Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones chose their words carefully when talking about their roles in the Steven Soderbergh film "Side Effects." It's not that the actors have great personal secrets to hide, they just don't want to give away any of the film's plot.
Law says the worst thing about being in the movie was that he didn't get to experience all of the twists because he knew what was coming.
Law plays a psychiatrist whose patient commits a violent act while under his care. Those actions are the result of the side effects of the drugs he's been giving her. Zeta-Jones plays the patient's former doctor.
A safe topic for both actors is talking about playing psychiatrists.
By the end of filming, Law had developed a new respect for the profession.
"A lot of the discussion around this film was the abuse of medicine or relying on medicine for all the wrong reasons. Of course medicine is also used for a lot of good reasons. I kind of left this job feeling very respectful of psychiatry," Law says.
He was excited about being in the film because the story deals with intelligent material more than banking on big booms. He also found the topic timely.
Not only did Law get to deal with all of the discussion of prescription medications, but his character also has a fascinating home life. The husband and father begins to lose focus on those he loves as he gets pulled deeper and deeper into the mystery that's destroying his career.
"I suppose it was important for me to make it very clear that this guy was good at what he did. But also, make clear when and how a situation will arise for a psychiatrist that will impact his or her private life," Law says. "As an actor, I have to work out where the drama is best played out because as the story dictates his life starts to implode. It was important for me to have a sense of this guy kind of crumbling, if you like.
"At the same time, there was a beautiful subtlety to the story where you aren't sure if he has the upper hand or is there a time when he's going mad. All of that is in the writing. Sometimes you are lucky as an actor where you just join the dots."
The other lure for Law was the chance to work with Soderbergh again. Law starred in the director's 2011 film "Contagion."
"It's nice when you are on board on something and you feel like you are the right person for the job. It gives you confidence," he says.
Zeta-Jones talks about playing a doctor, but she remains cautious even with a general discussion of the role. For her, it was a matter of playing the character as professionally as possible and letting all of the deeper elements unfold through the course of the film.
Being in the film had an extra bonus.
"I never went to college, but I wanted an M.D. after my name. I'm really quite flattered that he fulfilled my mother's dreams," Zeta-Jones says.
As for her own dreams about being an actor, Zeta-Jones has been careful in recent years when picking projects. It takes a lot for her to leave her husband (Michael Douglas), children and dogs for an extended time. "Side Effects" offered her the chance to play a complicated character involved with a complicated plot, which was enough for her to be in the film.
She also was lured by the chance to work with Soderbergh again. She worked on his 2004 "Ocean's Twelve" and 2000 "Traffic."
"He rubbed my feet when I was pregnant while doing 'Traffic,' so that's why I keep coming back. He looked after a pregnant woman so well, I just always knew I would be in good hands. I'd pretty much do the phone book for him," Zeta-Jones says.