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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 October, 2004, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
What's it all about ... Alfie
On Sunday, 17, October 2004, Sir David Frost interviewed the actor, Jude Law.

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Jude Law
Jude Law

DAVID FROST: And now Jude Law. Well he's regularly billed as the hottest young British film star.

Acclaimed for his parts in films like Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr Ripley, he's now been cast as the lead in remake of the legendary Sixties hit, Alfie.

I saw the film on Thursday night, he gives a virtuoso performance.

He says he doesn't much like doing television interviews and rarely agrees to them, but last week we met up in a cinema near his North London home.

It was the morning after the world premiere of Alfie.

There's not been a lot of Alfie in your life really - I mean you didn't have time to have an Alfie period, really, because you were going steady by the age of 21 and married by 24, so I mean were you ever an Alfie?

JUDE LAW: I tried to be -

DAVID FROST: [LAUGHS]

JUDE LAW: - in my late teens, somewhat unsuccessfully, I seem to remember, and I don't know whether it's because of my family - you know, I think I'm one of the few who still have parents who are together after 36 years - and it was just not the sort of map that I had in my hands.

You know, I was always happiest, I suppose, in a relationship. I fell in love very young and wanted to marry and, and was fortunate enough to have children and I'm still in a very happy relationship, so -

DAVID FROST: Do you disapprove of Alfie a bit, or the character you play, in a way?

JUDE LAW: No I wouldn't say I disapproved of him. I know a few Alfies, both men and women, and I think that sense of - it's not the grass is green - it's always thinking there must be a better party to go to, it's always thinking that, that, you know, I like this person, but, you know, I just want to keep my options - I just think there's a sense, there's such a lack of kind grounding to that approach to life, to a relationship, and I think all the strength I've managed to gather from my, from being in a solid relationship, from having children and committing, I suppose, going through the hard times, is, is probably what enables me to get up in the morning and go to work and live a kind of, a good life.

DAVID FROST: I think Sienna was quoted, maybe accurately or not, but as saying that she found the Michael Caine version more cruel, and difficult to watch. Do you think that Michael Caine's Alfie was more cruel than your Alfie?

JUDE LAW: I think, I think there's a, there's a - there's a definitely a crueller streak to him. I think he's slightly more seductive, this one, he's slightly more persuasive and generous with the, with the ladies.

DAVID FROST: Well let's, let's take a look at Alfie right now.

[FILM CLIP]

DAVID FROST: Tell me, Jude, did you always want to be an actor, from the very word go?

JUDE LAW: I think when I was very, very small, I wanted to be a clown - because I was obsessed with Charlie Chaplin, when I was about five or six. And uh, and then I went through the usual period, from about 12 to 15, of wanting to be a footballer.

DAVID FROST: Yeah.

JUDE LAW: I think it happens to every boy that grows up in England - or Britain - and um, but acting is always something that I enjoyed.

DAVID FROST: Acting is very much the situation where for many years you could be not in control of your destiny, isn't it? I mean it's quite tough in that sense - waiting for the phone to ring, as it where.

JUDE LAW: Yeah. It was - yes - it's interesting actually, the words of advice you get when you announce that you want to be an actor aged sort of 17 or 18 or 19 - you know - and I remember filling out one of those peculiar forms at school which are then fed into a computer and they tell you what you are going to be and I think I came out as being an architect or something like that. And I said to my headmaster -

DAVID FROST: - at least it wasn't a chartered accountant -

JUDE LAW: - or a lawyer - but they said, I remember he, I said, ... this is wrong I'm going to be an actor, I want to be an actor. I remember then, sit down, sit down Law, let me tell you, now this is a real risk, you're not going to work, there's no money in it, there's no security - he was absolutely right. He was absolutely right - it's a very treacherous path.

DAVID FROST: When did it cease being tough?

JUDE LAW: A certain turning point in my life and in my career around the time of The Talented Mr Ripley, because it felt very much as if the profile of that piece, and the fact that Anthony had been so successful with The English Patient, Gwyneth was about to win an Oscar, Matt had already won an Oscar, it just felt that the attention of the industry, and indeed the cinema-going world, was very much on that film.

And therefore I knew stepping into the job, even before we shot a days footage, that it was going to have an audience. It just felt that, yes, that was probably a shift in gears.

DAVID FROST: And now, what would you say is the feeling of being hot? How does it feel to be hot? Everyone says you're hot - hottest - hot, hot, hotter, hottest, as they would say.

JUDE LAW: Ah - I think when you're hot you really want to cool down. You want a long cold drink and you need some air. I, I - it's unusual in this country you feel somewhat scrutinised, and yet at the same time you feel like you are at a sort of, like at a sort of reunion almost, it's like people are very um - I don't know, you realise the size of this country when, when there's almost like sort of no escaping yourself. And the people are very generous in that way, on the street and in shops and whatever, but at the same time there's the obvious sort of tabloid attention, the scrutiny which is uncomfortable.

DAVID FROST: That was, that's one of the minuses.

JUDE LAW: Mm.

DAVID FROST: And what makes it really uncomfortable - I mean obviously you believe in the freedom of the press and all those things and so on, but, but certain things you don't believe in their freedom to do. I mean what's the dividing line, really, do you think?

JUDE LAW: I just think, I think it's a terrible shame that the editors aren't recognising their responsibility more. Because I do believe in the freedom of the press but unfortunately it seems that the freedom the press stretches too making, is making stuff up in order to sell a paper, and not recognising that it, the effect it then has on someone's personal life and family and it just seems so careless and nasty.

DAVID FROST: Is the lack of privacy, invasion of privacy, or inaccuracy of fact, lack of fact - which is the worst?

JUDE LAW: I - I think actually invasion of privacy, because lack, you, you end up - I mean it depends what they've written - but you end up, in the end, being able to sometimes laugh at the ridiculousness of stuff they make up but the constant sort of attention by, because the, and hounding by photographers and uh, that, that sort of physical sort of violation almost.

DAVID FROST: The advantages of fame and success still outweigh the disadvantages - you still want the fame and the success?

JUDE LAW: Well I think you - I don't know about the fame, I mean I'd like, I became an actor to act and I'm really, I'm delighted that I've got to a point where I'm working with people I admire hugely, that I'm learning an awful lot from, that I'm performing in, in pieces that I really believe in, that I'm proud of, I've always enjoyed being a part of stories that I believe should be told and be out there - you know, I didn't really get into it to become famous and - but you're absolutely right, I don't want to moan and bitch about the press.

DAVID FROST: And one thing you said about - I think you said this of ... - that, that the thing about life is, and movies or whatever, it's the journey you've got to enjoy -

JUDE LAW: Very much so.

DAVID FROST: - rather than the product.

JUDE LAW: Well because I -

DAVID FROST: It's an interesting thought.

JUDE LAW: - I mean I can't - when I sit and watch a film that I'm in, even if it's, you know, in the hands of a brilliant director and editor, I can't help but remember 'oh yeah, that was that day,' or 'oh they used that shot, that's me, because I remember thinking, you know, I was thinking like' and you can see the pieces that, that went together to make the whole.

It's almost impossible not to remember the experience, so my experience of the films I make is the journey, it's the making of it. And it's also not worrying at the end of the day about, of lot, you know, how much money is it making, how, what do the critics make of it - it's enjoying what you've done in making it.

DAVID FROST: As a single father, what do you think of this movement, you know, the whole business of Fathers for Justice and what Bob Geldof has been saying about single fathers not getting a fair deal?

JUDE LAW: I don't know enough about the actual facts of where and how the single fathers stand to really comment on it. But I do know that the initial, the immediate sort of assumption that children should go with the mother is, to me, seems unfair.

And I think it's rather unfair that society has encouraged the increased involvement by fathers into families and children, you know, it used to be a given that they would pat them on the head and go to work - jolly good, you know, morning sir - and that, you know now it's like no, no, the new man, we need the new man, and yet there's still, it seems to be the sort of cut and divide, if a family breaks up.

DAVID FROST: Because one of the simple things that's difficult is zipping between films in Los Angeles and London and children of eight and five, isn't it? I mean that's a simple problem.

JUDE LAW: It is. It is and it isn't. I used to, I, I had a - I had a problem with, a far bigger problem with that when I started acting because I resisted the fact that it's a very exciting environment for kids that they are, you are able to bring them to the countries to, to parts of the world, meeting people, you know, that they otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to meet - and if you don't embrace it you're sort of shooting yourself in the foot really.

It just takes a lot of organising. I mean I'm about to go away in December and I'm already sort of planning the logistics of getting them out there when the half terms are - can we expand the half terms a little bit, can we, you know - and I think, I think they'll have a lot of fun in, in and around the bayou in Louisiana.

DAVID FROST: One question I must ask you, I've been reading for weeks that you're engaged - and then I read in the Evening Standard today that Sienna, if correctly quoted, says you're not. What's - what's the fact?

JUDE LAW: Well it was rather shocking. You know, we're very, very happy and very much together and, and then a couple of weeks ago we woke up and we read on the front page of a paper that we're engaged.

And it's, there's nothing more uncomfortable than being very happy and very much together and then receiving endless phone calls from the family and press, saying well done - because then you have to deny it, and then denying it suddenly everyone says 'oh is there a problem?'

No, there's no problem, we're just not engaged, so - no we're not engaged but we're very much together.


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.


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