Firebrand: Jude Law about Smelling Like ‘Blood, Fecal Matter and Sweat’ in Playing Stinky Henry VIII

Jude Law about Smelling Like ‘Blood, Fecal Matter and Sweat’ in Playing Stinky Henry VIII in ‘Firebrand’

Firebrand Cannes Film Festival
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Jude Law wore horrifying concoction of scents, a pungent blend of “blood, fecal matter and sweat,” to play Henry VIII in Firebrand, a historical thriller about the final days of the king and his sixth and last wife Katherine Parr.

“I read several interesting accounts that you could smell Henry three rooms away. His leg was rotting so badly. He hid it with rose oil,” Law said at Monday’s Cannes Film Fest press conference for Firebrand, which debuted at the Palais a day prior. “I thought it would have a great impact if I smelt awful.”

He went to perfume specialist to create a custom, revolting blend of smells to capture the odor of the king’s leg ulcer. “She makes wonderful scents, and she also makes awful scents. She somehow came up with this extraordinary variety of blood, fecal matter and sweat.”

The film’s director Karim Aïnouz shook his head as he remembered the stinky brew, which permeated the entire production. “When he walked in on set,” he said, “it was just horrible.”

“Firebrand” was greeted at Cannes with an eight-minute standing ovation, which was cut short because Alicia Vikander, who plays Katherine Parr, was motioning for the audience to stop so she wouldn’t cry.

Adapted from the 2013 novel “Queen’s Gambit,” the film takes place in blood-soaked Tudor England as Parr outmaneuvers her husband to survive his tumultuous final days on the throne.

Despite embodying a monarch for the film, Law says he’s uninterested in the happenings of the aristocracy. Earlier in the press conference, the actor burst out laughing when he was asked by a journalist to share his thoughts on the British Royal family.

“I kind of see it like theater, although I’m slightly more obsessed by theater,” Law said. “But I’m not one for gossip. I don’t really enjoy it. I find no interest in it, and I don’t really enjoy following tittle tattle stories.

But he is fascinated with the way the past can inform the times we are living in. “There was something remarkable about looking at the photos of this medieval ceremony and how it applied to today made me feel very modern,” Law continued, alluding to the recent coronation of Charles III and Camilla.

Vikander, who plays Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr, said she was equally indifferent about the Swedish monarchy. “I agree with Jude on most things that he said. But yeah, I don’t follow it really myself.”