Up-and-comer Felicity Jones has had one hell of a year. The British beauty arrived in Park City earlier this year as a relative unknown and came out as a full fledged indie queen with Sundance's Best Actress gong (beating out Elizabeth Olsen, Brit Marling and Adepero Oduye) for her stellar work in Drake Doremus' indie love story "Like Crazy." She's since been on roll, appearing in the David Hare's "Page Eight" opposiite Bill Nighy and Rachel Weisz and netting a Gotham Awards nomination for Breakthrough Actor.
Honor Roll is a daily series for December that will feature new or previously published interviews, profiles and first-persons of some of the year's most notable cinematic voices. Today we're revisiting an interview we did with "Like Crazy" breakout Felicity Jones, who won both a Gotham and Sundance's Best Actress prize for her brave performance.
Prior to screening "Like Crazy" at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, Jones wrapped her second outing with Doremus. "It’s a companion piece to 'Like Crazy' in many ways," she said of the untitled project. "It’s about a young woman who goes to live with an American family and falls in love with the husband. It’s about loving someone you shouldn’t." You can next see Jones in "Hysteria," a period sex romp starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy, which recently got picked up by Sony Pictures Classics.
Your stellar year is finally coming to a close with "Like Crazy" doing pretty solid business in theaters. What’s this whirlwind of a year been like for you?
It’s been very surreal. Especially making something like “Like Crazy” which was a very small independent film made for very little money. It’s been absolutely incredible this journey that this film that had. It’s obviously very exciting.
How did you first come across the project?
It was sent to me by my agent. I read it in one sitting and absolutely loved it. I couldn’t put it down. There was a lot for me to get my teeth into. I spoke with Drake and he asked me to make a tape.
What did the actual script read like?
It’s an outline. A 50-page outline, but it’s very detailed. So it has points we have to say within the scene to keep the plot moving. But then around that we find dialogue and find a way of expressing those points in as naturalistic a way as possible.
What made you take that leap while reading this outline to see a fully-fledged film at the end of the tunnel?
The tone was very clear from the outline. Many of the tracks that were in the final film were originally in the outline. Drake gave us a CD to listen to when we were driving around LA. I trusted Drake really. I felt that he had a very strong vision. I like the style of his films and the way he works. He makes the performances the focus. To have that opportunity was something I’d been desperate for.
The press has been having a lot of fun with the story of the audition tape you sent in that won you the role. The infamous shower scene...
It makes it sound so saucy which wasn’t intended.
I’m curious, who shot this audition?
It was just me and two friends in my flat in East London.
Were you told to film that scene in particular, or did you instinctually know in order to nab the part you had to pull that scene off?
I felt that that scene was vital for understanding the story and for understanding Anna. These characters, they spend years trying to be together. The tragedy in a way is that once they’re together; they don’t know if it’s what they want. So that felt like the key moment to understanding “Like Crazy.”
It's the last scene in the film. Was it shot last?
No, we did that in the first week. We were lucky that we managed to do the school scenes when they first meet on the first day. But everything from then on was out of order, because we had to get out of locations.
You’ve done a lot of work prior “Like Crazy,” but nothing quite like this. How did Drake work with you to make you and Anton so comfortable improvising off one-another?
Well, there were very few people on set. So it was often just the three of us. Drake doesn’t like people to come in for checks in between scenes because he feels it breaks it up. So you can’t be too vain and be worrying about what you look like. You just have to get on with it.
It’s about following your instincts. He’s looking for those first instincts.
What was your initial reaction when you saw the finished film and the takes that he chose to include?
Well, it’s always strange watching yourself. It’s not a very nice experience because you’re obviously very self-critical. So the first time I watched it, I couldn’t really see the film objectively. It was only later, when I watched it in Toronto that I could finally appreciate it and see the film as a whole. I’m really proud of it. I think Drake did a really wonderful job.
What did you shoot immediately following “Like Crazy.”?
I shot a film called “Hysteria.”
Which just got picked up by Sony Pictures Classics.
Yeah! Which is very exciting.
Was it weird going from something like “Like Crazy,” a film that’s so modern and indie, to a period piece where you couldn’t deviate away from the script?
It was just a very different experience. But I took all that I learned on “Like Crazy” and put that into “Hysteria.” The fact that the only thing that's important is the interaction between those two people on screen. You do everything to make that as believable as possible.
Is that what you really took away from the experience of making “Like Crazy”?
Yeah. You have to keep doing it and keep doing takes until it feels like it’s right. And to not be self-conscious.