If you only look at his filmography, you might think Jude Law has been somewhat wanting for work in recent years because while he’s appeared in a dozen films since 2009 they have mostly been supporting roles. However, when Law isn’t on a movie screen he can often be found on a stage, as he is currently in a West End production of Henry V. In a conversation with USA Today, Law explains why he continues to go back to theater (and Shakespeare specifically) and what he finds different between his film roles and theater roles.
Law insists that theater “is what made me want to become an actor. The idea of not indulging myself in the thing I really love would seem insane to me.” He later points out that his desire to do theater might are tied to his original aspirations to be an actor, since he did not believe he would have the opportunity to become a film actor. He explains, “I grew up in a time and a place in London where being in movies didn’t seem feasible. But there was a local theater. I wanted a way in, even if it meant beating down the doors of those buildings. I didn’t have to do that, luckily.”
Though Law starred in a production of Hamlet in 2009 which played on both sides of the Atlantic, he admits that he was “very, very keen to do another Shakespeare part. When I first discussed doing Hamlet five or six years ago, Henry was also on the list of roles I wanted to get before I turned 40 or 41, which is the age that I’m at” (Law turned 41 on December 28).
Though Shakespeare is a common thread throughout his career, he has also made an effort to take on a variety of roles. He says, “I’ve always wanted to play different things with different people. Variety is the spice of the job.” That point-of-view likely explains his frequent jumps between theater and film, which he sees as completely different challenges. He reveals, “Stage is just a different approach — like being on tour for a musician, as opposed to making an album. In the studio you have all these toys available to you, but when you’re live, you have that adrenaline rush from knowing that at 7:30, you’re on — and you’re off.”
Yet for someone who talks so much about variety and challenges, Law has no new projects lined up after Henry V ends February 15. He jokes, “I’ll be unemployed as of then. It’s not like I want to stop working — it’s not like I can. You’ve got to pay the bills, like everyone else.” However, he adds, “I’m not desperate. There’s a certain physical demand to doing eight shows a week, and I haven’t had a break in 18 months. By February I’ll be quite ready for a break, and I’m going to take one.”