Jude Law Learns Harpsichord for ‘Firebrand’ Role, Driving Family ‘Crazy’

Law learned the harpsichord for his role as Henry VIII in “Firebrand,” driving family “crazy”

Jude Law in LA in 2022. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, STEVE GRANITZ/FILMMAGIC)
Jude Law in LA in 2022. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, STEVE GRANITZ/FILMMAGIC)

Jude Law is no stranger to picking up new skills for his film roles, and his latest project, “Firebrand,” is no exception.

The 51-year-old actor, known for his versatility and commitment, took on the challenge of learning the harpsichord for his portrayal of Henry VIII in the historical drama, now playing in theaters.

Law’s career spans three decades and includes a diverse array of characters, each requiring its own set of unique abilities.

Over the years, he has mastered fencing for “Peter Pan & Wendy,” ballet for “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” and saxophone for “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

Despite his extensive experience, the harpsichord posed a new level of difficulty for him.

“Harpsichord was hard!” Law admitted to PEOPLE. “I play a bit of piano, but there’s a different weight and a different timing to the harpsichord because it’s plucking the strings, instead of hitting them with hammers.”

Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law The Film 'AI'. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, DAVID JAMES/SHUTTERSTOCK)
Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law The Film ‘AI’. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, DAVID JAMES/SHUTTERSTOCK)

His dedication to mastering the instrument involved repeatedly playing the same tune, much to the chagrin of his family and friends. “I drove my friends and family crazy playing this one tune over and over and over,” he said with a laugh.

Law’s commitment paid off when it came time to film the scene. Determined to showcase his hard work, he insisted that director Karim Aïnouz include a close-up of his hands during the performance.

“I said, ‘You’ve got to make sure everyone knows it’s me, this thing that’s been on my back for months!'” he shared.

However, despite his intense preparation, Law doesn’t plan to continue playing the harpsichord.

Reflecting on past experiences, he recalled learning the saxophone for “The Talented Mr. Ripley” with the intention of making it a long-term hobby. “And it’s still in its case in my office, so… that never happened!” he admitted.

While he may not continue with the harpsichord, Law joked about his fencing skills from “Peter Pan & Wendy.” “The fencing that I learned, I have no great need to do anymore.

Jude Law and Alicia Vikander in Firebrand. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, LARRY HORRICKS)
Jude Law and Alicia Vikander in Firebrand. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, LARRY HORRICKS)

But I like to think if someone needed me in a sword fight, I’d be quite handy. I mean, hopefully that will never be tested.”

In “Firebrand,” Law dives deep into the character of Henry VIII, a role that required not only physical skills but also an understanding of the historical figure’s complex psyche.

Working closely with director Karim Aïnouz, Law aimed to humanize Henry VIII, often depicted solely as a tyrant.

“The director gave me a really clear directive, which was this is a man, don’t see him as some great historical figure,” Law explained. “We wanted to understand him as a human.”

Law delved into the lesser-known aspects of Henry VIII’s early life to inform his portrayal. “What I didn’t really understand fully was how in a way he was mentally abused because he was never expecting to be king,” he said.

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Henry VIII was originally the second son, with his older brother destined for the throne. But when his brother died, young Henry’s life took a dramatic turn.

“He was suddenly whisked away from probably quite a happy family with his mother and aunts and put in house lockdown basically because he had to be protected,” Law recounted.

“Then he was trained up by the military and was sort of fed this sense that he was second only to God, which is a pretty hardcore thing to put on a young person.”

This unique perspective on Henry VIII’s upbringing helped shape Law’s portrayal of the king. “He was a bit of a rockstar when he was younger,” Law noted.

“He was a fighter, he could wrestle, he jousted, he rode horses, he danced, he wrote several songs that became hits around Europe. He kind of had it all.”

However, as Henry VIII grew older, his belief that he was divinely ordained led him down a path of absolute power.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Jude Law The Talented Mr Ripley in 1999. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, LANCE STAEDLER/PARAMOUNT/MIRAMAX/KOBAL/SHUTTERSTOCK)
Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Jude Law The Talented Mr Ripley in 1999. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, LANCE STAEDLER/PARAMOUNT/MIRAMAX/KOBAL/SHUTTERSTOCK)

“He grew up believing his place in the world really was only to answer to one, and that was God, and everyone else had to do his bidding,” Law said. “Which sets you on a pretty distinctive path!”

Through his immersive preparation and thoughtful interpretation, Jude Law brings a nuanced and humanized Henry VIII to life in “Firebrand,” showcasing yet another example of his dedication to his craft.

News Source: People Magazine

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