Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

by Gabriel Lerman December 29, 2014

Armando Gallo/HFPA

When someone watches The Theory of Everything for the first time, it seems that the story revolves around the complicated life of Stephen Hawking, the famous scientist and writer who changed the way the masses understand physics while fighting ALS, the neurodegenerative disease that slowly paralyzes the bodies of those affected. But if you take a closer look, without taking anything away from the amazing performance by Eddie Redmayne as Hawking, it is easy to realize that the film works as a whole due to another astonishing acting lesson. Felicity Jones plays the part of Stephen's wife, Jane, from the moment they meet at college when as 18 year-old students to the day when, already divorced from him, she accompanies Stephen to the Royal Gardens to meet the Queen. Since the story is told from her point of view, we feel for her character, but we simply go along with her, taking her path of ultimate love and sacrifice as the most natural thing, just like the real Jane Hawking saw it when she decided to stay with the love of her life and work on having a normal family, even if the health of Steven was getting worse every day. Her solid performance is the one who allows the viewer to connect with Redmayne at an emotional level. When the film was introduced for the first time to audiences during the past Toronto Film Festival, Felicity explained to the HFPA: "what always attracts me is a woman who has layers, who has something I can get my teeth into, who I empathize with. I feel so much an advocate of Janet Hawking. I like women who have been eclipsed from history in some ways. They are not out there in the frontline, they are not the famous ones. They are the ones in the background who do a lot, the less glamorous staff, the more tedious things. I think it's important to know their stories too. I feel this sort of responsibility, particularly for female history. It does matter to me that we do hear these stories, that they are not invisible women”.

Even if she's only 31, Jones is a veteran of film, stage and television, where she started at 12 with a starring role in the family adventure The Treasure Seekers. A popular face in British television before venturing into film, Felicity had her first taste of celebrity when as a teen she become the antagonist in the TV series The Worst Witch, about a school for magic that in a way preceded Hogwarts, and in its follow up, Weirdsister College. Obviously full of talent, she was supported in her dreams not only by her parents, but also by her uncle, Michael Hadley, a character actor in film and TV in England.

Once she blossomed into a beautiful young woman, Felicity delighted British viewers with the lead in Northanger Abbey, a key part in the iconic series Doctor Who and as the older sister of Anna Frank in a miniseries about the Jewish family locked in an attic. In film, a small part in Stephen Frears' Cheri, with Michelle Pfeiffer, opened the door for more significant characters, like the one she played in Cemetery Junction, the second feature as director of Ricky Gervais.

The film that changed everything for her came in 2011, the Sundance Grand Prize winner Like Crazy. Jones impressed the audiences at the event in Utah playing a British student in love who is forcefully separated from the man of her dreams when she overstays her visa in the U.S., getting a special award for her acting from the festival. Acquired by Paramount and released domestically, Like Crazy gave her the Best Breakthrough Performer Award from the National Board of Review, among other accolades, but it was also the film that opened the doors of Hollywood. Even if her career continued mostly in Britain, where she starred as the lover of Ralph Fiennes' Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman and in the comedy Hysteria, with Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Jonathan Pryce, she was recently introduced to American audiences with the supporting role of Felicia Hardy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.