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A Look At Young Jude Law’s Exceptional Film Career

Take a look back at the acclaimed actor's early career

English actor Jude Law, has been a fan-favorite since the 1990s. Whether you recognize him from The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), the Sherlock Holmes films (2009, 2011) or mega-hit Captain Marvel (2019), Jude Law has been a consistent talent on the big screen for 35 years.

He’s a two-time Academy Award nominated actor for The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain (2003), but he’s also been gracing the stage from a very young age. Born in 1972 in London, England, Law first performed live in 1992, at age 20, and would go on to receive a Tony Award nomination for his role in the Broadway production of Indiscretions.

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Jude Law young takes on the big screen

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Jude Law (1995)Kurt Krieger – Corbis / Contributor / Getty

The actor began appearing on screen in 1988, but his first big movie came in 1997, when he starred in Gattaca with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Over the next few years, Law had roles in Final Cut (1998), Immortality (1998) and Presence of Mind (1999).

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In 1999, Law booked his breakout role in The Talented Mr. Ripley, alongside Matt Damon Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett. The film was nominated for five Oscars, one of which was for his performance.

man and woman hugging and other man
Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon in ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ (1999)

Initially, Law was resistant to taking on the role of Dickie Greenleaf in the film after one of his agents had told him to turn it down because it would box him in. Law explained what he realized years later about the movie: “This is a great filmmaker, this is a great part in a wonderful company. Can you imagine, if I took that single film away from my experience? My life would be very different.”

Law went on to have a successful run, starring in the films Enemy at the Gates (2001), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Cold Mountain (2003) and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004).

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Law’s career goes far and wide

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Jude Law (2003)Jon Kopaloff / Contributor / Getty

In his late 20s, Law starred in movies back-to-back and had the opportunity to appear in multiple major films, but he explained that was something he was against for a while.

In my 20s, I protested too much in that I felt I had to prove myself as an actor. I was being touted often as this looker, this idol of sorts, this pretty boy. And I was aware that the long game required a lot more work than that, and I wanted to prove that as such.”

But despite how he felt earlier in life, Law, who is 52 now, feels that he and other young people should just enjoy the ride. “I kind of go, ‘Dude, just enjoy it because it doesn’t last forever.’ If you have any kind of time in the ring in Hollywood, you go through ebbs and flows.”

Jude Law young becomes a sought-after actor

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Jude Law and Cameron Diaz in ‘The Holiday’ (2006)

In 2004, Law was busy starring in six movies, among them I Heart Huckabees, Alfie, Closer, The Aviator and A Series of Unfortunate Events. In 2006, he starred in The Holiday alongside Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Jack Black.

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The Holiday, a romantic comedy, grossed over $205 million worldwide and is considered a holiday classic. “I’m thrilled that I’m in something people go back to time and time again,” Law explained. “The number of films I’ve made, not a lot of them have had that response.”

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Jude Law in ‘Sherlock Holmes’ (2009)

In 2009, Law became Dr. John Watson in the Sherlock Holmes series alongside Robert Downey Jr.I get this phone call… I just remember being really curious. I mean it was a part I’d never considered playing, John Watson, Dr Watson, in a Holmes,” Law shared in an interview.

“But of course, they mentioned [Robert] Downey [Jr] and director Guy [Ritchie], and this bizarre equation. Suddenly I thought, ‘This could be disastrous, or this could be absolutely genius.’”

Law explained that it ended up being a very enjoyable experience, and he ended up starring in the sequel, 2011’s A Game of Shadows.

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Jude Law’s career recently

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Jude Law (2024)Gilbert Carrasquillo / Contributor / Getty

Most recently, Law starred in 2023’s Firebrand as Henry VIII. Although it’s a role that is very outside his usual comfort zone, he shared that it was a great opportunity: “It’s a reward, in a way. A reward for me to have been offered this role and have the opportunity to play it.”

He also recently had parts in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022), playing Albus Dumbledore himself; and Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), taking on Captain Hook.

Whether its a classic rom-com or an iconic mystery movie, Jude Law has the acting chops to get the job done.

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