- The Washington Times - Friday, December 25, 2009

LONDON

Poor Dr. Watson. Always the sidekick, never the star. Jude Law hopes to rectify that situation with his charismatic performance alongside Robert Downey Jr. in “Sherlock Holmes,” making the detective’s right-hand man a handsome action hero in his own right.

He’s just not that comfortable with his new nickname: “Hotson.”

“Mostly I was only hot because I was wearing those thick tweed suits, massive overcoats and hat and gloves,” Mr. Law says, deflecting the accolade.

“I was always the one perspiring on set.”

He stresses that the film’s version of Watson - a dapper army veteran with an eye for the ladies - is firmly based on the 19th-century stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Director Guy Ritchie wanted to give the tales a 21st-century spin while staying close to the original material.

“There’s a reference in one of the books to Watson being very popular with women,” Mr. Law says. “So that fits.”

Far from being the bumbler familiar from classic Holmes movies, Watson is a foil and an equal for the detective, and their bickering relationship gives the film a big dose of buddy comedy.

“As soon as I knew Guy and Robert were involved, it was clearly going to be a re-evaluation of a very familiar duo dynamic,” says Mr. Law, cheerful and relaxed in an interview to promote the movie, which opens around the world this week.

“We were much more interested in creating this equal of two halves, both flawed and both trying to put up with living with each other and both sort of adoring each other but also hating each other.”

Mr. Law, 36, has had an eventful 2009, in which he played a critically praised “Hamlet” in London’s West End and on Broadway. He also was in the news for fathering a child during a brief relationship with model Samantha Burke.

Mr. Law says he was still “slightly shellshocked” after eight months of “Hamlet,” “one of the most remarkable experiences in my life.”

Meeting Broadway theatergoers reminded him that interacting with the public can be a pleasure. Avoiding the paparazzi is more of a chore. But he says he doesn’t let it stop him.

“You just live accordingly,” Mr. Law says. “You learn back routes to an awful lot of places. The glamour is going in through the kitchen and over the back fence.”

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