According to “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” co-producer Bonnie Curtis, Jude Law was Steven Spielberg’s only choice to play Gigolo Joe, the android love machine who befriends abandoned mecha child David (Haley Joel Osment).
After significant roles in “Gattaca” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” (both 1997), followed by David Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ” and the doomed Dickie Greenleaf in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (both 1999), Law continued head-first in 2001, co-starring in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Enemy at the Gates” and Spielberg’s “A.I.”
With his perf in “A.I.,” Law joined a small group of actors that has played robots onscreen and survived with their dignity intact, among them Yul Brynner in “Westworld” (1973), Andy Kaufman in “Heartbeeps” (1981) and Robin Williams in “Bicentennial Man” (1999). (Add to that list Douglas Rain as the voice of HAL in 1968’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Woody Allen pretending to be a robot in 1973’s “Sleeper.”)
The “A.I.” producers asked choreographer Francesca Jaynes to work with Law in London and “within a week, these amazing tapes of his sessions” began to arrive.
“He would move in this romantic, all-encompassing elegance,” Curtis reports. “Jude got completely into the movements, (asking), ‘Do I want to be Fred Astaire? Gene Kelly? A little bit of the Scarecrow?’ I think he really created a character onscreen that is all its own.”
Curtis cites Law’s “levity and spirit, confidence and subtlety” as Gigolo Joe, who becomes David’s guide in the middle section of the film.
“Just the way he walked … I was so impressed with not only his attention to the minutiae, but just his raw talent that I’m so happy Steven spotted.”
HITS: Often cited as the best element of the film.
MISSES: Despite its Kubrickian origin and Spielberg behind the camera, the pic was not well received by auds.