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Alfie - The creed of Alfie exists on the same level as like a Casanova or a Hamlet or a Don Juan

Feature by: Jack Foley

IT MAY come as a surprise to his legion of female fans, but Jude Law claims he has never had any confidence with women, even though he is widely considered to be one of the best-looking leading men of his generation.

Yet the star of Alfie insists that he could never pull women when he was younger, especially since he always listened to his mum, 'who was very influential at being very nice and polite and friendly'.

"I realised that I should have been an a***hole," he joked, during a recent interview for the film.

As Alfie, the smooth-talking bachelor who loves courting women until they mention the word 'commitment', Law cuts a dashing figure as he talks to the camera about the pitfalls of relationships, and his need to play the field.

Yet, as arrogant as the character starts off in the film, part of the fun in watching Alfie's tale unfold is in seeing how the ultimate player will eventually become played.

"I’m only interested in playing characters that have a journey, a sense of evolution within the piece as a whole," explained Law.

"And I certainly think in this there is a journey that Alfie goes on where you, as the audience, are seduced, you are invited in, you are as much as a culprit as he is, as the women in his life, who are suckered by this veneer, this presentation, by this energy that he has, and hopefully by the end, you are apart of his dismantling, when he finally realises that the only person who is going to make him happy is himself."

Law believes that the film is very good at tackling many of the themes that encompass the dating game of today and isn't phased by comparisons to the Sixties-based original, which helped turn Michael Caine into a star.

"I remember one of the reasons I was finally educated into playing this part by Charles Shyer [the director] and others, was because the creed of Alfie exists on the same level as like a Casanova or a Hamlet or a Don Juan. There is enough there to keep going back and revisiting it.

"You know, does it stand up 40 years on? 100 years on? And in my opinion, you could re-visit Alfie in another 50 years and there will still be Alfies out there, there would still be people behaving and thinking and living like that."

As for comparisons with Caine, the actor says he strived not to copy him, but to make the character his own.

"I think Michael (Caine) found Alfie in him and I couldn’t go and play Michael playing Alfie, I had to find Alfie in me. And so I hope that while paying homage, we’ve also separated ourselves from the original."

So what were the common bonds that Law found between the character and himself?

"I like the idea that it’s about someone, and this is something we are all guilty of in this day and age, of relying on the veneer, relying on a facade, pretending everything is alright, never asking one's self deep down, ‘am I happy? Am I OK?’ And being surprised when things are falling down around you and it’s like, ‘why am I not happy? I’ve got great clothes, I’m sleeping with great women or great men...’

"The problems lie within and that’s at the base of this piece, which is incredibly interesting."

For Law, the role of Alfie may have seemed like an obvious choice, given his poster-boy looks and his obvious charm and charisma. Yet, a quick glance at his career will show that he has mostly stayed away from playing Lothario-style leading men, even playing down his looks in movies such as Road To Perdition, in which he starred alongside Tom Hanks as a hitman.

It is a part of what has helped him to become one of the most sought-after actors of the moment, especially since Law seems to be busier than ever at present.

Aside from Alfie, he can also be seen in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, as well as the upcoming existential comedy, I Heart Huckabees, and the forthcoming Closer.

He kicked off the year with a lead performance in Anthony Minghella's classic Cold Mountain and has just announced plans to appear in a new movie alongside Sean Penn.

Ironically, however, Law opts to play down his rising prominence among the Hollywood pecking order and insists that it is a fluke that so many films are coming out at the same time.

"The funny thing is I finished Closer in March this year and I haven’t worked since and I won’t work again until the beginning of December.

"All of these films came in a row over a period of two years and it was the first time I had embarked on a series of films so close together, it was simply they were all very interesting.

"They were all very different, with incredible directors wanting to take me in different directions, and they all seemed to compliment and contrast with one another. And they all worked out logistically because most of them were shot in London, where I live and my kids live.

"It’s no secret I was going through a divorce, so it was good to channel emotional energy and a lot of time into something positive, instead of tearing my hair out.

"I don’t know if it’s a shame or what that they are all coming out within a few months, but I hope people will enjoy the variety, and I hope they will realise that they are certainly not treading on each other’s toes.
"And yes, I’m doing a film with Sean Penn and Meryl Streep called All The King’s Men in New Orleans."

As for relationships, Law has once again found happiness with Alfie co-star, Sienna Miller, who plays one of the women he loves and leaves in the film. So sorry, women, those bachelor days are over once more.
But what does the man behind Alfie look for in a woman?

Law laughs and states: "Humour, intelligence and I have to say, and I know this is incredibly misogynistic, but I do love a woman who can cook. I really do. My mum was a great cook and I like cooking, I like food."

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