‘It was bad’: Alicia Vikander couldn’t get used to Jude Law’s ‘repulsive’ stench on Firebrand set

Alicia Vikander has said she never “got used” to the “repulsive” smell of Jude Law on set for Firebrand.

Vikander, 35, starred opposite Law, 51, in the 2023 historical thriller-drama Firebrand, in which they portrayed Katherine Parr and Henry VIII respectively.

Last year, it was revealed that Law doused himself in a bespoke perfume blended from “blood, faecal matter and sweat” to play the notorious king.

Explaining his reason for doing so, during a press conference at Cannes Film Festival, Law recalled that he had read several accounts “that you could smell Henry three rooms away”.

“His leg was rotting so badly. He hid it with rose oil,” he said. “I thought it would have a great impact if I smelt awful.”

In a new interview with Business Insider, Law said the custom scent – made by a specialist perfumier – was “repulsive” and “sort of summed up the state he was in, I think emotionally and spiritually and physically at that time: decaying and disgusting”.

Law, then, claimed that Vikaner “got used to it” before the Swedish actor interjected, stating: “I didn’t really, it was that bad!”

She continued: “I’d never really had that kind of incense on set before, but I work… a lot with music. I always keep my AirPods close and have them in between takes.”

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

The Ex Machina star went on to compare the use of scent and music, from an actor’s perspective.

“With music it’s the same kind of thing as with smell. It kind of just instantly emotionally takes you somewhere,” she said.

“Joe Wright actually did that on Anna Karenina, too. He used to play music, like techno, over the scenes in take just to give us a vibe.”

Firebrand director Wright previously worked with Vikander on the 2012 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1878 novel of the same name.

Law explained that he uses smell to get into the mindset of a character “quite a lot”.

France Cannes 2023 Firebrand Red Carpet (2023 Invision)
France Cannes 2023 Firebrand Red Carpet (2023 Invision)

“It’s a ritual,” he said. “And it can just put you in a certain frame of mind or mood. It can help or it certainly helps me.”

Law is known to be a client of British “fragrance stylist” Azzi Glasser, who reportedly made him a custom scent, which is said to mix elements of the actor’s previous characters, including Bosie in Wilde (1997) and Dr Watson in Sherlock (2009).

The scent is described by Glasser as “decadent, with a clean and classy accord of sexy vetivert and rich mosses”.

Earlier this month, Law said he regrets not “playing up” his youthful good looks now that he is “saggy and balding”.

He did, however, say that he found it “satisfying” playing the unattractive character of  Henry VII – for which he has been aged up with a long silver beard and deep wrinkles.