Jude Law wasn't down and out, per se, but he was apprehensive about his craft or ''losing the buzz,'' as he calls it. ''Anyone who performs goes through little stages where they doubt themselves.'' Then came Sleuth, which Law describes as ''absolutely reinvigorating.''
About five years ago, the actor had the ''clever idea'' of giving Anthony Shaffer's play and subsequent 1972 film a modern twist. Then Harold Pinter, a hero of Law's even before he won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature, agreed to pen an update of the dark comedy-thriller. In the original, Laurence Olivier stars as a successful author who's peeved that his wife is having an affair with a younger man, played by a 39-year-old Michael Caine. ''We thought, God, at its kernel this is such a simple idea: two men beating each other up physically and psychologically over a woman you never meet. And to what lengths will they go?''
Doing double duty as a producer, Law wanted Caine, whose role he reprised in Alfie, to costar, this time as the older (but not necessarily wiser) half. When it came time for a director to put it all together, says Law, ''Ken was the one person who wasn't scared of Harold's particular style of writing, which is kind of blank verse and leaves a lot to the imagination.''