Jones plays a young university student so in love with blossoming brainy scientist Stephen Hawking that she insists on marrying him and seeing him through a devastating and potentially lethal illness. Except that he lives. And despite the paralyzing ravages of ALS, Hawking becomes a hugely successful physicist, perhaps the most famous in the world, thanks to this extraordinary woman who uses her wits and agility to become an extension of her husband. She literally saves his life.
But she also takes on more than she bargained for. Director James Marsh wanted to do this slice of the Hawkings’ life because of the complexity of balancing the dynamics in this marriage. Stephen Hawking is not the center of this film, he argues: “Jane is an equally fascinating character. We met Jane. She is a strong resourceful woman with a sense of how to get things done practically. Why wouldn’t she be? She enables so much of his scientific career with her emotional support and practical help. I was intrigued by this female character behind the public figure we all know, who is pretty much unacknowledged in terms of her contribution to his public life.”
The exclusive clip below shows Jane Hawking at a pivotal moment in their relationship when it’s beginning to shift gears near the end of their 25 years together. “It’s fascinating all the way through, how they are constantly adapting, the conditions would change,” Jones says. “The weight on these people’s shoulders! It was a huge responsibility. Stephen loses his speech, he becomes less audible and people have to lip read. Jane and he are responding to that. After his tracheotomy he has no speech. It’s a testament to them that they are always finding new ways to keep the relationship going, despite the hurdles. He needed 24-hour care after the tracheotomy at great cost, financial and physical. You have people living in the home with you all the time. Jane made the decision, he didn’t know until later that she was the one who said, ‘don’t turn off life support.’ She saved his life.”