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Feature: Alfie

Becoming More Like Alfie

Jude Law as Alfie

Jude Law tells why he won’t be imitating Michael Caine in the remake of Alfie – not a lot of people know that, until now…

When the original Alfie was released in 1966 the film catapulted its star, Michael Caine, to worldwide stardom as well as bringing the actor the first of his six Academy Award nominations. Jude Law, who takes Caine’s role in the new film version of Alfie, is already an established worldwide star with several Academy Award nominations under his belt, but the actor was still nervous about following in Caine’s footsteps – so he didn’t! “The biggest thing for me in playing Alfie was not to try and be Michael Caine,” explains Law. “That would’ve been a big mistake and I don’t think the audience would like it very much, and I wouldn’t have done the film if I was just copying that character. I’m a big fan of the original film, so the question is why do a remake of a classic film like that? You can’t remake a classic film like Alfie so this version is a re-imagining of that character. We live in a different age, modern age, and Alfie’s now surrounded by modern women and that’s what I responded too. It’s a character study of an unrepentant womanizer who’s forced to change.”

Caine’s Alfie was the definitive Sixties womanizing Cockney playboy, and Alfie’s unapologetic philandering is a character trait that remains in Law’s updated character. “Alfie Elkins only cares about one thing and that’s sex, plain and simple,” says Law. “That’s the essence of the character of Alfie at the beginning of the story and then we find out why he behaves like that. Then Alfie learns that he has to change because he realizes that he can’t spend his whole life just thinking about himself. Eventually, his charms will wear off and he’ll end up all alone.”

Directed by Charles Shyer, best known for such domestic American comedies like Baby Boom and the Father of the Bride films, Alfie features Law as a scheming New York limousine driver, a transplanted Englander, who uses his job to seduce a stream of women including Jane Krakowski and Susan Sarandon. Marisa Tomei plays a single mother in the film who Alfie actually thinks he might be falling in love with. Just like Caine did in the original film, Law confides directly to the audience about his life, a storytelling device that Law thinks is risky but effective. “I think the script is really good and I think Alfie talking to the audience really makes them feel like they know Alfie, every part of his life,” says Law. “When you talk to the audience, which you don’t see very much in films, you’d better have something funny or interesting to say and I think Alfie does. It’s like he’s confiding to the audience throughout the whole film.”

by David Grove

Get the full interview in
Film Review (Oct)

Photo © Paramount Pictures
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Oct), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Oct)
#649, October 2004
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