Sharon Knolle Freelance Writer

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Variety Int'l Star of the Year: Jude Law

'Mountain' climber

Busy thesp piles up the prestigious pic projects

By SHARON KNOLLE

Jude Law's future includes stints with quite the range of names, from directors Martin Scorsese and John Madden to co-stars Jim Carrey, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman.

Fresh from "Cold Mountain," he's already wrapped "a quick brush-stroke impression" of swashbuckling star Errol Flynn in Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic "The Aviator."

"That's going to be a very exciting piece because it's a way for Martin Scorsese to show his extraordinary love of that period in Hollywood," says Law, who co-stars with DiCaprio, who plays Hughes, and Cate Blanchett, as Katharine Hepburn.

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"Martin was very generous with letting me squeeze as much of Errol as I could into five days and one scene. It's very fleeting. I hope it stays in the picture."

The sci-fi adventure "The World of Tomorrow," in which Law co-stars opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, is in post-production.

"It was like being 7-year-olds playing make-believe because we sat in front of a bluescreen for the majority of' the day," he says. "We had at most a bit of a cockpit or a bit of a joystick in my hand, and everything else was going  to be added later. Rather than being intimidating, it was strangely freeing, like being in the theater again."

The actor will essay his first comedic role for director David O. Russell in "I Heart Huckabee's," whose cast includes Hoffman, Naomi Watts and Mark Wahlberg.

"I met David for the first time about a year after 'Three Kings' had come out," recalls Law. "We had a really insane and spiritual dinner and when I got the script out of the post, it was like everything that had been germinating in my memory of meeting him all those years before.

"Working with him shifted a lot of the goals I'd always set myself. I left with a great confidence because he inspired a performance that I never thought I'd give."

Law is at work on a contemporary update of "Alfie" opposite Susan Sarandon, Jane Krakowoski and Marisa Tomei, for director Charles Shyer. "It's an interesting dynamic that this guy in his essence, Alfie Elkins still exists in the modern day," says Law of the role played by Michael Caine in the 1966 pic. "The scenarios that he goes through are the same as in the original film, but the women that are involved react and are very, very different in today's day and age."

Another project on the busy thesp's sked is the film adaptation of Patrick Marber's legit hit "Closer." "It's an extraordinary piece and the opportunity to work as a quartet of actors is quite rare nowadays,"' says Law, who stars with Roberts, Clive Owen and Natalie Portman. The drama, about marital infidelity, is set for a January start date.

"Mike Nichols is one of the directors I've so admired," says Law. "And Patrick Marber had already written a play that was so potent and immediately effective in its characters and its construct, it was clear it would make a great film. What Mike and Patrick have done with the screenplay is offer it very gently to the outside world, so there are slightly bigger setups. On the whole, it's two-handed or at most three-handed scenes in a small room somewhere."

Law flirts with big box office by taking on the title role of quirky children's book author in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," which will co-star Carrey and Streep. "I'm a huge fan of it," Law confirms. "I discovered it through my kids. I don't think they quite understand I'm doing it, they're still quite young. It's beautifully written. I loved how they've taken what I thought was a great book and the world of those books and so eloquently put it onto the page."

In April, Law, along with Keira Knightley, will begin filming "Tulip Fever" for director Madden, from a script by Tom Stoppard "It was the triptych of who had written it and who was directing it, and what the script was like, which was wonderful," raves Law. "I've known Tom Stoppard quite a long time through his son, and had got to know him through the work he'd done for the National Theater. And John Madden is someone I'd met through friends who had worked with him and I'd heard was wonderful to work with. The part was good, so it was a must-do, really."

Beyond a planned remake of "Sleuth," Law says, "I don't really think too far ahead."

Published in Weekly Variety, Dec. 1-7, 2003



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