Jude Law wore ‘awful’ perfume scent of ‘blood, faecal matter and sweat’ to play Henry VIII

Jude Law has shared that he wore an “awful” scent of “blood, faecal matter and sweat” to authentically portray Henry VIII in his newest movie Firebrand.

The 50-year-old British actor stars as the former King of England, who married six times, in director Karim Aïnouz’s historical drama.

“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 said on Monday (22 May) during the film’s press conference at Cannes Film Festival, according to Variety.

“I thought it would have a great impact if I smelt awful.”

He explained that he worked with a perfume specialist to concoct a horrifying scent that would mimic the king’s foul odour. In his final years, Henry VIII is said to have suffered from chronic leg ulcers, thought to have been caused by an infection following a jousting accident in 1536.

“She makes wonderful scents, and she also makes awful scents. She somehow came up with this extraordinary variety of blood, faecal matter and sweat,” Jude said.

“Initially, I used it very subtly and thought I’d use it myself,” he added, but eventually, “it became a spray-fest”.

Jude Law and Alicia Vikander in ‘Firebrand’ (Larry D. Horricks)
Jude Law and Alicia Vikander in ‘Firebrand’ (Larry D. Horricks)

“When Jude walked in on set, it was just horrible,” Aïnouz recalled.

Firebrand, which made its world premiere at the festival the day prior (Sunday 21 May), received an eight-minute standing ovation after its screening.

The movie sees Law portray English monarch Henry VIII in the last stages of his life. Alicia Vikander plays his sixth and final wife and queen, Catherine Parr.

It has been well-received by critics, yet one aspect of the film has been an additional matter of intrigue: the appearance of the rotund king’s bare bottom during a sex scene with Catherine. Several critics have wondered if Law used a butt double in the movie.