02/04/2013 12:16 pm ET Updated Feb 04, 2013

Jude Law, 'Side Effects' Star, Will Debate You About 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows'

It's hard for me to remember ever being disappointed by a Jude Law performance. There are certainly some less-than-stellar movies on his resume-- his new film, Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects," is not one of those; it's an outstanding performance and film -- but Law always delivers. Why don't we talk about Jude Law's performances more often? Do we take Law for granted?

In "Side Effects", Law stars as Dr. Jonathan Banks, a psychiatrist who runs into trouble when the depressed young woman he's treating for depression (Rooney Mara) commits a serious crime that may or may not have been caused by her medication. (There are a lot of twists and turns in "Side Effects," and the less you know about the plot, the better.) Ahead, Law talks about the joys of working with the now-retired Steven Soderbergh, why "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" is better than "Sherlock Holmes," and whether he thinks we take Jude Law for granted?

I very much enjoyed "Side Effects." Though, with Sundance, I've seen 23 movies since "Side Effects" -- but I still remember it well.
That's some task.

The lack of sleep is the task.
Did you get any skiing in?

There was no time.
It doesn't sound like it.

With you starring and Steven Soderbergh directing, I was fairly sure this wouldn't turn into a "wrongfully accused" courtroom drama, but I'm very glad this wasn't a "wrongfully accused" courtroom drama.
No, it steps into the shoes of films like "Double Indemnity" and "Body Heat" -- the film with a twist. You know, it's entertaining. But, at the same time, it's nice to be in something that has a subject matter that's so thought provoking and timely. And it does it in a very subtle and intelligent way, you can't help but come out and have an opinion and a sense of what one's relation with prescription pills is. And, at the same time, it's a ride -- because the characters and your loyalty to certain characters shifts and change all the time.

It's a weird set of emotions. First, you wonder if people often do manipulate what a side effect might do ...
Yeah! It's called malingering -- it's happened.

And then I feel guilty because there are many people who aren't manipulating anything.
I know. Indeed.

I don't know how this works. Are you on the set of "Contagion" and Steven Soderbergh says, "Hey, I have this idea for a movie. Want to be in it?"
Funny enough, I did read it just after "Contagion." Because [screenwriter] Scott Burns and I got along very well and he was just interested to see what I thought. But, at that time, Steven wasn't going to direct it. And it was a few months later he decided that he wanted that to be his next film. They sent it to me and did a bit of work on it and changed it ... I mean, if I'm honest, it would have had to be a pretty bad script for me to say "no." Because when Steven is involved, you know you're going to be in something slick and smart and stylish. I wanted to work with him again because I had a good time on "Contagion" and it had been a sort of brief experience. Fortunately, it was this script and I was bowled over -- I was blown away by it.

You know Steven Soderbergh now, can you talk him out of this whole retirement thing? I mean, we want to see more movies from him, right?
I agree. I mean, here's the thing, though: he's a man who has many interests and talents. And I can completely understand wanting to get to a point where he's like, "I'm going to take some time off." I'm sure he'll come back and do something.

I hope that's true.
I think so. You know, at the same time, I think to really get something out of making a change, you really have to kind of say, "That's it," You know what I mean? Otherwise you're not committing. It's different than saying, "Oh, I'll have a year off."

Was there a sense of finality at all on set? I know he's got the HBO movie "Behind the Candelabra."
No, he did that after. And there wasn't really -- there wasn't a sense of emotion, "This is it, guys!" [laughs]. "Now I'm hanging up my director's hat!" I mean, it was work as usual.

When did you feel like you were breaking through as an actor? Was it "The Talented Mr. Ripley"?
I think, probably, yeah. Being in the company of actors who had such acclaim prior to that -- Gwyneth Paltrow and Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman -- and, obviously, a director [Anthony Minghella] who had gotten Best Picture. And then the whole ride when it came out and getting a nomination myself and all of that stuff was the first sense of, "OK, this is different than what I've experienced before."

You have two Oscar nominations now. And every time I watch you in something I'm never disappointed, even if I don't like the movie. But do you ever feel like you're taken for granted as an actor?
Well, that's really nice of you. I don't know if I particularly feel that way. I feel glad, obviously, that I'm still working. I feel still interested in what I do. I think that as long as I can keep trying out new things, then I can't really complain. You know, it's a tough business and if you can keep getting job and offers from people like Soderbergh, then I'm good with that. But, damn, he's retiring -- I'm going to be stumped! [laughs]. But, look, you know, I'm also wise to the reality that this is a fickle industry and the flavor of the month changes every month. To me, it's all about the long game.

I read the Times Magazine interview where it's framed as though you're getting older so you're going to get meatier roles. But it's not like you haven't taken chances before. Something like "Road to Perdition" felt like a risky role for you.
Yeah, yeah. You know, I'm happy when I'm trying something different. And, yeah ... I don't know. I'm very flattered!

I think it's my own guilt because I think you should get more acclaim than you do and I am one of the people who has taken you for granted as an actor. I don't write about you enough and maybe that should change.
Go for it! [laughs]

I read that the script is being written for "Sherlock Holmes 3." I'm curious of your opinion on those movies because I loved the first one, but felt something was missing in the second one.

It made half of a billion dollars, so it's not like it wasn't a huge success. But the reviews weren't as good as the first one. Do you pay attention to that?
I'm quite surprised, actually. Because I thought the second one was better.

Really? I mean, it's just a matter of opinion, obviously.

I think it's because I just really love the first one.
Oh, I'm sorry about that. I mean, I think we ... I thought it was better! It thought it was more evolved, myself. We certainly feel the responsibility that we don't want to just phone in a third because it made a bunch of money. We really want it to get better. So, our hope is that when everything aligns and, you know, when I'm free and Robert [Downey Jr.] is free and we get the team, as it were, back together -- the first thing on our mind will be, "OK, this story has to be more interesting and it has to be slick and it has to be funnier," and all of those things. So, the hope is to keep the quality up. And I will have you in mind at that very first meeting [laughs]. I promise! -- to make sure it's a good one.

I'll say this: I'm glad that I lead with the whole, "Every time I watch you in something I'm never disappointed," topic instead of the "I didn't like the second "Sherlock Holmes" as much as you did" topic.
[Laughs] A little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

'Side Effects' Screening At Lincoln Center