Felicity Jones: ‘I’m not shy of things that are political’
Felicity Jones loves playing powerful women who have made a big impact. She talks about her roller-coaster life, being a ‘constant news-checker’, and the fun of winding up her co-stars
The actor Felicity Jones, judged by dreary national statistics, is neither tall nor short: she’s a bang-on average 5ft 3in. Measured by the slightly looser gauge in her imagination, though, Jones is a colossus, a towering church-and-steeple of a human being. She’s got a basketballer’s reach and a bodyguard’s doorway-filling bulk. Even in flat-soled shoes, this 36-year-old can go around plucking stranded cats out of trees. “Without a doubt,” she says, “I’ve always felt bigger and taller than I am.”
In the past few years especially, the actor has made good use of this inside-outside differential. Whether it was playing the pioneering American judge, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in 2018’s On the Basis of Sex, or earning an Oscar nomination as Jane Hawking, Stephen’s formidable first wife, in 2015’s The Theory of Everything, Jones has had an instinctive sense for the pathos and humour in characters whose physical slightness tends to trick others into overlooking them. In a Star Wars movie, 2016’s Rogue One, she played a watchful and almost childlike guerrilla who ultimately tough-nutted past dozens of baddies to bring down an army. In her coming movie, The Aeronauts, she plays a 19th-century balloonist – a figure of fun to the scientists and flight enthusiasts of Victorian London, until she has to rescue one of them from death at 37,000ft.
Jones meets me for lunch in a pub in north London. She is early, and pumped for some roast chicken. When our meals arrive she sets about eating and talking at an equally brisk clip. Although this can lead to accidents (she points out a stain on her sweatshirt), Jones is a cool bean and has that performer’s knack, just about inexplicable to me, of chatting away fluently even after forking in a mouthful of drumstick meat.