I`m not surprised, since the lights are dim and we eat our food, that Law is a sociable company. I already interviewed him, in the summer of 2006, about some hot days in New York, where he was working on a film with Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai. At the time, he was at the height of his fame as a leading actor in Hollywood cinema – his name was on the list of the 10 most bankable stars in cinema that year – and also of his fame in the tabloid press. In addition to his children with frost, he has two very young children. “Two babies, yes.” Sophia, who turns seven in September, is the daughter of Samantha Burke, an American model. Ada, born in March 2015, is the daughter of British musician Catherine Harding. This, I think, must make his life quite complicated. His commitment to our interview is no less pronounced. At one point, he even follows me outside so I can take a cigarette break just to continue the conversation. Later, after a few hours of conversation and with dinner, I offer him the opportunity to call it a night. “I wanted to order another drink,” he says. And he asks for a glass of Scotch and continues talking. Except that`s exactly where the problem lies when it comes to the character of Law Lenny Belardo or “Pope Pius XIII,” a (highly fictional) young American pope who became a papacy quite unexpectedly.
He has not seen heaven or spoken to God, and he has reached a career point where it causes a kind of crisis of confidence. In this moment of conversation, the door to the library opened and my family`s dog rushed victoriously and confidently. My younger sister, who seemed strangely close to the door, rushed after him. Unable to free myself from the chasm of a lazy boy I had chosen as my temporary office, I watched her chase the dog across the room and commit atrocities against her. Meanwhile, Law began a joyful ode to Diane Keaton. It sounds like an adult role for Law, who — though he`s always hesitated between lighter, more serious projects and received Oscar nominations for The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain — has long been haunted by his good-natured Playboy look. His blessed genetics undoubtedly stimulated the devoted coverage of his complicated family affairs by the British tabloids.
With five children ranging in age from one to twenty, much of Law`s life these days is fatherhood, and it seems like a blessing when playing the role of ultimate father. Lenny Belardo is the young pope, but in reality, he`s a middle-aged man in a world of old men, and Law, at 44, settles deep into the role — letting his soft chin fold comfortably over his clerical collar in quiet moments. When he began a relationship with Sienna Miller, his Alfie co-star, after his split from Frost, attention intensified. “One day I was anonymous,” Miller told me when I interviewed her in 2009. “The next day, people were in front of my apartment.” The coverage of her and Law`s whereabouts was, as she described it to me, “completely saturated.” Lenny`s response to his insecurities, like those of many young men, is to go to extremes. The biggest surprise to everyone is that his extremism turns out to be conservative. The young pope reprimanded the masses in St. Peter`s Square, refused to spread his image to the public (Banksy and Daft Punk were among the greatest artists of our time) and proposed a gay witch hunt in the Vatican. In his eagerly awaited first address to the cardinals, he declares with a mad sparkle in his eye: “Knock, knock. Tolerance is no longer alive here.
Perhaps that is still its decisive role. In Ripley, the law is magnetic. Blond and honey-tanned, he plays Dickie Greenleaf, the charismatic son of an American shipowner, and he perfectly captures the cold self-control and frightening aspirations of the very young, very rich and very beautiful. Even among some of the brightest stars of his generation – Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman – Law shines and covers all his scenes with the dexterity of a Neapolitan pickpocket. And this despite the fact that his character is killed in less than an hour in a film that lasts more than two. He won the Bafta for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for an Oscar. His own image and that of the character he embodied – the bad boy, the catnip for women and men – became indivisible. “People thought I was Dickie Greenleaf,” Law says.
“They thought I was on a yacht playing the saxophone.” Break. “Me and Simon Le Bon.” If the experience of interviewing him at the time gives the impression that it must have been tense, it was actually quite the opposite. I don`t think the interview itself was much fun for Law, who was asked in public to account for actions he regretted, but after that, we went into town with a bunch of friends and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning and drank on the balcony of his penthouse. He was a gracious host, an excellent storyteller and a thoughtful interviewee.