British actress Felicity Jones makes a name for herself with “Like Crazy,” a lyrical, honest portrayal of a a young couple (Jones and Anton Yelchin) dealing with the harsh realities of romance at odds with the practical world. It’s a bold, emotionally honest performance, and one Jones had to maintain throughout shooting — the heavily improvised film was shot nearly round-the-clock, with the two leads never knowing what exactly would make it on screen. An odd working experience, to be sure, but one Jones says changed her life.
You were pretty much in character around the clock for this movie. How was that?
You just have to live and breathe it for the time that you’re making the movie, so you don’t have the mind-space to think about anything else but that. And so we were all at a point in our lives where we wanted and were able to just completely immerse ourselves in this project. And so we just spent every minute of the day with each other. It became this rather intimate triumvirate with Drake, Anton and I. We all felt that we wanted to make something unusual and wanted to be brave and not be conventional.
How has your approach to other projects changed after working this way?
I found after “Like Crazy,” it was a revolution in many ways, in that all the ideas I’d had about acting and about performance were completely changed. And after “Like Crazy,” I felt this incredible calmness that I’d never had before. As an actor, because you don’t have control over the whole product, you become quite the perfectionist. But after “Like Crazy” I suddenly just felt more relaxed about letting things be, and that the whole ethos of improvisation is that things will happen, and interesting creative things will happen if you relax. And I took that mantra with me. I think every few years there’s a job that completely changes everything, and “Like Crazy” was one of those jobs.
The film skips over a lot of the bigger, more traditional movie moments for a romance.
What’s interesting is — because we shot so much footage and the takes are so long — is that you just keep going until you find something interesting. You can be filming 40-minute takes and things like that. It was really unclear where the story would go, and actually things that were in the outline that were in the original script didn’t end up in the final film. I was so surprised when I first watched it that you spend so little with them when they’re actually enjoying their relationship. That’s such a small part of the film, and in the original script that was half the movie.
That summer courtship montage does go by incredibly fast.
Exactly, exactly. But in a way I think that’s what makes it so powerful, because as an audience you feel like, “I want more of that!” Which is how they feel. It’s exactly what we want. We want to manipulate your emotions.
How do you decompress from making a film like this?
Um… lots of alcohol. (laughs) Don’t put that in. Just reading and watching movies, and moving very little from the couch to the kitchen is the main thing.
Name: Felicity Jones
Past work: The Oxford-educated actress has appeared on camera in such British staples as “the Tempest,” “Brideshead Revisited” and “Doctor Who.”
Earning acclaim: Jones won a Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival for her performance in “Like Crazy.”
Up next: Jones can soon be seen in the BBC thriller “Page Eight” and “Hysteria,” about the invention of the vibrator. She also recently completed filming a second feature with “Like Crazy” director Drake Doremus.