Hit & Run: Second fiddle is best

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The Independent Online

When hosting the 2005 Oscars, Chris Rock asked a pertinent question. "Who is Jude Law? Why is he in every movie I have seen in the last four years?

Even if he's not acting in it, if you look at the credits he makes the cupcakes or something." Law had indeed been involved in six films released during the previous year, with leading roles in four of them. And Sean Penn chastised Rock, insisting Law was one of Hollywood's finest actors. Which may be true, but in his leading roles (think Alfie, Sleuth, The Holiday) Law has hardly shone. Nor have the films where he received top billing performed as hoped at the box office. Yet when, during his early Hollywood career, he put in a supporting turn (think Road to Perdition, AI, The Talented Mr Ripley) he was uniformly praised – and so, by and large, were the films.

Colin Farrell did great work as a supporting actor in Minority Report, yet his transition to Hollywood hero yielded decidedly mixed results such as SWAT and Alexander. Perhaps in the cases of Farrell and Law, leading man looks belie a supporting actor's talent. And both – fresh from paying tribute to Heath Ledger by taking sections of his part in The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus – are looking to rejuvenate their CVs with supporting roles in forthcoming films: Law is playing Watson in Guy Ritchie's version of Sherlock Holmes, while Farrell plays protégé to Jeff Bridges' craggy old country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. Blink at the wrong moment during the trailer and you'll miss him altogether.

Perhaps they're taking leaves out of the books of their forebears. Former heartthrob Alec Baldwin, for instance, got a second shot at wild success when he grew jowls and broke out his brilliant sense of humour. John Travolta, too, has weight gain and Quentin Tarantino to thank for his career's second act. Though I'm not sure anyone would argue that Battlefield Earth is of the same quality as 30 Rock. Tim Walker

A tree is for life, not just for Christmas

Fairy lights, a mile of tinsel and plastic baubles festooned from top to toe: Christmas trees aren't the most ecologically friendly of Yuletide traditions. But a small start-up, the Christmas Tree Man, based in Charminster, Dorset, is trying to change all that. The company rents out firs and spruces for the holiday period, then takes them back and re-plants them. It's a handy way of lowering your carbon footprint – and watching a tree grow along with your children.

"You can give something back without spoiling all the fun by getting a nicer tree than you would otherwise. You can eat your food-mile-rich Christmas dinner and not feel too bad about it," says Jimmy Hayes, managing director of the Christmas Tree Man. Hayes says this year his firm has had record demands – selling 300 trees over the last month (trees cost from £49, and can be delivered to your door). He's even supplied London mayor Boris Johnson and the Archbishop of Canterbury. "People have carved their initials in the bark to make sure they get the same tree back the following year," adds Hayes. Dorset dog-walkers should take care their pets don't cock a leg against a tree with the initials "BJ" carved into it. That's spoken for. Rob Sharp