Former Stamford musician plays Jude Law’s body double in King Henry VIII film Firebrand
A former town musician is set to make a notable debut on the big screen as a body double for British film star Jude Law.
After taking voluntary redundancy from his long career as an IT manager with the civil service, Dale Farrow signed up to a film extras agency in 2019.
“I didn’t want to work full-time again, I just wanted something to do to fit around other things and someone suggested signing up to an extras agency,” said Dale, 60.
“I thought I would end up playing darts in the back of the Woolpack in Emmerdale or something. There were no expectations of having any sort of extra input.”
Dale, who now lives in Yorkshire and runs a media business, is used to a certain amount of limelight as a musician, having been in bands since his days at Stamford School.
Among his years on the town's music scene, he was bassist with cult punk band March to the Grave in the 1980s and still regularly visits family and friends in Stamford.
The reduction in filming during covid limited his opportunities at first, but the long-awaited call came in April last year.
It was to work on Firebrand, a film about the final days of Henry VIII and his sixth wife Catherine Parr.
Dale was asked to appear nude for a bedroom scene, but that was not the end of the surprises.
“Then they said I would be a body double for the lead actor,” he added.
“They couldn’t tell me anything more about that at the time.
“I’m quite a big chap so I tried to work out who it could be - possibly Nick Frost or someone like that. I didn’t stop to think that the main actor would be wearing body suits to make him look bigger.”
Shortly before setting off for three days of filming at Haddon Hall, in Derbyshire, came the big reveal.
“At the end of the meeting they said, ‘by the way it’s Jude Law’. I thought ‘wow - we’re dealing with acting royalty!’”
After the bedroom scene, complete with flesh-coloured garment – ‘you don’t see anything that you wouldn’t on Skegness beach’ - Dale played Henry’s corpse as it was being prepared for burial.
It was there he met the Hollywood film star.
“Before the scene, Jude came in, said good morning and sat with me for about quarter-of-an-hour and had a really good chat,” he said.
“He was absolutely fantastic – a really nice chap.”
Dale added: “A week before this scene they asked me to take a photo of my torso so they could create a prosthetic torso.
“It was freakily accurate. They put a plastic shield between me and the prosthetic stomach because they had to cut it open with a knife.”
The main challenges proved to be the damp and cold of the dungeon in which it was filmed and a bout of cramp.
“Once they had emptied me out I then had to be stuffed with herb and spices to fill the cavity for burial,” he added.
“I was basically Paxo-ed. At the end of the day I smelt like a roast chicken. It was the most bizarre day.”
He was then called back days later for an extra bathing scene.
“Because it was a sound take, Jude was sat behind me while I was bathing, humming along as if it was him being washed,” Dale recalled.
“He then had to sit where I’d been with a big blue sheet from the neck down. I sat with the special effects guy who had these two screens.
“As it was being done he put Jude Law’s head exactly on my shoulders. It looked absolutely seamless.”
And there was still time for one last perk.
“The washing scene was Jude’s last day of filming so they had the wrap party that day and I was invited along!”
Firebrand had its global premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last week and the film, as well as Law’s performance, is already being tipped for awards season early next year.
Amazon Prime has already snapped up the TV rights, and although it’s general release date into cinemas has yet to be confirmed, Dale’s posterior has already earned honourable mentions in film reviews in the Guardian and the Financial Times.
“Just to be there and see the filming was fascinating enough, but to be involved like that was quite an incredible experience,” he said.
“Whatever I do now, I’ll never be able to top it.”