Interview: Felicity Jones, star of Like Crazy
The young actress is set to follow her Sundance hit with films by Warren Beatty and Ralph Fiennes
A year ago, Felicity Jones was asleep when she got a call from America. ‘I thought there’d been a terrible accident,’ she laughs. But this was no accident. On the line was the producer of her new film Like Crazy: the Sundance Film Festival had just awarded Jones the Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performance. ‘I hadn’t even realised that there was an awards ceremony at the end of Sundance. I was like, “What? What award?” I was completely flabbergasted.’
It’s this sort of sweet naïveté that seems to not only characterise the petite 28 year old, but many of the girl-next-door roles she’s filled in a host of British films, from Gervais and Merchant comedy Cemetery Junction to ’70s dance movie SoulBoy, to last year’s seaside-set Albatross. Like Crazy moves away from this template: playing Anna, a British student living in LA who falls in love with American aspiring furniture designer Jacob (Anton Yelchin), this is a breakthrough part for Jones, both personally and professionally.
‘Like Crazy has definitely been a door-opener,’ she acknowledges when we meet in London. ‘It’s changed so many things.’ Though too modest to admit it, the last year has seen her courted by the likes of Ralph Fiennes and Warren Beatty for future roles (more on that later). But Jones is more concerned with how the film, which was improvised, affected her attitude to acting. ‘It was like a gateway into something much more freeing and exciting,’ she says. ‘To improvise a film makes you a much better actor.’
The lack of a script-based safety in Like Crazy has resulted in a beguiling, naturalistic tone, as director Drake Doremus guides us through the ebb and flow of Anna and Jacob’s relationship. A traumatic-yet-tender evocation of love, their union becomes complicated when Anna’s visa expires and is later refused entry back into the US. ‘She’s a person who acts before she thinks,’ says Jones. ‘It’s obsession. She’s not thinking rationally. She’s obsessed with Jacob.’
Since completing Like Crazy, Jones has reunited with Doremus for his still-untitled film about a marital affair, and has shot Hysteria, a Victorian set comedy about the invention of the vibrator. Additionally, Ralph Fiennes has just cast her in his second directorial effort The Invisible Woman, a story about Charles Dickens’ affair with a young mistress named Nelly Ternan. If that wasn’t enough, Warren Beatty also wants her for his proposed film about Howard Hughes, in which he will play the eccentric billionaire.
It sounds light years away from her salad days on BBC radio soap The Archers, when she used to travel between Oxford, where she was reading English, and her native Birmingham, where she recorded the show. Now based in London, she still treasures her ability to walk around unnoticed, though it can’t be long before fame lands on her doorstep. ‘To lose your anonymity is a big exchange to make,’ she says, sounding worried. ‘I’d like to be able to walk to the shops without people knowing who I am. But I guess these things are out of my hands.’
Like Crazy, general release from Fri 3 Feb.