I like the challenge of something that scares you, it usually means it's the right job
FILM: Jude Law talks of turning 40 and piling on the pounds for new role
JUDE Law is looking dashing, of course. Dressed in a grey shirt and jeans, his face is just the right amount of rugged and his blue eyes are piercing.
But with his receding hairline and slight air of tiredness, the heart-throb is, finally, showing his age.
Law turned 40 last December, but the year hasn't been quite as eventful as he'd imagined.
"I've enjoyed the work so far, you know," he says, sighing. "It started off with a bang, with all of these hopes and thinking, 'My life's going to be different'.
"Then as you head towards the summer, you start falling back on bad habits. You're not so interested in the new stuff that you've set yourself. But it's been eventful in areas."
Despite this, he remains an advocate of the motto: "Do something that scares you every day."
"We get herded into doing everything that's easy, rather than facing stuff that's hard for us, but you get more rewards for the latter," he says.
"I like the challenge of taking on something that scares you – it usually means it's the right job to take."
This could be the thinking behind his latest film, Dom Hemingway, in which Law plays the lead role as the boozing, smoking, eloquent, larger-than-life criminal Dom Hemingway.
At the start of the movie, Dom is released from a long stint in prison. Guided by his close friend Dickie, played by Richard E Grant, he's slowly coming to terms with being back out in the – now very different – world.
Daunted by the complex role, Law overcame his fears through plain hard work. The actor spent months discussing Dom's back story with the film's writer and director, Richard Shepard.
"We made sure we knew the ins and outs, the hows and whys of who this guy was, from birth to the moment you meet him," Law says.
On top of that, he gained 20 pounds – and a paunch.
"I chose to play around with my appearance because it's helpful sometimes to assume the physical relationship the character would have with their body," says a now slimmed-down Law.
Putting on weight wasn't a hardship. "I just sort of let go for three months, ate and drank what I wanted," he says.
He'd already bulked up for the Eugene O'Neill play, Anna Christie, in which he was a big, burly sailor.
There have been whispers that this role might be indicative of the direction Law's career will now be taking.
"Playing alcoholic maniacs?" he retorts. "I just take whatever I find interesting. This character, I love the contradictions of him, the passion and the sentimentality.
"If you look slightly different, people assume it's this deep character, but there are things in Dom that I'm more like than parts I've played when I look like I do now," he says.
Law's first big role was in the sitcom Families in 1990, but 1994 was his breakthrough year. He won the Ian Charleson Outstanding Newcomer Award for his performance in a stage version of Les Parents Terribles, and starred in the film Shopping alongside Sadie Frost, who he'd later marry.
In 1999, having appeared in the movie Wilde with Stephen Fry two years previously, Law was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Talented Mr Ripley, which also earned him a Bafta.
Since then, he's appeared in a long list of films – Enemy At The Gates, AI Artificial Intelligence, Cold Mountain (another film for which he was Oscar-nominated), Alfie, Closer, Sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, Hugo, Side Effects to name a few. He also continues to appear on stage, recently starring in the West End as Hamlet.
But while Law's professional life has been on a smooth trajectory, his personal life has been rather more tumultuous.
After divorcing Sadie Frost in 2003 (the pair have three children – Rafferty, Iris and Rudy), he became engaged to Sienna Miller, who was his co-star in Alfie. The glamorous couple split following his fling with his children's nanny, only to reunite and part ways again.
In 2009, Law became a father for a fourth time, when American model Samantha Burke gave birth to Sophia, now aged four.
Rafferty, now 17, may be following in his father's footsteps. It was recently revealed that he featured in a fashion film for tailoring brand Tiger of Sweden.
"I think he just did it for a bit of pocket money," says Law, pointing out that his son is more of a musician.
Many showbiz parents have concerns when their kids pick the same career paths as them, but Rafferty has a different approach.
"I saw it as a really big deal, and he's grown up with it being a part of his life," says Law. "He's more relaxed about it than I was."
Dom Hemingway is in cinemas on November 15