Felicity Jones is in the midst of the biggest year of her career. First up, the British actress and Oscar nominee is starring as Dr. Sienna Brooks opposite Tom Hanks in Ron Howard’s “Inferno,” the third film based on Dan Brown’s bestsellers. On the heels of that is “A Monster Calls” where the 33-year-old plays a single mom with terminal cancer, before topping it all off as Rebel Alliance fighter Jyn Erso, in “Star Wars: Rogue One.” It’s going to be a life-changer. Despite being on the cusp of global fame, Jones says she’s still got a lot to learn and explains why she prefers the quiet life.
How was it to work with Ron Howard?
I’ve always said that you learn something with every project. On this occasion, “Inferno” showed me that nothing is carved in stone regarding work, because it was something completely different to what I’ve done. I learned from Ron and Tom that you have to enjoy your job for it to be noticed on the big screen. I worked with two of the most creative and fun people in the industry. While shooting we laughed so much that just remembering it my stomach hurts — the team was so full of energy and enthusiasm. It was like it was everybody’s first movie, and that was contagious.
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What can you tell us about your character?
I liked the way they show her as a strong, intelligent woman. She is a doctor at a hospital in Florence, who looks after Robert Langdon after his accident. Throughout the story she performs various tasks that put her in the spotlight. I think the burden she has shows the potential of women without falling into feminism or excesses or weaknesses.
You’ve worked alongside some huge names in your career. Have you ever felt intimidated?
Not to date. I’ve had great support from my colleagues, both on film and television. I have never felt threatened or belittled during any projects. Because that is like being afraid, and if there is something I am sure of, it is how to do my job. Obviously, there is always criticism or comments when I think, “That would probably not be said to another actor.” There is still much to achieve to have gender balance in this industry, but I think great steps have been made.
You’re playing a rebel alliance fighter in “Star Wars: Rogue One.” Did you get to kick some ass?
It was exhausting work; I had to take Kung Fu classes and learn how to fight. I left behind any English elegance. In the end I surprised myself at what I was able to cope with. Jyn Erso has a strength and power to her beyond the physical, and that’s why I think she is very similar to the character of Princess Leia. Jyn is smaller than the others around her, but she has enormous strength.
This could be a career-defining year for you. Are you starting to attract more attention from the press and paparazzi?
I think I’m too boring for them and I need to be more outrageous. [Laughs] Because of the kind of films I do, I’m not in the spotlight for many, so I’m still quite lucky. I can still go out without people noticing my presence. I am usually not an actress who calls attention to her private life and I just want to do it through the characters I play on the big screen. I hope to keep my anonymity for a long time, especially in London, where people are always looking for a tabloid and sensationalist story.
What makes you happy?
I’m a simple woman, who’s happy with an ice cream or a big hug.