Oscar-nominated Law returns to roots with plea to save Young Vic

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The Independent Culture

Squeezed into a temporary hut at the back of a falling down theatre, the actor Jude Law gave what was probably the least glamorous press conference of his career yesterday.

Squeezed into a temporary hut at the back of a falling down theatre, the actor Jude Law gave what was probably the least glamorous press conference of his career yesterday.

In a dash back to London after Sunday's Italian premiere of Cold Mountain, the film for which he is Oscar-nominated, and last night's French premiere in Paris, Law returned to the theatre that inspired him to become an actor.

The addition to his busy schedule was made so he could honour his commitment to help the Young Vic launch a public appeal for £2.5m towards a planned £12.5m redevelopment. "There's no need to ask why we need to rebuild the building," he said as he came nose to nose with the half dozen journalists who could be squeezed into the office.

Law has twice performed at the Young Vic in recent years and spoke of the intimacy of the 480-seat venue for both performers and the audience.

"As an audience member, I remember coming here and being thrilled at the proximity of the actors. And I can remember coming back and not believing it was the same space, because the capacity of the auditorium to adapt to different designs is extraordinary," he said.

The Young Vic was the brainchild of Laurence Olivier as a communal theatre for young actors. But when it opened in 1970, it was built to last only five years. Now the building is crumbling. The re-development will restore the theatre and expand the technical facilities, office space, bar and foyer.

Law said it was a "wonderful place to work ... but to be honest, it can be uncomfortable". However, in a long-term commitment to the venue, he said he would like to perform when it reopens in 2006.

Law, like other high-profile supporters of the board, is giving his own money to the appeal which has less than four months to be successful if work is to begin as scheduled at the end of July.

Even then, one final threat remains. The theatre is yet to hear whether it has secured £5m Arts Council lottery funding, without which it will close.

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