Update the cultural registry of grotesque things that can fall under the vast umbrella of “method acting:” Jude Law has a “blood, fecal matter, and sweat” scented perfume to add to the list. During a Cannes Film Festival press conference supporting his new Henry VIII thriller biopic Firebrand, Law revealed his secret weapon for embodying the late king was a specialty perfume capturing Henry VIII’s reported pungent scent, the result of numerous leg ulcers.
“I read several interesting accounts that you could smell Henry three rooms away. His leg was rotting so badly. He hid it with rose oil,” Law explains (per Variety). “I thought it would have a great impact if I smelt awful.”
To succeed in his mission to reek, Law sought out the support of a perfume specialist, who created a custom scent meant to evoke that of Henry VIII at the end of his life. Firebrand, which zooms in on the king’s relationship with his sixth and final wife Katherine Parr (Alicia Vikander), is set in Tudor, England in 1547 during the final days of Henry VIII’s life.
“She makes wonderful scents, and she also makes awful scents,” Law says of the specialist he worked with. “She somehow came up with this extraordinary variety of blood, fecal matter and sweat.”
Although Law says he initially used the perfume “very subtly,” that tactic didn’t last long. As he opines: “It became a spray-fest.”
Don’t just take it from Law, however: Firebrand director Karim Aïnouz can confirm the consistency and power of his star’s stench: “When Jude walked in on set, it was just horrible.” For however horrible Law made filming, the result clearly holds some weight: Firebrand’s Sunday night Cannes premiere was met with an eight-minute standing ovation.