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.
Felicity Rose Hadley Jones was born October 17, 1983, in Birmingham, England. Her father Gareth Jones was a journalist for the Wolverhampton 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 got a divorce 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. But she's thankful she never because she doesn't think she'd have survived. It was one of her teachers that suggested that she study English instead.
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.” He said that she portrays emotion with ease through her eyes and she easily opens the window for an audience.
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 the 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 that they weren't expecting the film to be received like it was. She thinks she was a little naive to think that way too. She went on to say that they put everything into filming it and it was pretty overwhelming.
Like Crazy was directed by Drake Doremus, who worked with her again in 2013’s Breathe In. He told Collider in 2013 that he would still like to work with her again “on the right thing.”
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 she wondered how she could be on the screen as well as in the cinema at the same time.
Speaking to Esquire about the role Jones said she was really happy to have made something that people could respond to. She said character-driven roles are few and far between, so she revelled in the role.
Her acting career
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, and she admitted she's love to wear a leather suit and being doing stunts, she asked someone to start a petition for her.
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. She said she met with Lena Dunham and they had loads in common, with the same interests in film, so they decided they'd work together.
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, speaking to The Mirror, she has dated recently but it's awkward. She says she gets so nervous she doesn't really know what to say.
Helen Mirren became a mentor to Felicity after the two starred together in 2010’s adaptation of The Tempest. Felicity is full of praise for the actress, hailing how she works and behaves.
Other actresses she looks to for influence and inspiration include Samantha Morton and Helen Bonham Carter.
But for her, the standout actress and performance will always go to Vivien Leigh, when she starred in Gone with the Wind.