Jude Law on "Closer" and Being Named the Sexiest Man Alive

Jude Law Julia Roberts Closer
Jude Law and Julia Roberts in "Closer". © Sony Pictures

What do "Closer," "Alfie," "Lemony Snicket's," "I Heart Huckabees," "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," and "The Aviator" all have in common? Jude Law, or as People magazine now refers to him: the 'Sexiest Man Alive.' Sure, he's handsome. And talented? There's no disputing the man has what it takes. Whether it's playing a womanizing cad, saving lives as a dashing pilot, or, as in the case of "Closer," simply playing a flawed human being in search of the ideal love, Law doesn't merely get by on his charm and good looks.

No, he seems to get by despite his almost overwhelmingly handsome features. With six movies released in a matter of just a few months, Law's just hoping audiences don't tire of seeing his dashing mug on the big screen.

Jude Law has the distinction of being the only actor I've ever become tongue-tied interviewing. While asking Law about his work in "Sky Captain," he'd answer my questions and I'd completely space out on what he was talking about. It's the eyes, I swear it is. Even his co-stars say there's something almost hypnotic about him. Speaking to People, Law's "Cold Mountain" love interest Nicole Kidman said, "His warmth is what makes him sexy, and it radiates through his eyes." Thank you Nicole Kidman. I feel vindicated.

Getting back to the topic at hand - Law's role in "Closer" - here's what one of the busiest actors on earth had to say about working on "Closer" and working with director Mike Nichols.

Law also provides an update on a potential "Sky Captain" sequel, shares his thoughts on "Alfie," and talks about being labeled the Sexiest Man Alive:

INTERVIEW WITH JUDE LAW ('Dan'):

What about the source material attracted you to this movie? Had you seen the play before working on the film?
I saw the play when Clive [Owen] was in it and I saw it again in the West End.

I'd seen Patrick [Marber's] first play, "Dealer's Choice," and I was also a big fan of Patrick's work prior to that with "Alan Partridge" and "The Day Today," and I was just desperate to work with him. Then, to have a call from Mike Nichols who was working on Patrick's script was just a team made in heaven, really.

What did you like about the script?
I liked its honesty. I liked the fact that there was such a condensed arc of a journey for each and everyone, that there was an opportunity for each and everyone to show just about everything - vulnerability, strength, anger, innocence, cynicisms. And I just liked the words. I think the words walk a very, very fine line of being at times, being very much sort of very, very dramatic and other times unbelievably realistic. Personally, to me that's what it's all about - great words. I like great writing, and it was clear that this was great writing.

Would you say these characters are a little vicious?
I don't think that they’re vicious. What you underestimate is what you don’t see. It’s a condensed version of four years in these people lives. In between these moments of falling in love and splitting up, there’s an awful lot of, as we all experience, happiness and joy and you can’t underestimate that.

It’s an amalgamation of the high points, the dramas of life. I remember Mike describing [it] once and I think if you do look back say 10 years ago, you talk about a relationship, you say, “Well, yeah, I met her at this garden party and anyway, four years later we split up.” You don’t necessarily go through that whole four years of memories, how you met, how they split up. So I think to call them vicious is very unfair unless, indeed, we’re all vicious, which maybe we are.

Your character sets up Clive Owen’s character, Larry. Isn’t it vicious the way he traps Larry?
I’m not saying they’re not vicious. I’m just saying that just to accuse them of being vicious and nothing else is not [fair]. They’re not just vicious people. There are vicious acts, indeed.

So why do you think he does that?
It’s certainly not malicious.

He doesn’t know who this guy is. He does it as a whim.

Is he trying to embarrass Julia Roberts’ character?
I think it’s fate playing evil tricks. I think it’s as simple as him passing time, and it’s very clear that this woman is on his mind. He dips into what he knows about, which is her name and her haunts and her interests.

What were rehearsals like?
It was an opportunity to get to know each other, really. There were a lot of conversations that kind of came out of the script that sort of branched off. It was a process of learning to understand the piece, understand Mike's overall view of the piece, understand each other's opinions, stirring questions, share experiences, listen to music.

PAGE 2: Jude Law on the Missing "Closer" Years, "Alfie," and "Sky Captain 2"

Did you fill in the missing years that are skipped over in "Closer?"
From the beginning, I think, I remember Mike saying, "You've got to look at it like this: boy meets girl, boy meets girl, boy meets girl, boy meets boy, girl meets boy ..." That's the structure of the piece. We filled in all the in-between parts. I think the opening sequence with Dan and Alice is incredibly romantic, and I'd love to have a day like that. And same with [Clive Owen and Julia Roberts' meeting]. What it turned into is a wonderful moment.

What makes working with director Mike Nichols so special?
Personally, what struck me when I first met him was obviously, you go to meet someone like Mike who has achieved and created so much and he comes with such generous wisdom. He’s someone who’s experienced and accumulated a huge amount of experience and understanding of the world. And then sort of holds reverence with it. He sort of takes you into his world very abrasively. And actually, going with what Natalie [Portman has] said about [being a mix of] adult and child, he’s absolutely the perfect example of that. He has [an] impish humor and outlook on life. He also has a deep sort of sensitive understanding of life. He’s fun to be around and he’s so inspiring. It’s a great mix.

Can you pick a favorite scene from the film that involves the other actors?
I think Clive's scene with Julia where he comes back from New York is amazing because it's such an intimate piece.

Of course it's probably obvious, but none of us were there when the others were doing their thing, so I knew the scene and I love that scene, but it blew away all my expectations. I think it's absolutely brilliant. And I think Natalie's amazing in the scene when I come home and dump her. It absolutely broke my heart on the day [of shooting] and more so when I saw it back.

One of your other movies, “Alfie,” was just released a few weeks ago. What do you think of that movie’s reception?
Gosh, lots of things. Critically, I was thrilled that people seemed to get it. The irony was that in England it got really bad reviews and it stayed at No. 1 for like two weeks, three weeks. Here, we got fantastic reviews and no one went to see it. I mean, the fact that they moved the date into the path of "The Incredibles" to me was utter nonsense. Why they did that, I have no idea.

You've got to believe in the things you do in the moment and try to get from the moment enough of a sense of achievement and self-pride. And you can't kind of get beaten down if it's [not well-received]. I think it's a very cynical world if a film's life is all about an opening weekend and how much money it makes. I'm sure [there’s] a list the length of the red states of great films that never made any money that are still [popular]. And I'm very proud of it. I did it for very personal reasons. And I'm proud of what I got from it, what I learned from it. It's not to say there wasn't a little dusting down [mimes dusting himself off] the day after. “Well, I guess I'll pick myself up. But so be it.

Hey, I've got ‘Closer’ coming out.”

Will there be another "Sky Captain"?
Yeah. I mean, there might be. I don't know. I don't really plan that far ahead. Obviously I'm here with this film and I'm in rehearsals for another. I'm in rehearsals for "All the King's Men."

Is being named the "Sexiest Man Alive" a welcome accolade or a burden?
I think it's a bit of both, really. There's been nasty things written and nice things written. I choose not to read any because then you have to believe both. And as I said…never believe anything you read in the press. Oh, I said that to the wrong people.

Matt Damon says you ran a better campaign.
Yeah, I put a lot of time in it.