Jude Law has received whistles and cheers at a production of Hamlet in which he plays the title role.
The play is directed by Michael Grandage and also stars Penelope Wilton as Gertrude.
Law mouthed “thank you” at the audience for their reception.
Law played the role with ruffled hair and wearing dark clothing. Cast members were dressed in modern-day costume on the sparsely lit stage which had a grey stone background.
Law played the role with a lightness of touch that raised laughter in the right places.
His “to be or not to be” speech was delivered amid a backdrop of falling snow.
Doctor Who star David Tennant recently played Hamlet in a critically acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production.
Law, 36, was recently quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying: “Hamlet is a bit like a great song that’s been covered by a load of different singers.”
He said it was a part he had always wanted to play, adding: “Every job is a little daunting. This is a little more daunting than others.”
Jude Law greets fans and signs autographs after his performance in ‘Hamlet’ at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London on May 31.
Jude Law is greeted by fans as he left via the stage door of the Donmar at the Wyndhams Theatre on May 29.
Jude says that he has been let down so many times in life that he has developed an empathy with his onstage character Hamlet.
The’ Cold Mountain’s star claims he has been let down by a lot of people and feels that his life mirrors that of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The 36-year-old actor who has three children, Rafferty, 12, Iris, eight and six-year-old Rudy, with ex-wife Sadie Frost said that he has lost trust in people because of the way he has been treated.
Speaking about the tragic character the actor said,”We’ve just been rehearsing the scene when Hamlet meets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and it’s all about defining who you can and can’t trust.”
“I’m a lot more cynical now than I was. I used to have optimism and the belief that people would usually do the right thing, and that has been somewhat tainted by experience, which I think mirrors Hamlet’s journey. He’s let down by people,”Law added.
The actor said that earlier he was reluctant and worried about playing the legendary role but later on found courage to accept the offer.
Thanks to Kim Fox from Hello Canada magazine, we know they are running a “Most Dashing Daddies” poll. Jude has unbelievably low number of votes so please vote!
The results will be published in the special Father’s Day issue of Hello Canada magazine on June 4!
Jude Law and Michael Grandage talk to theatre critic Charles Spencer about their production of Hamlet at the Wyndham’s Theatre as part of the Donmar Warehouse’s year-long West End season.
The Donmar Warehouse’s year-long season in the West End reaches its climax this week with the opening of Hamlet, starring Jude Law in the title role. It is the first time Michael Grandage has directed the play, the first time Jude Law has played this most testing of dramatic roles.
Theatre critic Charles Spencer was allowed to watch a rehearsal, including such key scenes as Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost on the battlements of Elsinore, the “To be or not to be” soliloquy, and the bruising encounter with Ophelia in the nunnery scene. There was a constant, free-flowing exchange of thoughts and ideas between actor and director and in the fourth week of rehearsals Law already seemed an exceptionally promising Hamlet — intelligent, witty, raw with grief, and displaying an impressive mastery of the verse.
After the rehearsal actor and director agreed to an exclusive interview about the play.
Charles Spencer Is Hamlet the greatest play ever written?
Michael Grandage I think this is a play you could direct for the rest of your life in different productions and probably always feel you were getting something new out of it. By that definition it must be one of the greatest plays ever written, if not the greatest. Every single day the play confounds you.
Jude Law When he wrote Hamlet Shakespeare was at his height in editing the narrative, in pushing the story forward, cleanly and crisply. Just in story-telling terms it is exquisitely put together. And the role itself is so full of hidden chambers and new discoveries. It just goes on forever.
CS What do you think the play is about?
JL A couple of thoughts spring to mind about the meaning of the play. One is that one must suffer in order to gain wisdom, the second that life is a journey, and it is the journey itself that matters, not arriving at your destination.
CS Is Hamlet mad or is he merely adopting an “antic disposition”?
JL I think that the madness of Ophelia is important. It is as if Shakespeare wanted to show what madness is really like, in comparison to Hamlet’s feigned madness. But I think there is a moment after Polonius’s death when Hamlet does come close to madness himself. But he is also the wisest, sanest man in the play.
CS Jude, you last appeared on stage in 2002 in Dr Faustus. It must be scary to return to the stage in such a huge role as Hamlet, by far the longest in Shakespeare.
JL It’s a part I have always wanted to play. I admire and love the play, and have seen many productions of it. And I needed to think about doing it soon because of my age. I’m not 22 anymore [he’s 36]. Every job is a little daunting. This is a little more daunting than the others. But when you stop and consider the beauty and brilliance of the play, it’s a no-brainer. It’s like, God, I’ve been asked – I’m going to do it.
CS Did you learn the role before you started rehearsals?
JL I did and I didn’t. I avoided it for a long time. At first I read around the play, a wonderful indulgence to be able to study the period, different opinions, authors Shakespeare probably read, like Montaigne. Then I had a month or so studying the text. And I found learning it on my own much harder than I have since we stood up and worked on it together as a company.
MG It’s worth saying that you were off the book pretty much by week two, though, which is a big feat. We also worked on the soliloquies together before everyone else joined us. They are like the signposts of the play. If you can get the soliloquies under your belt before the main rehearsals start, and the fight at the end, you are off to a good start. The last thing you want to do when you are grappling with the complexities of the role and coming up to opening night is to start worrying about sword-fighting lessons, too.
CS Jude, have there ever been any dark moments when you’ve been seized with terror and thought “Aaargh I can’t do this”?
JL Yes, of course, several. But there have also been moments of bliss and ecstasy. There is such a joy in saying these phenomenal lines. And being able to offer them to others.
MG As a director I try to use anxiety in a positive way. I know that when you are playing this part there are moments when you have everything from self-doubt to total panic. The mark of an actor is how you channel those fears so something positive comes out of it. And I’m intrigued by you, Jude. You are very positive. You see it as a challenge rather than as a mountain that can’t be climbed.
JL It’s a relief that no one can do the definitive Hamlet. It’s too big for that. But you can do an enormous amount. And you need to concentrate on what you can do.
CS But it must be daunting following David Tennant and that vast pantheon of previous famous Hamlets?
JL You have to forget all that. Hamlet is a bit like a great song that’s been covered by a load of different singers. It’s like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell all covering the same song. But they would each bring a different sound and colour to it.
MG We also know that many in the audience will be seeing the play for the first time. Apart from anything else we have to make the story clear to those who haven’t seen it before. That’s exciting. Part of the play is that it is a really good thriller.
CS Jude, film or theatre – which do you prefer?
JL I started in the theatre. And I love the rehearsal process. It’s when you feel at your most alive as an actor.
CS Hamlet lives his life in the public eye, being watched, and spied on. As a film star you have constantly been in the public eye, too. Has the similarity struck you?
JL I hadn’t thought of it like that, but you’re right, that fits. We’ve just been rehearsing the scene when Hamlet meets Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and it’s all about defining who you can and can’t trust. That strikes a chord. I’m a lot more cynical now than I was. I used to have optimism and the belief that people would usually do the right thing and that has been somewhat tainted by experience, which I think mirrors Hamlet’s journey. He’s let down by people.
CS At the end of the play does Hamlet achieve a state of spiritual enlightenment or is he just fatalistic?
MG I think we definitely have a sense of spirituality at the end, as opposed to mere fatalism. The play seems to me to be a great play if it becomes a spiritual one. Fate plays a huge part in it, but at the end something else happens.
CS Hamlet’s lines about there being a special providence in the fall of a sparrow seem specifically Christian and surely suggest someone who has finally found faith and acceptance.
MG Hamlet is in touch with something again. The writing is so on the money at this point in the play. It’s as if a light has come on.
JL It’s that sense of wisdom after suffering that I mentioned earlier.
CS Do you feel that Shakespeare had personal experience of clinical depression? One of the worst things about depression is that it makes it terribly hard to do anything – one of the great themes of the play.
MG I suffered depression earlier in my life and I see it very strongly in the play. And in fact we are setting the play in a modern post-Freudian world because we want to give these themes of paranoia and depression a context people can relate to. What’s extraordinary is that Shakespeare didn’t have labels like depression and paranoia. He clearly had a great depth of understanding about the way the mind can sink.
CS How long do you have to rehearse this hugely complex play? And after four productions on the trot, Michael, aren’t you feeling knackered?
MG Jude and I had a week together of preparation, and then it’s five weeks of rehearsal with the full company. I’m not knackered. I love this job. And the West End season has been a great success, particularly in terms of attracting new and young audiences, quite a few of them going to the theatre for the first time. The fact that Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench and Jude all committed a year and a half in advance meant we built up really healthy box-office advance that has allowed us to do the season. And they are all doing it on basic company wages.
CS How much are you being paid to play this most daunting of roles, Jude?
JL I couldn’t possibly divulge that.
MG He’s getting £750 a week, just like everyone else!