up the pace of his soon-to- skyrocket film career. Prior to the release of "Ripley," he returned to the London stage and earned strong notices in "'Tis Pity She's a Whore," as well as making his directorial debut with a segment of the omnibus TV-movie "Tube Tales" (1999). Along with his wife Sadie Frost, whom he had met on the set of "Shopping," and best mates Jonny Lee Miller, Ewan McGregor and Sean Pertwee, Law formed the production company Natural Nylon, with a slate of films in various stages of development.
As predicted, Hollywood came looking for him again in 2001 to take on the leading role in "Enemy at the Gates." His enigmatic performance soon led to an inspired turn as a gigolo robot in Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated "A.I." From there, Law would soon become a highly-coveted talent among Hollywood royalty. In 2002, he had a supporting role as a murderous photographer opposite Tom Hanks in "Road to Perdition," before coming into his own as a leading man in 2003 when he took over a role initially eyed for Tom Cruise opposite Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger in director Anthony Minghella's "Cold Mountain" an adaptation of Charles Frazier's best-selling Civil War melodrama. Playing Confederate Army deserter Inman, Law was an utterly believable and compelling screen presence. The actor's work was rewarded with a spate of critical recognition, including an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor. Of course, he was also subject to some of the prices of fame, which included intense media scrutiny of the gradual, messy breakup of his marriage to Frost.
Law's next big-screen entry was the retro-yet-original action-adventure "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" (2004) opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, in which he played the titular character, a daring aviator in an Art Deco New York, battling giant robots and searching for missing scientists. "Sky Captain" was the first in a succession of Law-headlined films that were released in late 2004: He next appeared in the ensemble of writer-director David O. Russell's "existential comedy" "I [Heart] Huckabees" as Jason Schwartzman's rival, an executive climbing the corporate ladder at retail superstore Huckabees, whose seemingly perfect life is explored by a pair of existential detectives. Law then took on the titular caddish rogue with a comeuppance coming (originally played by Michael Caine) in a remake of the 1960s British comedy, "Alfie." This version, however, attempted to make the womanizing Alfie more palatable by recasting him as a cuddly commitment-phobic. Law met his first important post-divorce girlfriend on-set, a young up-and-comer named Sienna Miller. Their tempestuous union would make her a star and would soon shed an unfortunate "Alfie"-like light on Law.
He next appeared in the Mike Nichols-directed drama "Closer" opposite Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen as a pair of couples whose relationships become messily intertwined; the performance was Law's best of the busy year. The actor also gave his all when he had a cameo as the suave but debauched Hollywood superstar Errol Flynn in Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic "The Aviator." He closed the year as the voice of the title role in the children's fantasy "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events." At the 2005 Oscar ceremony, Law's now notable ubiquitous visage was notoriously skewered by host Chris Rock, who wondered who Law was to get so many roles, prompting über-serious Sean Penn, who was filming "All the King's Men" with the actor, to defend Law's talent from the stage. Later that year more unwanted publicity ensued when Law released a statement apologizing to his then-fiancée Miller for having an affair with his children's nanny three months into their seven-month engagement. Not surprisingly, the British and American tabloids had a field day. The couple attempted to reconcile, but ultimately called it quits.
In "All the King's Men" (2006), Steven Zaillian's remake of Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Law joined a promising cast that included Penn, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, Patricia Clarkson and James Gandolfini. Law next starred in "The Holiday" (2006), a romantic comedy centered on two women - one British (Kate Winslet) and the other American (Cameron Diaz) - whose torn love lives prompt them to cross the ocean and switches houses for the Christmas holiday. Meanwhile, Law collaborated again with director Anthony Minghella for "Breaking and Entering" (2006), playing a partner at a thriving architecture firm who embarks on a quest of self-discovery and ultimately redemption when he hunts for the burglar who twice broke into his office and stole all his company's high-tech equipment.
Following another remake, "Sleuth" (2007), a play by Anthony Shaffer turned into a 1972 film starring Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier, Law played a celebrity supermodel in Sally Potter's ensemble media satire "Rage" (2009), and joined Johnny Depp and Colin Farrell in portraying a transformed version of Heath Ledger's character in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (2009), following the death of the actor in 2008. Returning to blockbuster filmmaking, he portrayed Dr. Watson to Robert Downey Jr.'s titular "Sherlock Holmes" (2009), a rousing action movie that was a global hit at the box office. Meanwhile, Law rekindled his relationship with Miller despite fathering a child after his brief dalliance with model Samantha Burke in 2009, though the couple again split two years later. After starring with Forest Whitaker in the sci-fi thriller "Repo Men" (2010), Law was a messianic conspiracy theorist in Steven Soderbergh's thriller "Contagion" (2011), which focused on the death and destruction caused by a rapidly spreading virus.
Reprising his role as Dr. Watson, Law starred with Downey, Jr., in the commercially successful, but critically derided sequel "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (2011). After working with Martin Scorsese in the Oscar-nominated "Hugo" (2011) and co-starring with Ben Foster, Rachel Weisz and Anthony Hopkins in the foreign-made drama "360" (2012), Law had a leading role as Alexei Karenina to Keira Knightley's "Anna Karenina" (2012), Joe Wright's Academy Award-nominated adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's literary masterpiece. From there, he voiced Pitch Black the Boogeyman in the animated "Rise of the Guardians" (2012), and made some news for dropping out of filming the indie film "Jane Got a Gun" in 2013, the day after director Lynne Ramsay exited the film. Law had signed on to the project exclusively to work with Ramsay.
Law costarred in the Steven Soderbergh thriller "Side Effects" (2013) and took on a key role in Wes Anderson's period piece "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (2014) before engaging in a bit of self-deprecating comedy as a suave secret agent in Paul Feig's "Spy" (2015) opposite star Melissa McCarthy. After co-starring as author Thomas Wolfe in literary biopic "Genius" (2016), Law took on his first extended television role, starring as Pope Pius XIII in the historical drama "The Young Pope" (HBO 2016). In April 2017, it was announced that Law had been cast in the sequel to J.K. Rowling's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (2016) as the young Albus Dumbledore.
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Joined the National Youth Music Theater at age 12
TV series debut as a teenage runaway in the British serial "Families"
TV acting debut, "The Tailor of Gloucester"
U.S. TV debut in an episode of "Sherlock Holmes" aired on "Mystery!" (PBS)
Toured Italy in production of "Pygmalion"
Film acting debut in the short feature "The Crane"
London stage debut in "The Fastest Clock in the Universe"
Acted in an episode of the British telefilm "The Marshal"
Made wide impression in feature film "Shopping"
Originated role of Michael in the London production of Cocteau's "Les Parents Terribles"
Starred in title role of Euripedes' "Ion" on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company
Was only member of British cast invited to reprise role when "Le Parents Terribles" was produced on Broadway (retitled "Indiscretions"), nominated for a Tony Award
Filmed first U.S. movie, starring opposite Claire Danes in "I Love You, I Love You Not"
Had major supporting roles in "Gattaca" as a parlayzed man who sells his DNA
Portrayed an actor in "Final Cut" who has died and left a videotape on which he discloses his true feelings about his friends
Co-starred in "Music From Another Room"
Played a vampire in "The Wisdom of Crocodiles"
Acted on stage in London in "Tis Pity She's a Whore"
Starred opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh in "eXistenZ," directed by David Cronenberg
Made directorial debut with the segment "A Bird in the Hand" of "Tube Tales"; screened at the London Film Festival
Played pivotal role of Dickie Greenleaf in Anthony Minghella's "The Talented Mr. Ripley" opposite Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow; earned Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor
Co-starred with Ed Harris and Joseph Fiennes in the WWII drama "Enemy at the Gates"
Starred opposite Haley Joel Osment in Steven Spielberg's "A.I. Artificial Intelligence"
Played an unscrupulous photographer and hitman in "Road to Perdition"
Returned to the stage in a London production of "Doctor Faustus"
Played the lead in "Cold Mountain"; received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actor
Starred in a remake of Bill Naughton's 1966 drama "Alfie," a role made famous by Michael Caine
Cast opposite Natalie Portman, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts in "Closer," produced and directed by Mike Nichols
Has a cameo role as Errol Flynn in Martin Scorsese's "Aviator"
Starred as an aviation officer opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow"
Reunited with director Anthony Minghella to star in "Breaking and Entering"
Played Jack Burden, the journalist narrator in the big-screen adaptation of the Robert Penn Warren novel "All the King's Men"
Played the role of Milo Tindle, originally played by Michael Caine in the adaptation of the 1970 Tony Award-winning play "Sleuth," directed by by Kenneth Branagh; also produced
Joined Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman in director Wong Kar-Wai's "My Blueberry Nights"
Played the title role in London's West End production of "Hamlet"; production moved to Broadway in September 2009 at the Broadhurst Theatre; earned a Tony Award nomination for Leading Actor in a Play
Replaced the deceased Heath Ledger, portraying transformations of Ledger's character, in Terry Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"
Cast as Dr. Watson opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes"
Co-starred in the futuristic thriller "Repo Men"
Joined an ensemble cast for Steven Soderbergh's "Contagion"
Reprised Watson role in Ritchie's sequel "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows"
Cast in Martin Scorsese's family adventure "Hugo"
Played Alexiei Karenin opposite Keira Knightley in feature adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina," directed by Joe Wright
Voiced Pitch the Boogeyman in animated adventure "Rise of the Guardians"
Cast as a psychiatrist who treats Rooney Mara's character in Steven Soderbergh directed thriller "Side Effects"
Played the title character in off-kilter family drama "Dom Hemingway"
Cast among an ensemble of stars in Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Played the title character on HBO series "The Young Pope"
Voiced Charles on animated series "Neo Yokio"
Played a young Album Dumbedore in "Harry Potter" franchise entry "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
He was named after the Thomas Hardy character and the Beatles' song "Hey, Jude".
"I model each character on me, really."---Jude Law in Interview, May 1995.
"I hope I'm more realistic than cynical. For all the insults that have been hurled on Generation X, we have a huge capacity to keep going, even though our heroes kill themselves, lovemaking is dangerous and famine and war are everywhere. But I think there are reasons to be optimistic. Hope is nothing if it's not tested."---Jude Law in Newsday, June 4, 1995.
"I will go anywhere, play any role, if the part speaks to me, or the story has something new to say. I want to be acting until I'm 80."---Law quoted in Detour, November 1996.
"To be honest, I've achieved everything I could ever have possibly dreamed of achieving. That may sound terribly arrogant. But when you're young, you go to the National Theatre with your parents and think, I'd love to be here. And then suddenly you are. It's a dream come true."---Jude Law quoted in Empire, July 1998.
"Keeping people guessing is the one obligation that you have to yourself and your audience."---Law quoted in the London Times, October 9, 1999.
"I think he'll be a huge movie star. He shows this interesting tension between grace and danger. He has extraordinary charisma and lust for life, but he also has cruelty in him."---"The Talented Mr. Ripley" writer-director Anthony Minghella quoted in Daily News, December 19, 1999.
"Jude is an extremely gifted, talented actor who happens to be beautiful and is starring in movies, but that's not what it's about for him. It's not about the glamour and looking pretty on screen."---"Enemy at the Gates" co-star Rachel Weisz quoted in The Daily Telegraph, February 17, 2001.
For Law's role as a cold-blooded hitman in "Road to Perdition," Law's good looks had to be tapered to make him believable. His hairline was pushed back and he was given receding gums and rotted teeth to acheive this affect.
"Maybe I do have this passion to just play weirdos. But I relish the challenge. I figure it would always be trickier to get offered those kinds of roles than the more obvious ones that perhaps I would suit."---Law to GQ Magazine, July 2002.
"Jude Law is one of the most directable actors I've ever worked with, which is not to say that he doesn't have his own mind, because he does, or that he doesn't have his own wisdom, because he does. It's simply to say that he leaves all sense of himself somewhere away from the set. He's present and willing at all times."---Anthony Minghella about Law, who directed him in "Cold Mountain" Interview December 2003.
"He's very sexy, he has charisma and this great, dry wit; he's incredibly charming and truly a brilliant actor. Jude somehow got it all. And he's a well-adjusted guy; I'm very envious of how together Jude is at such a young age. If a director gets the chance to work with him, he should jump. It's like a vacation."---Charles Shyer who directed Law in "Alfie" to Premiere Magazine, March 2004.
Law was named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People for 2004
"He is a more sexually dangerous actor than many British actors. There is a mischief in him somewhere, and it's partly because he is one of the most handsome men on the planet. He is a beautiful boy with the mind of a man, a character actor struggling to get out of a beautifulm body."---Anthony Minghella, who directed Law in "Cold Mountain" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" as quoted to Vanity Fair, October 2004.
People magazine named Law the "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2004
"Obviously he's gorgeous. But he's so bright, and he has an innate goodness about him."---Susan Sarandon, Law's co-star in "Alfie" to People, November 29, 2004.