- Simon Garner
Actor of the Week: Felicity Jones
Our Actor of the Week this week hails from the West Midlands in the United Kingdom, just up the road from us here at Life of Films! She’s been plenty of places since then, including a galaxy far, far away - the wonderful Felicity Jones. Jones has been in several high-profile films and sagas, showcasing the fact that she is, more and more, a go-to name for quality, further backed up by having an Oscar nomination to her name.
Her early career saw her appear in a number of TV series, and later on, she is perhaps better known, by some audiences, for her role as Emma Grundy on the longstanding radio show The Archers. 2011 was the year she caught real attention, and with it numerous awards, when she starred in Like Crazy. Starring alongside quality such as Jennifer Lawrence and the late Anton Yelchin, it’s no wonder this film was well received. Felicity plays Anna, a british student who falls for an American student. The complication comes when Anna is banned from the U.S. for staying in the country after the expiration of her visa. A classic romcom, a genre everyone has a soft spot for, and one of many genres that Jones has had success in.
Another film in which Jones was a standout was Inferno, where she starred alongside a former AotW winner in Tom Hanks. The Robert Langdon films all have a huge twist, and these twists are in the form of a person turing coat at a vital moment, revealing themselves to be a foe to Langdon, rather than an ally. This is where Jones’ character, Sienna Brooks, comes in (SPOILER ALERT). Initially, she seems to be working with Langdon to solve a plot to release a deadly virus across the world. However, she turns, revealing herself to be the lover of the now-deceased Bertrand Zobrist, mastermind of the virus plot. Jones plays both angles so well in Inferno. She’s likeable, clever and seemingly driven to assist saving the world in one breath, and then in another, she almost comes across as a brainwashed victim, impossible to be reasoned with and with one singular goal: to fulfil the pact she made with Zobrist. This film, unlike its predecessors, wasn’t overly well received generally, however Jones was undoubtedly a highlight, providing an intriguing character with a complex background, particularly after her true colours are revealed.
A big factor in Felicity’s AotW win this week came in the shape of The Theory of Everything. Somehow, I’d not got round to seeing this film, and, due to the sad passing of one of the world’s biggest figures, Stephen Hawking, I was inspired in negative circumstances to finally sit down and watch it. The Theory of Everything depicts the life of the great man, and largely focuses on how he met his wife, Jane, and how he, and they as a couple, came to terms with his Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis, and ultimate tragic deterioration. Jones plays the part of Jane, and tells her side of the story impeccably. From devoting herself to being Hawking’s rock, to the strain it put on the relationship, Felicity delivers every emotion that came with the story to a flawless standard. This is the role that garnered her aforementioned Oscar nomination, really hammering home the quality of the performance. With Jones working alongside Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his tremendous portrayal of Hawking, this film is an absolute must-see.
My favourite role of Felicity Jones’ career so far is that of Jyn Erso in the Star Wars prequel spin-off Rogue One. Jones’ character, Jyn, is the daughter of an Imperial scientist, Galen Erso, and joins the Rebellion to steal the plans to the dreaded Death Star. Rogue One was a bold move in my opinion, because, while it utilised all the classic Star Wars ingredients, it moved away from the classic template in many ways. From dropping the opening crawl, to Michael Giacchino overhauling the iconic score by John Williams, it was ambitious to say the least. And it worked. I’ve heard a handful of rumblings that characters in Rogue One tended to be throwaway and bland, but I feel this is down to the age we live in, where it seems everyone needs to compare and debate everything, rather than enjoying things for what they are - but that’s for another time. I felt Jyn was a great addition to the Star Wars universe, and Jones is the main reason for this. She brings emotion, humour and grit to Jyn, and even pulls off the classic ‘May the Force be with us’. I remember seeing something about Felicity saying she felt nervous when it came to filming this scene, and it just goes to show that Star Wars means that much to the best in the business, it was lovely to read. Felicity’s on-screen father, Galen, was played by our first of many Actor of the Weeks, the smooth Mads Mikkelsen.
There’s no question in my mind that, having already gained an Oscar nomination in a relatively young career, Felicity Jones shall go on to even bigger and better things, as her roles seem to just be high-end in recent years. I look forward to whatever comes next from her. Great going, Stardust!