Jude Law wore a fecal matter perfume on set for his role in a Henry VIII drama

  • The perfume was meant to add an authentic and repulsive element to the sensory experience on set
  • Alicia Vikander was physically shocked by the scent, but Law got used to it over time


Can you imagine having to endure the foul stench of fecal matter while on set filming a historical drama? Well, that’s exactly what Jude Law did when he took on the role of Henry VIII in the film Firebrand. The actor went above and beyond in his dedication to the character by wearing a specially commissioned perfume that included notes of pus, blood, sweat, and yes, fecal matter. Talk about commitment!

Firebrand takes place during Henry VIII’s final years, a time when the King was plagued by festering wounds and ulcers. The putrid smell that surrounded him was well-known, though both he and his court would try to ignore it. In a conversation with Entertainment Weekly, Jude Law shed some light on the reasoning behind the fecal matter perfume.

“It was a very sensory set,” Law explained. “What I mean by that is Karim had such a unique perspective of history and how to create an authentic court. Being from Brazil, he really wanted it to feel human and tangible. So, he would leave the windows open in this castle that we filmed in, and we’d have fires going and lots of animals around. There was the smell of animals, but equally he would have the sage and rosemary scent used to clean the rooms. And then there was food everywhere.”

Law went on to say, “The scent that I wanted to bring in was just a reminder that there was also this repellent. There was this rancid presence, which everyone had to pretend wasn’t really there because it was the king. It seemed like such an interesting addition to all these sensory elements that Karim was already using to create the right mood to perform in.”

Alicia Vikander, who plays Katherine Parr, Henry’s sixth and final wife in Firebrand, was taken aback by the scent. “It was a physical shock,” Vikander said. “The first time he opened this horrific box that everyone dreaded, it definitely brought something new to the scene. Smell is a very direct way into an emotional state.” Like the King himself, Law grew accustomed to the smell. “I got very used to it,” he admitted. “It was truly repulsive, but they became quite familiar to me, as did the costumes and various pads and weights that I wore to take on the posture and the size of it. Putting on the clothes was putting on the smell, which was putting on the king.”

Firebrand made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and is now showing in theaters. The film offers a unique and immersive experience, taking viewers back to a time when the sights, sounds, and yes, smells of the royal court were on full display. Jude Law’s dedication to his role as Henry VIII truly shines through, even if that meant subjecting himself to the less-than-pleasant aroma of fecal matter perfume.

So, next time you watch Firebrand, remember the lengths that Jude Law went to in order to bring authenticity to his performance. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll appreciate the film even more knowing the behind-the-scenes details. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends to give them a peek into the fascinating world of filmmaking.

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