Audiences first fell for Felicity Jones in Like Crazy, Drake Doremus’s love story in which Jones plays a British student struggling to continue a relationship with her American boyfriend after she’s barred from entering the U.S. for overstaying her visa. Now the actress is back with another romance, The Theory of Everything, in which she plays one half of real-life couple Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde, his first wife. A few days before the premiere, Jones spoke with Vogue.com about the extraordinary role and what it was like to meet the real Mrs. Hawking.
What attracted you to the part of Jane Wilde?
Well, it all started when my agent sent me the script and I read it through all in one sitting. I loved that it was this love story and not a straightforward biopic. It was about a relationship and so much more—why are we here, the nature of time, all of these broader questions about life. I knew I wanted the part of Jane so much. [Director] James Marsh actually offered me the part right after the audition. Usually you’re left hanging for two weeks, but fortunately he had made up his mind.
This was your first time playing a real, living character in a film. Were you scared?
Yes, it’s petrifying! It’s nerve-racking. There’s so much detail. You’re telling the story of 25 years of someone’s life.
You met the real Jane Hawking. How did that happen?
It came through the film. It was important for Jane to build trust with James. It was eight years before she even agreed to let [screenwriter] Anthony McCarten adapt her book.
What did you think of her?
I first had tea with Jane, in a very English way, and started chatting with her. What I found very intriguing was that she had this incredible ability to command a room. She had that army general air about her. There’s this scene in the movie where Jane is talking to Stephen’s father, and he says that his illness was going to be a very heavy defeat. I did that scene after I met Jane because, after that, I understood she was leading a battle.
What were you thinking about before you met her? Was there anything in particular you really wanted to ask her?
Well, the thing that I was most intrigued about was seeing the way she moved and listening to her voice and capturing her physicality. I knew she loved dancing, and I observed everything, even the way she answered the door, held her cup of tea. Those were very important details.
What was something surprising you learned about Jane?
She told me this lovely story of when Stephen was in the wheelchair, and they were at a wedding and everyone was dancing, and there was a moment when they both decided to charge onto the dance floor. And it was him in the chair spinning and she was dancing around him. They were very passionate. They both didn’t care what people thought. There was something rebellious in both of them.
Have you heard her reaction to the film?
I spoke to Jane and she was very complimentary about the performances. We texted throughout the filming, and I would get a text saying “Hi Jane, from Jane.” We got on very well.
Did you also meet Stephen Hawking?
Yes, I met both of them. He’s so charismatic. It’s incredible how he puts these messages out in the world. He recently said, “It’s important to be curious.” I think that idea is really a huge part of his survival.
What was the hardest part about filming this movie?
Knowing that this is something that both Jane and Stephen had actually gone through. You realize that they just had such a struggle throughout their lives, but you also admired them, because there was such love and humor in their lives. They were so witty. I was always left with this sense of this extraordinary determination between them. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own issues. I’m constantly reminded about how to not self-pity in any difficult situation.
What are you working on next?
I am just preparing for a movie called A Monster Calls, by Juan Antonio Bayona. He directed The Impossible with Naomi Watts. It’s a story by Patrick Ness about three generations dealing with my character, who has cancer, and a little boy who is dealing with that. Bayona is just a genius, and I’m very excited. I also have this movie coming out next year, True Story, with James Franco and Jonah Hill. It’s not a comedy. It’s a thriller, actually.
How do you feel about all the Oscar nomination rumblings?
This film is something we were so passionate about. I felt so included by James in the process. From the beginning, it was very collaborative, so it feels like something that I’m very proud of. I love that people are responding to it. My friend went to see it, and he texted me two days later and said he was still thinking about it. Those are the movies I personally love—the ones that you can’t stop thinking about for weeks.
The post Felicity Jones on The Theory of Everything and Meeting the Real Mrs. Stephen Hawking appeared first on Vogue.