The temporal yoyos of actor Jude Law

Of all the professions, few deal so closely with memory as that of acting. Asked to memorize roles, gestures and lines at their fingertips, it happens that certain actors, when this operation is successful, enter the collective memory. At the turn of the 2000s, the Englishman Jude Law achieved this, thanks to several commercial successes ( The Talented Mr. Ripley , 2000; Return to Cold Mountain , 2004), coupled with collaborations with the Hollywood elite, David Cronenberg ( eXistenZ , 1999) to Steven Spielberg ( AI Artificial Intelligence , 2001).

The last Cannes Film Festival, in May 2023, where it presented The Queen’s Game , by Brazilian Karim Aïnouz, in competition, offered us the opportunity to test the memory of the talented Mister Law. Several summers ago, in Montepulciano, in Tuscany, we met him by chance, escaping from a black sedan with tinted windows, dressed in loose canvas clothes, on the arm of his companion, the psychologist Phillipa Coan, and of their child – to date, the actor has seven, from four different mothers. Our respective toddlers had been frolicking around a slide. On the Croisette, before starting the interview, this brief moment of paternal complicity came back to his mind: “Your face tells me something… ,” he murmured, staring at us. But of course ! Our children played together in Italy! » Here we are: this actor is hypermnesic.

Enough to multiply the temporal yo-yos over the course of a filmography where, with metronome regularity, futuristic dystopias and historical dramas alternate. In The Queen’s Game , Jude Law plays the English king Henry VIII (1491-1547), famous for having two of his six wives beheaded. Difficult, apart from the multiplicity of their romantic partners, to find the slightest common point between the actor, of an affable and arrogant gentleness, and the bloodthirsty monarch to whom he lends his features. “I never judge the people I play ,” he explains, bringing out all the velvet in his voice. I tried to understand where the madness of this tyrant came from, who grew up in a golden prison, to whom his parents repeated that he was the most powerful person behind God, who had the right to kill anyone who did not didn’t agree with him… His childhood was stolen from him. In a way, he was an abused child. »

Elected in 2004 “sexiest man in the world” by the American weekly People , which we understood to be a reference in the matter, Jude Law subjected himself, for the purposes of the film, to a spectacular physical decline , showing himself as vile, hairy and invalid as Henry VIII was in the evening of his life. “This man, incredibly handsome in his youth, transformed into a stinking monster, as his belly swelled and his leg rotted… Playing such decrepitude was quite a challenge. Before making this film, I only had the image of him as a ridiculous histrion. I had not grasped the full horror of his condition, nor of his actions. »

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