Jude Law's 'blood, faecal matter and sweat' fragrance for Henry VIII drama repulsed his co-stars


Jude Law playing Henry VIII in new Tudor drama Firebrand
(Image credit: Larry Horricks / © Brouhaha Entertainment Limited 2023, Firebrand)

When it comes to popular period dramas, there are two that likely spring to mind. In recent years, Regency romance Bridgerton and royally gripping drama The Crown have undoubtedly dominated - and if you're a fan of the shows, it's likely that you've imagined sauntering through the intricately designed sets, peppered with actors in corsets and wigs. However, behind the scenes things are often a lot less glamorous - and if Jude Law's method acting is anything to go by, you probably wouldn't have wanted to be around him during filming for the upcoming Tudor drama, Firebrand.

The movie, which is yet to be released in the UK, centres on the relationship between Henry VIII (played by Law) and his sixth wife, Catherine Parr (Alicia Vikander). Based on The Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle, it's the latest big budget fictionalised history offering that has piqued interest from critics. But forget the glitz of Hollywood; last year, Jude confessed that he regularly wore a potent custom scent while playing the infamous Tudor. During a press conference at the Cannes Films Festival in 2023, he said: "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. I thought it would have a great impact if I smelt awful."

Adding that a perfume specialist created this pungent nightmare to replicate what Henry VIII may have smelled like, he continued: "She somehow came up with this extraordinary variety of blood, faecal matter and sweat. Initially, I used it very subtly and thought I’d use it myself [but] it became a spray-fest."

And what of his poor colleagues, you may ask? Well, while Jude was frivolously spritzing the nasally offensive fragrance, his co-star Alicia Vikander just had to deal with it.

In an interview with Business Insider, Jude recalled the power of the 'repulsive' scent, explaining, "It’s a ritual, and it can just put you in a certain frame of mind or mood. It can help or it certainly helps me." But at the suggestion that Alicia 'got used' to the sensory assault, she quickly corrected him, stating: "I didn't really, it was that bad!"

Director Karim Aïnouz had a few words to say on the matter, too. In a separate interview, he simply stated: "When Jude walked in on set, it was just horrible."


Jadie Troy-Pryde
News Editor

Jadie Troy-Pryde is News Editor, covering celebrity and entertainment, royal, lifestyle and viral news. Before joining the team in 2018 as the Lifestyle and Social Media Editor, she worked at a number of women’s fashion and lifestyle titles including Grazia, Women’s Health and Stylist, and now heads the Marie Claire UK news desk.