Cold Mountain

Jude Law has stepped up to the Oscar plate before, with his coruscating supporting turn as Dickie Greenleaf four years ago in Anthony Minghella’s “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

And Law, guided once again by Minghella, could be in the best actor category this year: as the badly scarred Confederate soldier, Inman, in “Cold Mountain.”

The project, he says, “has to me been a kind of watershed in terms of carrying a film, but also acknowledging the responsibility that is to do with taking the film into the public arena.”

On both fronts, he is more than up to the task. Indeed, Law, who just turned 31 at the end of December, has by now become a movie star, whether he likes it or not.

Says Minghella, who has over time become very close to the actor: “Jude has come so much into his own. I felt I was watching him grow up on the making of ‘Cold Mountain’ in almost every respect. I sense in him the evolution of a characteristic which I think identifies a movie star: absolute relaxation in front of a camera — the ability to dance with a camera and to know what it is doing and what he is doing in relation to it.”

And Law’s newfound maturity is borne out in a nearly dizzying workload that could see him with as many as five movies due out next year, including “World of Tomorrow,” with Gwyneth Paltrow and Giovanni Ribisi, the first film from his own Rorschach production company. He also just started rehearsing “Closer,” Mike Nichols’ film version of the Patrick Marber play.

“I suppose I felt that, yes, here was suddenly a wave, an opportunity that was there to either absolutely ignore and perhaps miss forever or surf. And I thought just go with the wave.”

Coming attractions: “Alfie,” “The Aviator,” “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”

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