The violent, vulgar braggadocio Jude Law plays in “Dom Hemingway” represents a new ferocity we haven’t seen from the two-time Oscar nominee, best known for agreeable English gentlemen like Watson in the “Sherlock Holmes” films.
Title character Dom is nothing more than a lowlife crook who, after a 12-year stint in prison, finds life on the outside less than agreeable… especially after losing all his payoff money.
“There’s no glamour to it, he does it to survive,” says Law of his character’s mad dog behavior. “A lot of it was survival skills, and bravado. It was just very cathartic to be able to vent and rant all that stuff.”
As mapped out by writer/director Richard Shepard (“The Matador”), Dom’s story casts him as a classic British anti-hero in the “Bronson” or “Sexy Beast” mold, until twists of fate lead him to attempt reconciliation with his daughter, albeit very poorly.
“I think Richard wrote it as an ode to all those films,” Law says. “That kind of man, the unapologetic, politically incorrect, ranting, inebriated poet. The kind of guy you experience in the cinema at a safe distance and think, ‘Good lord, I never thought I’d say this, but I kind of care about him.’”
Don’t worry, though, because “Dom Hemingway” is not a sentimental story where the hardened criminal does some radical 180 by the end. As Law puts it, “If you cut him in half it would say ‘Dom Hemingway’ through the middle.”
That consistency of character extended to Law enlarging himself in every respect, physically transforming in not only weight but with a crooked nose, high-heeled boots and some crazy facial hair.
“He had to look like he was soiled, gone to seed,” says Law. “The excesses and violence of life were written all over him.”
While Law is outrageously funny as Dom, he’ll attempt his first true raunchy comedy next year when he teams with Melissa McCarthy for spy spoof “Susan Cooper.”
“I'm a massive Melissa McCarthy fan,” he says. “I think she’s a modern comedy genius. She’s just quite wonderful to watch. I’m just gonna sit back and enjoy. Whether I quite measure up in comedy chops, I don’t know, but we'll see.”