The world of psychopharmacology is a tricky one to navigate, and one that Jude Law got first-hand experience with playing Dr. Jonathan Banks in Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects. In the story, the character not only faces accusations of moral misdoings when it comes to treating his patients – facing serious questions after use of a drug he prescribed leads to a violent episode – but is even shown to be a user himself. So how did the actor start looking through the eyes of Dr. Banks? With faith in psychopharmaceuticals.
CinemaBlend.com had the pleasure of sitting down with Jude to talk about taking on the project, what he believes the film has to say, and the importance of keeping a performance genuine.
When did you first get involved with this film, because I know that you worked with both Steven Soderbergh and Scott Z. Burns on Contagion before this.
I read it when I had just done Contagion just because Scott and I got on very well and he wanted me to read some of his stuff. And then Steven got involved and I ended up getting a call at the beginning of the year… no, it was over Christmas break, actually, and I got on-board.
Was it something that he mentioned while you were making Contagion or…
No, no, Steven wasn’t involved by that point. He got involved later. I read it and I knew it… but they tweaked it a little bit.
How did they change it?
Just little things about order. When you got to see about [Rooney Mara’s character]’s life – her past life with her husband and all that stuff. Subtle changes.
So not like an overhaul.
Scott had been working on it for a good eight, nine years – the idea of this project.
The following ‘Side Effects’ clip features on Dr. Johnathan Banks, played by Jude, who is determined to figure out why his life is unraveling before his eyes while his wife (Vinessa Shaw) tries to knock some sense into him. Check out the clip below.
Indiewire sat down with Jude in Los Angeles to talk about working with Soderbergh for second time, who’s on his wishlist of directors to work with in the future, and what it’s like to face off with Rooney Mara.
“Side Effects” came his way after getting along well with Scott Burns on “Contagion.”
“I read it just after ‘Contagion’ because I got along well with Scott. He had it and had been working on it for a long time,” Law said. “At that stage, Steven wasn’t involved. And then, I got one of those very fortunate phone calls. Steven wanted it to be his next film, and when someone like him asks you, you go do it because you know it’s going to be intelligent, smart, it’ll look good [and] it’s a pleasure to make. The fact that it’s also a really interesting piece of work, an interesting character, it’s a very easy decision.”
Having been exposed to Soderbergh’s on-set working style (usually acting as his own DP), Law was prepared for the easy-going process.
“…he makes it very easy. He makes really important decisions, but kind of simply. Little things like really going to the locations, the real place, immediately you’ve got an authenticity, that you don’t have to recreate—you’re in it, you’re being genuine,” Law explained about Soderbergh’s style.
Jude talks to Huffington Post about the joys of working with the now-retired Steven Soderbergh, why “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is better than “Sherlock Holmes,” and whether he thinks we take him for granted?
I very much enjoyed “Side Effects.” Though, with Sundance, I’ve seen 23 movies since “Side Effects” — but I still remember it well.
That’s some task.
The lack of sleep is the task.
Did you get any skiing in?
There was no time.
It doesn’t sound like it.
With you starring and Steven Soderbergh directing, I was fairly sure this wouldn’t turn into a “wrongfully accused” courtroom drama, but I’m very glad this wasn’t a “wrongfully accused” courtroom drama.
No, it steps into the shoes of films like “Double Indemnity” and “Body Heat” — the film with a twist. You know, it’s entertaining. But, at the same time, it’s nice to be in something that has a subject matter that’s so thought provoking and timely. And it does it in a very subtle and intelligent way, you can’t help but come out and have an opinion and a sense of what one’s relation with prescription pills is. And, at the same time, it’s a ride — because the characters and your loyalty to certain characters shifts and change all the time.
What were your initial thoughts about how to play Dr. Banks in “Side Effects?”
I wanted to make it very clear that this guy was good at what he did, and was aware of the sense of boundaries, of when and how a situation may arise for a psychiatrist and where it will impact his or her private life. But we’re also telling a story. So as an actor, at some point you have to work out where the drama is best played out. As the story dictates, his life starts to implodes, so it was important to me to have a sense of him kind of crumbling. At the same time there was a beautiful subtlety to the story, where you’re not sure whether he’s got the upper hand or whether there’s a time where you think he’s going mad.
Did playing the part make you feel any differently about psychiatrists?
A lot of the discussion around this film is about the abuse of medicine or perhaps relying on medicine for all the wrong reasons. Of course medicine is used for a lot of good reasons, too. I kind of left this job feeling very respectful of psychiatry as a profession.
Jude attended the premiere of his film ‘Side Effects’ during the 2013 Berlinale International Film Festival held at the Berlinale Palast on February 12 in Berlin, Germany. Jude was joined at the event by his co-star Rooney Mara and the director Steven Soderbergh. Photos from the premiere can now be seen in our gallery.
I’ve had a very busy month at work, so I apologize for adding all of these photos just now. I’ll do my best to catch up on everything in the following days.
Over 400 HQ screen captures from ‘Anna Karenina’ have been to added to our gallery. If you have not seen the movie yet, it is available now on Blu-ray Combo Pack with DVD, Digital Copy and UltraViolet.