Oscar Actors: Law, Jude–Background, Career, Awards

Updated July 1, 2020
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British actor David Jude Heyworth Law (December 29, 1972) has received multiple awards including a BAFTA Film Award as well as nominations for two Oscar Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, three Laurence Olivier Awards, and two Tony Awards. In 2007, he received an Honorary César and was named a knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government, in recognition of his contribution to World Cinema Arts.

Breakthrough

Born and raised in London, Law started acting in theatre. After finding small roles in feature films, Law gained recognition 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 a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. He found further critical and commercial success in Enemy at the Gates (2001), Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition (2002). He gave an acclaimed performance in the war film Cold Mountain (2003), earning him Oscar Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.

Law went on to star in several commercially unsuccessful films, including Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) and Alfie (2004). He then starred as the romantic lead in films Closer (2004) and The Holiday (2006), which were well-received. He also portrayed Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011). In the 2010s, Law appeared in Repo Men (2010) and had supporting roles in Contagion (2011) and the 3D film Hugo (2011). The latter two received positive reviews from critics. In 2012, he starred in Anna Karenina (2012), Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects (2013), Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and Paul Feig’s Spy (2015).

In 2017, he starred in The Young Pope and in 2018 portrayed Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. His highest-grossing release was the superhero film Captain Marvel (2019), in which he played Yon-Rogg.

Law has also had an accomplished stage career, performing in several West End and Broadway productions such as Les Parents terribles, Hamlet and Anna Christie.

Law was born in Lewisham, South London, the second child of junior and later on, comprehensive school teachers Margaret Anne Heyworth and Peter Robert Law; his father later became, according to Law, “the youngest headmaster in London.”[2][5] His mother was adopted but was later reunited with her Welsh birth mother, Meinwen Parry.[6] He has a sister, Natasha.[5] Law was named David after one of his parents’ best friends, but called by his middle name since birth. The name Jude was taken from “a bit of both” the book Jude the Obscure and the Beatles song “Hey Jude.”[5] He grew up in Blackheath, an area in the Borough of Greenwich,[7] and was educated at John Ball Primary School in Blackheath and Kidbrooke School, before attending Alleyn’s School.[5]

Law had his breakthrough with the British crime drama Shopping, which also featured his future wife, Sadie Frost.

In 1997, he became more widely known with his role in the Oscar Wilde biopic Wilde.[5] 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.[8] In Andrew Niccol’s science fiction film Gattaca, Law played the role of a disabled former swimming star living in a eugenics-obsessed dystopia.[5] In Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, he played the role of Billy Hanson, a male prostitute killed by an art dealer portrayed by Kevin Spacey.

In 1998, Jude Law played in ‘The Wisdom of Crocodiles’.

For The Talented Mr. Ripley in 1999, Law learned to play the 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 Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role,[9] as well as nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

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).[10] In 2002, he played a mob hitman in Sam Mendes’s 1930s period drama Road to Perdition. In 2003, he collaborated again with director Anthony Minghella, for Cold Mountain, earning Best Actor nominations from members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.[5]

Law in 2007
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.[11][12] 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;[5] 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.[13]

In 2006, he portrayed the role of Kate Winslet’s character’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.[14] By the end of the year, Law was one of the Top Ten A-list of the most bankable film stars in Hollywood, according to the Ulmer Scale.[15]

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.”[16][17] 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,[18] and blogger and “prophet” Alan Krumwiede in the 2011 medical thriller Contagion.

In April 2017, it was announced that Law would be portraying a young Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.[19][20] The film was released on 16 November 2018 to mixed reviews.[21][22] Law also portrayed Yon-Rogg in the 2019 superhero film Captain Marvel.[23]

In 1989, Law received his first television role, in a film based on the Beatrix Potter children’s book, The Tailor of Gloucester. Law would then go on to have minor roles in various British television series, including a two-year stint in the Granada TV produced ITV soap opera Families, and in the episode “Shoscombe Old Place” in ITV’s Sherlock Holmes, as well as the leading role in the BFI /Channel 4 short The Crane.

Law portrayed Lenny Belardo/Pius XIII, a conservative American Cardinal who is elected Pope in response to what is perceived as rampant liberalism in the Catholic Church.[24] A ten-episode series titled The Young Pope was jointly produced by Sky Atlantic and Canal+ with HBO, and directed by Academy Award winning director Paolo Sorrentino. The series began airing in various countries in October 2016.[25] Law reprised in the role in the spin-off series, The New Pope, which premiered on HBO on 13 January 2020.[26] He also stars in the upcoming miniseries The Third Day, which is set to premiere on 11 May on HBO.[27][28]

In 1987, Law began acting with the National Youth Music Theatre.[29] 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 appeared 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.

Tony Nomination

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 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. 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.

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, Melanie C, and Stella McCartney.[39]

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.

In 2016, he appeared alongside Japanese actor Shun Oguri in a commercial for Pepsi’s “Momotaro’s Story” campaign, as “Oni”.

In early 2007, Law shot the 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 Paweł Althamer. Hundreds turned up for this unfilmed reenactment, 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.[46][47][48]

Philanthropy
In 2004, Law launched a campaign to raise £2.5 million towards the Young Vic Theatre’s £12.5 million redevelopment project.[49][50] 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 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.[54] Also in 2007, he encouraged the Friends of the Earth/the Big Ask campaign, asking British government to take action against climate change.[55][56][57]

Law does charity work for 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.[63][64]

Law serves as an ambassador of the Prince of Wales’ Children and the Arts Foundation.[65] He supports Breast Cancer Care,[66] and in December 2008 he supported the Willow Foundation with a small canvas for their campaign Stars on Canvas.[67] 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.[68]

Law, alongside Judi Dench, helped save St Stephen’s Church in Hampstead. They 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.

In July 2007, Law and Jeremy Gilley were in Afghanistan for 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.[73][74] They also filmed at schools and visited various UNICEF-supported programmes inside and outside the capital Kabul.[75][76] The efforts of Peace One Day are coordinated in celebration of the annual International Day of Peace, on 21 September.[77][78] The film, named The Day After Peace, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.[79][80][81] On 21 September 2008, the film was shown at a gala screening at the Royal Albert Hall.[82]

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 immunization of 1.4 million children against polio in insecure areas.

Law is a featured artist on Vampire Weekend’s 2019 album, Father of the Bride, in which he recites Thomas Campbell’s poem “Lord Ullin’s Daughter” during the song of the same name.[88]

Law’s parents live in Vaudelnay, France, where they run 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.” The two married on  September  2, 1997 and divorced on October 29, 2003. They have three children. While filming Alfie (2004) in late 2003, Law and co-star Sienna Miller began a relationship and became engaged in 2004. On 8 July 2005, Law issued a public apology to Miller for having an affair with his children’s nanny. Miller and Law split in November 2006.

Law was in a brief relationship with American model Samantha Burke in 2008, and they have a daughter in September 2009. His fifth child, a girl, was born in 2015, to Catherine Harding.  He married his girlfriend Phillipa Coan on 1 May 2019.