Felicity Jones is set to star in what’s sure to be one of the year’s biggest films, Star Wars: Rogue One, so we thought we’d share some facts you didn’t know about the actress.
Promotion for the film has already begun, and it hits cinemas December 16, so expect to see a lot more of the British beauty over the coming weeks.
In the first spin-off film in the Star Wars saga, Jones plays Jyn Erso, a rogue enlisted by the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the first Death Star before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Ahead of the release, we share some facts that you might not know about the actress.
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Felicity Rose Hadley Jones was born October 17, 1983, in Birmingham, England. Her father Gareth Jones was a journalist for the Wolverhamptom Express and Star newspaper and her mother Julia Hadley worked in the advertising departments of the same newspapers. Her older brother works as a film editor.
Her parents divorced when she was just three years old and herself and her brother were primarily raised by Julia. Jones’ mum also had a passion for the arts, taking her children to movies and the theatre, with Jones realising she had a passion for acting as well as a pre-teen when she joined a drama club at the Custard Factory.
Jones studied English at Oxford. However, she once considered law instead.
“I’m so thankful I didn’t do that. I don’t know if I would have survived it,” Jones told her hometown newspaper The Birmingham Post. “It was my English teacher who recommended that I do English at university. I had a drama teacher called Miss Mulhearn who was so supportive.”
If she had gone into law, she wouldn’t have been able to develop her natural talent as an actress. Ralph Fiennes, who directed Jones in 2013’s The Invisible Woman, told Vogue that she is a “natural actress.”
“She is a totally natural actress who can open a window for the audience. Through her eyes she conveys a rich inner life, full of emotion,” Fiennes said.
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Jones first started acting when she was just 11, she appeared alongside Keira Knightley in a TV movie The Trouble Seekers and then went on to play Ethel Hallow in The Worst Witch and the Weirdsister College.
Her first big role was actually on radio, she played Emma Grundy on The Archers, a long-running UK radio soap drama. She stayed in the role even while studying at Oxford and played the part for a decade. Other early roles for Jones, before her breakout year in 2011, include Margot Frank in 2009’s The Diary of Anne Frank, 2008’s Brideshead Revisited and a part in a 2008 episode of Doctor Who.
2011 is considered Jones’ breakout year, she caught the attention of Hollywood by starring in Like Crazy with the late Anton Yelchin.
Her performance garnered her critical acclaim and film festival awards. She was named Best Female Newcomer at the U.K. Empire Awards, won Breakthrough Actor at the Gotham Awards and picked up the New Hollywood Award at the Hollywood Film Awards. In 2011, Jones also made Chalet Girl.
And while many of her early roles required costumes from the past, so she was happy to make Chalet Girl in 2011. She told the Guardian that it was “something of a relief” to play a modern girl.
Speaking about the response to Like Crazy, Jones told the Telegraph in 2012: “None of us was really expecting the film to be received in the way it was. When I look back now, we were quite naive in a way. We put everything we had into making it, and it was very fast and totally all-encompassing and overwhelming. The fact that people like it has just stopped us in our tracks.”
Like Crazy was directed by Drake Doremus, who worked with her again in 2013’s Breathe In. However, Doremus decided to pick Kristen Stewart as the star of his next film, this year’s Equals. He told Collider in 2013 that he would still like to work with her again “on the right thing.”
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Her biggest role to date
The current highlight of her career has to be her 2014 performance as Jane Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything, a biopic charting the life and love of Jane Wilde Hawking and the world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, with Eddie Redmayne playing him. The film received plenty of critical acclaim, and she received plenty of nominations including an Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award and Screen Actors Guild Award.
The highest praise came from the woman she portrayed, describing Jones’ work as “astounding”, Jane Hawking said: “I thought, ‘How can I be on the screen and in a cinema seat at the same time?'”
Telling Esquire about the role, she said: “It’s lovely to have made something people have a visceral response to. It’s just very exciting. You don’t get to make films that are purely character-driven, it’s very rare, and so I am reveling in it, actually.”
Her acting career
In another Guardian interview, Jones said she really likes to get into a role. “Without sounding too pretentious, I feel my job is almost like becoming a monk or a nun – it’s a calling,” she said.
Felicity was set to star opposite Julia Roberts in 2012’s Mirror, Mirror, but had to turn down the role because she had already agreed to star in the stage production of Luise Miller in London.
For her role in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 she played Felicia, and many thought this character would be Black Cat. But since the film wasn’t a big hit, and has now been rebooted again, it will forever remain a what-if.
But Jones was definitely interested in the role. In an interview with GQ, Jones was asked about it. “Being vacuum-packed into a leather suit, doing backflips?! I’d love that,” she said. “Can you start a petition for me?”
However, by June 2015, she seemed resigned to the fact that she might never play the character. She told Clevver Movies that there were no plans, but would “love to play her.”
Felicity made a splash in primetime this year with a guest spot on the hit show ‘Girls.’ “[Lena Dunham and I] met in L.A. and just had a discussion and chat and had loads of similar ideas about the kind of films we like, and it just seemed like it’d be fun to work together,” she recalls.
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After her 10-year romance with British artist Ed Fornieles came to an end in 2013, Felicity admits that she is having trouble navigating the single scene, telling ‘The Mirror,’ “I went on a couple of dates recently and they were very awkward. You know when you are so nervous you don’t know what to say to each other but you really like the person?”
Helen Mirren became a mentor to Felicity after the two starred together in 2010’s adaptation of The Tempest. “I just love the way she works – in a very straightforward, un-flashy way – and she achieves great things,” Felicity tells ‘Interview’ magazine, adding, “the way she behaved was something I wanted to emulate. She’s very calm and she doesn’t ever let how others perceive her get in the way of her work. She’s completely un-jaded.”
Jones lists actors Helen Bonham Carter and Samantha Morton as two of her main influences.
Her favourite actress is Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind.