British actor Jude Law has received Oscar nominations for his performances in ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and ‘Cold Mountain,’ having also starred in projects like ‘A.I.,’ ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘Spy.’
Who Is Jude Law?
Jude Law was born on December 29, 1972, in Lewisham, England. While his first several U.S. films were disappointing, he earned an Academy Award nomination for his role in 1999’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, opposite Matt Damon. Law received another Oscar nod in 2004 for his work in Cold Mountain, with Nicole Kidman. He also co-starred in the Sherlock Holmes films, alongside Robert Downey Jr., as well as in Anna Karenina (2012), with Keira Knightley. Law served as the titular pontiff of HBO’s The Young Pope in 2016, and later earned prominent roles in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and Captain Marvel.
Early Life and Career
Future actor Jude Law was born on December 29, 1972, in Lewisham, London, England. Raised in South London by his parents, who were both schoolteachers, Law joined the National Youth Music Theatre at age 13, where he acted in such productions as Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. He left school at age 16 after winning a part as a teenage runaway on the British television soap opera Families.
Stage Roles: ‘Pygmalion’ to ‘Indiscretions’
Over the next several years, Law won parts on stage, in touring productions of Pygmalion and The Fastest Clock in the Universe in London (both 1992), and on TV in both Britain and the U.S. (a 1990 episode of Sherlock Holmes during the PBS series Mystery!). In 1994, Law made his big screen debut, in the poorly received British crime drama Shopping; the film also featured Law’s future wife, Sadie Frost, an actress best known for her appearance in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992).
The classically handsome Law initially found a greater measure of success on stage than on screen. He starred in the London production of Les Parents Terribles in 1995, and became the only member of the cast who was invited to reprise his role in the hit Broadway version of the play, Indiscretions. Law earned a Tony Award nomination for Featured Actor for his role as a son involved in an incestuous relationship with his mother, complete with a much-talked-about nude scene opposite Kathleen Turner.
Films and TV Shows
‘Gattaca,’ ”Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,’ ‘Wilde’
By contrast, Law’s first several U.S. films met with a less than warm reception, both critically and commercially. In 1997, he had important supporting roles in three major American films: in the futuristic thriller Gattaca, co-starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, he played a genetically-perfect man crippled in an accident; in both Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, directed by Clint Eastwood and co-starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack, and Wilde, he played dangerously tempting objects of homosexual desire. Though all three films did mediocre business, Law received praise for his magnetic screen presence and, inevitably, his sultry good looks.
More disappointments followed, including the little-seen I Love You, I Love You Not (1997), co-starring Claire Danes, Music From Another Room (1998), and The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998, released in the U.S. in 2000).
Oscar Nod for ‘Mr. Ripley’
In 1999, Law’s production company, Natural Nylon, which he co-founded with Frost and fellow actors Jonny Lee Miller, Ewan McGregor and Sean Pertwee, released its first feature, the unabashedly bizarre eXistenZ, co-starring Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Later that year, Law won raves and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dickie Greenleaf, the carefree playboy at the center of a chilling tale of murderous desire in The Talented Mr. Ripley, co-starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett.
‘Enemy at the Gates,’ ‘A.I.’
In addition to his work in film, Law continued to hone his craft on stage, appearing in the London production of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore in 1999. In 2001, he starred with Ed Harris and Joseph Fiennes in Enemy at the Gates, a drama set during World War II. That summer, Law played a mechanical love god named “Gigolo Joe” in Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited science-fiction opus A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, co-starring Haley Joel Osment.
In 2004, the actor received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Cold Mountain, opposite Nicole Kidman. Law also starred in a remake of the romantic comedy Alfie that same year, playing the title role—a part that had boosted Michael Caine’s career in the 1960s. His other films from this time include The Aviator (2004) and 2006’s All The King’s Men, Breaking and Entering and The Holiday.
Playing Watson in ‘Sherlock Holmes’
In 2009, Law played another legendary character in Sherlock Holmes. He took on the part of Dr. John Watson, the faithful sidekick to the world’s greatest detective (Robert Downey Jr.). The film, directed by Guy Ritchie, proved to be a smash success. The actors teamed up again for the 2011 sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
The following year, Law took on another literary role in Anna Karenina. He co-starred as Alexei Karenin, the cuckolded husband of the title character (played by Keira Knightley), in this latest adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy work. Law also lent his voice to the animated film Rise of the Guardians (2012).
‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ ‘Spy’
Law signed on to play a safe-cracker newly sprung from prison in Dom Hemingway (2013) and landed a part in the Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), with Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. The following year, he was featured in the hit espionage spoof Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy. In 2016, Law starred as writer Thomas Wolfe in Genius, a biopic about famous book editor Max Perkins, played by Colin Firth.
‘The Young Pope’ and ‘The New Pope’
Also in 2016, Law began starring in the HBO series The Young Pope, about a fictional, unorthodox American pontiff. While his portrayal of the head of the Catholic Church predictably ruffled some feathers, he garnered a Golden Globe nomination for his performance, with the show also earning a pair of Emmy nods. Law returned for the follow-up series, titled The New Pope, in January 2020.
‘King Arthur,’ ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ ‘Captain Marvel’
The acclaimed actor continued to make his presence felt on the big screen with his roles in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), as the ruthless king Vortigern, and in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), as the great wizard Albus Dumbledore. He then played the titular superhero’s guardian-turned-foe in Captain Marvel (2019), before assuming another mentor role for the vigilante flick The Rhythm Section (2020).
Law and Frost were married in 1997 and have three children: son Rafferty (b. 1996), daughter Iris (b. 2000) and son Rudy (b. 2002). In 2003, Frost filed for divorce. Law was later engaged to actress Sienna Miller, who co-starred with him in Alfie. The couple spit in 2006 after Law admitted to having an affair with his children’s nanny.
Law has a child with model Samantha Burke from a brief relationship in 2008. Their daughter Sophia was born in 2009.
In October 2014, Law confirmed that he and his former girlfriend Catherine Harding, a.k.a Cat Cavelli, were expecting a child together. They welcomed a daughter in March 2015.
The actor married business psychologist Phillipa Coan at London’s Old Marylebone Town Hall on April 30, 2019.