Welcome to Admiring Felicity Jones, your best source for everything Felicity Rose Hadley Jones since 2016. Felicity is known for her roles in The Theory of Everything, Inferno, A Monster Calls & Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Our goal is to keep you updated with every project, photoshoot and news from the career of the British actress. Enjoy your stay.
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The actress used to put pressure on herself, but a baby, a new film and British beach holidays keep her grounded, she explains

I’ve heard that Felicity Jones is an immersive actor; when she takes on roles she devotes herself to them like a nun. So it was with a shock of recognition that I saw her in her new film, The Last Letter from Your Lover, sitting in the features department of a modern national newspaper with a long history and huge archive. Jones’s journalist answers her desk phone with a wary, one-word “Features”, just as I used to answer the phone in The Times features department, at least back when I used a phone.

I can say with confidence that Jones finally nails the character of a “feature writer” — if I also had the looks and charisma of a Hollywood actress and spent my weeks falling in love with The Times archivist while on the trail of an intense 1960s love story buried in its stacks. (At The Times the archive editor is an esteemed woman some years my senior, so that romance may have to wait for the sequel.) What was Jones’s character insight for this contemporary feature writer? Oh, play her as if “she is always a bit hung over”, she replies. Yes, I guess that is exactly right.

Talking to Jones I can see that, as much as she immerses herself in character, she can never stop being extremely British and somewhat vintage (her modern feature writer even sports a signature retro beret, something I have to say I have never done, even when hung over, which, as Jones points out, might be a lot of the time). Put those together and she evokes those classic British actresses of the 1970s, such as Julie Christie, Joanna Lumley and Diana Rigg, who, like Jones, have an upright bearing masking their softness.

Most of all there’s that voice. It’s a rich mix of no-nonsense and RP, a dame in welly boots. Even her name sounds like something that could be conjured up in an Austin Powers movie — “Felicity” the aristocrat matched with “Jones” the eternal British trademark.

Her most garlanded performance is as the 1970s-era Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything, which was about the marriage of Stephen Hawking and won her an Oscar nomination. In this she starred with Eddie Redmayne, and she was also his romantic lead in The Aeronauts, a Victorian ballooning romp. They resemble each other like siblings. She is 37, but, like Redmayne, routinely plays characters ten years younger; they also share that fashionable overbite.

Yet here’s the difference. Unlike the Eton-educated Redmayne, Jones was born and bred in Birmingham and went to state school. Her parents met while working for the Wolverhampton Express & Star, but split when she was three. She was largely brought up by her mother, the divorce letting her know earlier than it does most people that things, as she has said, are not as safe as they seem.

Jones mentions “character-building”, and she built her own character. She was an introverted, hard-on-herself, determined and self-improving child. There is zero trace of Brummie in her voice. Brits are confused by the online video of her attempting to teach the American late-night TV host Conan O’Brien how to say “mucker” in Brum — it is the poshest “mucker” ever delivered.

Jones says she would never move to Los Angeles, despite her roles in the Hollywood blockbuster Star Wars and Spider-Man franchises. It’s “too nice. I don’t know what to do with myself when it’s too warm. I need some good British weather to keep my feet on the ground.”

It’s a good job that when she speaks to me via Zoom from her home the palette is grey, the weak London light filtering on to the pale face of someone who has had a baby and spent a year in curfew under our pallid skies. No Hollywood fake tan for her. She is off soon to a British beach holiday with her husband, the director Charles Guard, to dunk their one-year-old son, ritually, in our chilly waters, as she was dunked, ritually, as a child in some of the coldest seas imaginable in the name of bracing bravura. Got to train up the next generation?

“Exactly. It’s one of my favourite things. It’s funny now that cold water swimming has become ‘a thing’. I grew up on a diet of it. You just had to. It’s character-building.”

Acting was her cold-water shock. For the show-offs acting comes naturally, but for the shy like her “it’s an escape”.

“That’s how I got into acting [at a local Birmingham youth group]. Part of the reason for that was being able to build more confidence. I was quite shy when I was younger.”

Jones has been acting professionally since the age of 11, melding formative years with performative years, from the BBC’s The Worst Witch, then on through national institutions such as The Archers. While much ink has been spilt on whether Eton is now the green room for British stars such as Redmayne, Jones believes British actors do so well due to our uniquely advanced network of out-of-school acting groups. “That’s why the talent is so brilliant, because people start when they’re young.”

She doesn’t have any ambivalence about devoting that part of her childhood to working — for the precocious child it was like early graduation. “It’s amazing how much you can be really rubbish when you were a child acting and learn so much so that by the time people really see you it gives you a good ten years of figuring things out most people wouldn’t have.”

For her, growing up on sets means they feel something like home, but she wasn’t shy-passive, she was shy-ambitious. Acting gave her a ticket out of her life.

“It was just so exciting, and not just the acting but the independence. I was over shooting in London while living in Birmingham. So even at 13, 14, I was getting the train to London and spending long periods away from home.”

Although she was getting lead roles as a preteen, she drove herself to achieve more. Before exams she would routinely get so anxious she vomited. “I was quite a highly strung child. I think it’s just probably putting quite a lot of pressure on yourself. You want to achieve certain things and you’re quite determined. It hasn’t been all smooth plain sailing. Definitely.”

It’s strange, though, I say, because by the standards of her peers she was extraordinarily successful. She was even frantically splitting her time between an English degree at Oxford and a booming professional career. Why was she still worrying? “I think sometimes the two come together. When you’re quite high-achieving that often comes with a bit of anxiety. It’s the Devil’s combination, isn’t it?”

I read articles written about her in 2011, saying that she had become such a promising actress that the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was coming for her. With hindsight that report is as chilling as a horror movie.

“The industry was stuck in the 1950s. I had a meeting with him [Weinstein], and I was fortunate that my agent at the time said, ‘You know, let’s do it in the restaurant and I’ll come along. That’s the best way to have a meeting with Harvey.’ So I was definitely lucky.”

So you were protected by someone in the know? “Yes. Who was able to say, ‘Let’s do this in this way.’ Otherwise it would have been a very different situation. It was a closed and private industry and it has been fantastic to see it becoming more regulated. As we’ve seen there was a lot of terrible behaviour; it was the Wild West really. It’s been a fantastic revolution.”

The Last Letter from Your Lover has two storylines, one about Ellie the journalist, the other about a woman, played by Shailene Woodley, who is prevented by 1960s mores from following her heart. The drama, in an understated way, is about feminism, with the freedom and dominance of Jones’s promiscuous Ellie contrasted with the straitened lives of her female forebears. The film is based on a book by Jojo Moyes, has a female director and editor, and Jones and Woodley are executive producers.

“Reese Witherspoon has pioneered actors getting involved behind the scenes. We’ve had cinema that has been dominated by the male perspective for centuries. And so it’s wonderful that we’re starting to see more female directors starting to rebalance.

“I always took it for granted that I worked in a very male-dominated environment, and it’s only recently when I worked on sets and it’s been split equally with men and women. I realised it’s much more relaxed. Mixed environments are just better.”

Does she feel that she is asserting herself in the industry more, after those beginnings as literally a girl? “Through experience comes confidence; you feel like you know what you’re talking about. Growing up on sets and being on them so often, you do get to know every aspect of film-making. You want to start having a say in the stories that are told; stories dictate ideology.”

How has she conquered her anxieties? “I think it’s the pressure that you put yourself under, isn’t it? You learn to navigate pretty insane situations, but you can’t get there before you get there.”

Jones can still go to a London park with her son unrecognised, although occasionally someone will say, “ ‘I loved you in that . . . er . . . you’re . . .?’ It’s not the top level of interest that I witnessed [co-starring] with Tom Hanks. I can have a pretty normal life.”

Jones has said that having a baby just as the first lockdown hit was a “pretty scary” experience, but a year on she finds that motherhood and the pandemic have crystallised her priorities. “Increasingly I find that I just want to do stuff that I really care about and feel is worth doing. That’s particularly a ‘coming out of the pandemic’ thing. A lot of people have found that suddenly you’re going, ‘What actually is going to be meaningful?’ It’s not infinite the time that we have.”

As a child Jones created a highly pressured world for herself, but in having her own child she has found a way to release herself from it. “It just gives you a feeling of anarchy,” she says of having a baby, and here she laughs a transgressive, surprised laugh.

“A wonderful feeling of anarchy,” she repeats. “That’s the overriding notion, and how exciting to put that into work, into acting. Yeah: a feeling of ‘the rules do not apply’.” [Source]

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Current Projects
The Midnight Sky

Role: Sully Ginsburg
Release Date: 2020
A scientist, alone in the Arctic, tries to make contact with a spacecraft returning to Earth.
Last Letter from Your Lover

Role: Ellie Haworth
Release Date: 2021
A young journalist in London becomes obsessed with a series of letters she discovers that recounts an intense star-crossed love affair from the 1960s.
Borderland

Role: Unknown
Release Date: Unknown
An IRA member hunts for his wife's murderer, while also being tracked by the same killer.
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