Jude Law
The actor on media pressure, Anthony Minghella and break-ins.

9 October 2007

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“The thing that pisses me off most about London is that there is a man in my garden with a camera and there’s nothing I can do about it and the remarkable thing is…they never get parking tickets.”

It was a candid and passionate Jude Law sitting before me today. It is fair to say that he has officially broken through the glass ceiling and made it into the Hollywood elite. He is one of the most sought after actors in the world today and, yet, this Jude Law was coming across as an easily identifiable North London guy, not at all what I was expecting.

In his latest film, Breaking and Entering, Jude plays Will, who runs a flourishing landscape architectural firm with his friend Sandy. The film tells the story of a series of criminal and emotional thefts, set against the backdrop of London’s changing culture and geography. Will’s state-of-the-art studio office repeatedly attracts the attention of a local gang of thieves and, after another break in, he chases one of the young gang members home to the apartment he shares with his mother Amira, a Bosnian refugee. Despite having a long-term girlfriend with a troubled 13-year old daughter, Will befriends Amira to further investigate the burglary but their relationship takes an unexpected turn. With his life in already in crisis, Will embarks on a passionate journey into the wilder side of both himself and the city.

Jude Law was raised in London and the setting is a huge part of the film and despite making the majority of his films being made outside of the UK, he still feels very much at home. “I think it’s hard not to in London, any part of London,” says Jude “funnily enough the estate that we filmed for Amira’s home is a street over from where I live so I walked to work that day. So, “loveyland” wasn’t so far away from reality as you may think. I think that one of the wonders of London is that everyone rubs shoulders with everyone else…we’re rubbing up against each other on streets where we shop, where we eat and I think that’s what makes it such an exciting place. I don’t feel cocooned particularly though, perhaps if I’m chased I might do.”

Much more than the setting, the film’s title has been has been much too close to home for Jude in recent days. “Funnily enough,” he reveals “the mother of my kids was burgled yesterday evening while they were in the house”.

And so we come to the topic of break-ins. In the film, Jude handles the crime in a very unorthodox way. How would he handle it in real-life? “I think that one of the themes of this film that is most challenging but also the most heartening is the idea of forgiveness,” Jude tells me “and I would like to think that I am big enough to forgive and be part of a positive program to help somebody who is obviously in a situation where they feel they have to steal to provide for something whether it is an addiction or money. However, I also know myself as a bit of a reactionist so…” At this point Jude pauses, collecting his thoughts “Each situation is different…” he continues “I was particularly worried about this because my kids were in the house and I think that’s a different kind of burglar to one who breaks into an empty office and takes computers at night. Like Will, as you can see, I’m a sort of wishy-washy middle-class Londoner and don’t quite know where i stand on anything. So I’m at one with my character.”

Breaking and Entering reunites Law with director Anthony Minghella for their third outing together after The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain. So what is like working with Mr. Minghella yet again? “Well it certainly hasn’t got tougher,” says Jude “and I think what’s involved is a friendship first and foremost and therefore a sense of trust and understanding of each other and so if there’s a shorthand then its simply because we act, as one does with friends, one knows when someone gets it or it certainly doesn’t have to be re-iterated. Having said that, you know, the themes of this film are very interesting and very pertinent and relevant to everyone’s life, certainly to people living in and around London. So, there is an awful lot to talk about just because it’s very interesting, meaty stuff. Having said that, I think we remembered afterwards that we actually never sat down and discussed Will! I think we talked about the situations, we talked about the architectural practice an awful lot but we never discussed him and I think that was because, once Anthony had decided that I would play him and once I was asked to play him, it was sort of known…it just didn’t need to be discussed. So, our shorthand is silence.”

Now firmly established in Hollywood and with Anthony Minghella being a talented writer it is inevitable that one day we will see Jude on the London stage “I hope to be able to do a play. I just haven’t read one that I wanted to do” says Law.

With the interview approaching its end, we move onto the topic of the media and returning to his opening statement about paparazzi in his garden. So does this constant attention make the enjoyment of his professional life suffer?

“Luckily, just about the only thing it doesn’t affect is my professional life,” says Jude “and so very often work is a safe haven and a place where it doesn’t really have any effect. To be honest…if it did have an effect…I would probably…” Jude pauses, taking into consideration the ramifications of what he is about to say. “…erm…I don’t know…” he looks down and laughs to himself then pauses for a longer period of time, “…go live in the Isle of Wight.”