Monarchy is 'theatre', says Jude Law
CANNES, France: Jude Law has become an immediate awards contender for his demonic performance as English King Henry VIII at Cannes, but he told reporters on Monday that he sees the current British monarchy as "theatre".
"I am not one for gossip... I don't really enjoy following tittle-tattle stories," Law said when asked about the soap opera that currently surrounds the royal family.
"I kind of see it like theatre, although I am slightly more obsessed by theatre," he added.
Law gives a brutish, scene-stealing turn as the 16th-century wife-killing monarch in "Firebrand", which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival late Sunday.
Fat, fuming and with a stomach-turning infection in his leg, Law's version of Henry is one of the more disgusting tyrants ever put on film.
To recreate the atmosphere, Law said he went to a perfume-maker who mixed up "puss, blood, fecal matter and sweat" for him to use.
"Initially I used it very subtly," he said.
But when director Karim Ainouz got hold of it, "there was a spray fest!" he added.
His co-star Alicia Vikander, who plays Henry's sixth and final wife Catherine Parr, joked that the camera and boom operators were struggling not to puke from the smell.
"When he walked on set, it was just horrible," said Ainouz, laughing.
- 'Act of justice' -
"Firebrand" focuses on Vikander's Parr, the only of Henry's wives to outlive him and the first English woman to publish a book in her own name.
It received fairly positive reviews at Cannes, though there is already controversy over its surprising and ahistorical ending.
Variety called it "pure fantasy, rewriting Parr's legacy with flagrant disregard for the facts".
But Ainouz told AFP that "the twist at the end is a necessary act of vengeance".
As a Brazilian-Algerian, he said there was also "a small act of justice" in telling the history of England on the cusp of its colonial takeovers.
Vikander told AFP she was drawn to Parr as "extremely intelligent and extremely progressive... and a woman who survived a tyrant for several years".
But Law said he needed to understand Henry as more than just a monster.
"There are so many layers to his behaviour -- the abuse he received as a child, separated from his family, brought up under guard to become a king, fed the lies that he is second only to God... what does that do to someone?" he said.
Deadline was among those gushing over Law's performance, saying he "is truly becoming the consummate character actor of his generation".