Side Effects: Jude Law

In Soderbergh’s thriller, “Side Effects,” Jude Law plays a crucial role.

In the emergency room, after she deliberately drives her car into a wall, Emily is assigned to Dr. Jonathan Banks, played by Jude Law.
An up-and-coming doctor in a successful practice, Banks suspects Emily’s accident is a cry for help, but he agrees to release her from the hospital if she accepts medication and counseling after the accident.

“Jude is really attractive and charming and, well, he’s Jude Law,” says Burns. “He looks like a movie star, but he’s very convincing as a scientist who is a little awkward personally. As time goes on, Banks becomes completely unhinged by this patient. His whole life is going off a cliff and there’s nothing he can do. He goes to a very dark place and he is punished for it.”

Soderbergh had just finished working with the two-time Oscar nominee on Contagion before approaching him about the role of Dr. Banks. “Jude is really good at playing an obsessive,” says the director. “He has a very watchable quality when he’s on a quest for something. I thought it would be an added element if the character weren’t an American, so I asked him not to change his accent. In addition to everything else Banks has to deal with, he’s also from a different culture, which will come back to haunt him later.”

“Jude’s really great at playing that guy under pressure,” adds Jacobs. “He’s got great leading man charisma, and it seemed this would be a perfect part for him.”

Law was immediately intrigued by the part. “Dr. Banks is at a point in his life where it seems like everything is falling into place,” says the actor. “He’s moved into a wonderful new apartment with his family. His stepson’s gotten into a good private school. His practice is doing well enough that he is sought after by pharmaceutical companies to run studies for them on new drugs. He certainly doesn’t see what’s coming.”

The script gave each of the actors a chance to pull out all the stops, says Law. “We get to be incredibly meek and mild and wounded, as well as fierce, rough and powerful. Rooney is formidable as Emily. She has an unreadable sort of depth of character that is not often found in an actress her age. And she also has an ability to turn on a fire, which is just perfect for this role.”

Law describes the film as a sophisticated adult thriller set in the world of psychiatry and prescription drugs. But, he adds, “What’s very clever about the script is that it doesn’t overemphasize the issue of drugs. It’s really about someone who has everything to lose and who loses everything. There’s a great whodunit element as well. The twists are going to keep people guessing, and maybe even want to come back and see it again.”