Jude Law Got Perfume That Smelled Like Blood, Fecal Matter and Sweat to Play Henry VIII in ‘Firebrand’


Everything did not come up smelling like roses for Jude Law‘s latest role. 

The two-time Oscar nominee is set to star as King Henry VIII in Karim Aïnouz’s Firebrand opposite Alicia Vikander, who will portray Catherine Parr, the last of Henry’s six wives. To physically portray Henry in his final years, Law sought the help of a perfumer to give himself a realistic — and seemingly awful — scent as the ailing king. 

“I read several interesting accounts that — at this period — you could smell Henry three rooms away because his leg was rotting so badly and he hid it with rose oil,” Law said during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday. “I just thought it would have a great impact if I smelt awful.”

As a result, a perfumer created a custom concoction to fit the bill. As he described, “She somehow managed to come up with this extraordinary variety, which was puss, blood, fecal matter and… sweat.”

Initially, Law said, he used the perfume subtly but then the director got a hold of it. As the actor put it, “it became a spray fest” on set with Aïnouz quick to film their very real reactions to the scent for the movie. The director also admitted to spraying the perfume in every room while the actors were at lunch. 

Still, Law remained the most repulsive smelling. “When he walked on set,” the director said, “it was just horrible.”

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