Felicity Jones Interview
Felicity Jones Interview
Felicity Jones, appearing with Guy Pearce in tense relationship drama Breathe In, tells View about working with great actors and a director who she trusts completely, her preparation of her character in the film, her aims and next steps in her career, and her upcoming role in action sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
How did the project come about, and how did you get involved?

Felicity Jones

Drake [Doremus, director] and I met on Like Crazy, a film we made in 2011. And then quite quickly after we finished that, Drake had this idea that was possessing him, and he said, ‘Would you like to do it’, and I said, ‘I’d love to read the script’, though it was a treatment, because we improvised the dialogue. He sent me the treatment and I really was intrigued by it, and read it very quickly in one sitting and decided that I wanted to do it. I loved working with him before, I feel like we both work well together, and I love how collaborative it is. It felt like the right thing to come together again.
Do you have plans to work with him again?

Felicity Jones

Yeah, I’d love to, definitely. I think it has to be the right time, and the right project, but without a doubt. We’re the same age, we’re both 29, and we’re still working so many things out. In ten years he’s going to be even more incredible than he is now. It’d be great to re-collaborate, definitely.
I wondered if you had a sense of famous actor-director collaborations, and you could potentially build something like that.

Felicity Jones

I’d love to. As we both change, and find different ways of working, absolutely. I think it would be great to do something completely different with him; that would be wonderful.
What kind of preparation did you do, and is that really you playing the piano?

Felicity Jones

I worked really closely with a concert pianist, so it’s a lot of her skill and a little bit of my skill. But she was an absolute inspiration for the part, and she’s been a pianist since she was three. I spent a lot of time with her going to concerts, and researching, and understanding the mindset of a pianist. That’s what felt really important in developing a backstory for Sophie. So I knew what school she went to, and how many brothers and sisters she has, and all those kinds of things are really important for going on set and feeling like her; preparation is inspiration. You can just let go when you’re on set, and you’ve done all your homework.
Was there a particular reason that piece was chosen?

Felicity Jones

Both [Aleksandra Sasha Kozlov, piano coach] and I chose that, and we were trying to find a piece that was complicated enough that would be impressive to a classroom, but also meant something to Sophie. That piece, I say it in the film, is a warm up piece. There’s something about it, she plays something that’s about showing off. But she’s so good that she can do it so well. It was important that it wasn’t too much of a clichéd piece that she chooses, we wanted to make sure that it showed this woman has been playing the piano for many years, and she knows her music.
Is there some anger in there as well?

Felicity Jones

I felt like she feels him asking her to play the piano - it annoys her, there’s a power struggle going on between them, and she doesn’t want to have to do that. She’s trying to resist her piano playing, because it’s so bound with her past. In some ways she’s come to try and escape who she was, and work out who she is. Playing the piano is a difficult thing for her, it’s bound up with a lot of emotional complications. So when she plays, that anger and upset comes out.
What was it like working with Guy Pearce?

Felicity Jones

He’s tremendous. He completely immerses himself in the role, and sometimes you’re not sure where it ends - he becomes that role for the whole time you're shooting. He’s not scared to completely commit to what he’s doing, but at the same time it’s not about ego. It’s completely meant. He’s very down to earth about his job, and he’s worked with incredible directors. He’s an internationally renowned actor, but you don’t feel that when you meet him, he’s just very straightforward, and open, and wants to work honestly.
And Amy Ryan?

Felicity Jones

Amy’s very similar, they actually have similar ways of working. They are totally obsessed with the work, and that’s the thing that drives them. It’s not about ego, or fame, or any of those other things.
How much of a rehearsal period did you get, both with you and Drake, but with you and Guy in particular, working on their relationship?

Felicity Jones

We spent a week together before we started shooting. We did a run through of most of the scenes, and it was more about getting to know each other and feeling comfortable. The whole way of working on a film like this is not to feel self-conscious. Drake does everything to make the sets feel as relaxed an environment as possible. So there’s not many people around, there aren’t lots of hair and makeup checks. When we were on set at the house, it felt like it was our house. You spend time in the kitchen, we even had a meal there the week before we started shooting, so that it would feel like we were all living in that house.
You could easily have made that film and made it a sexual relationship, and I liked the fact that it wasn’t a sexual attraction. At least, the relationship they have isn’t based on sex, it’s based on something stronger. What elements of the script stood out for you?

Felicity Jones

I liked playing a disillusioned young female. Playing someone who’s very angry. She’s young, but she’s not patronised by being innocent. I feel like there’s an experience to her, there’s a worldliness to her even at that age, and that’s what I liked about it. I felt I hadn’t done something quite like this before, this feels new to me, like it’s a challenge in some way.
I also like the relationship you have with Mackenzie Davis, I like what Drake did with her character. She’s presented as this spoiled teenager, when actually she’s more messed up than anybody. The reveal of that was very well done.

Felicity Jones

Exactly. The film is very much about appearances being deceptive, especially the family. They seem like this perfect family, and everything’s okay, but underneath there’s all sorts of problems and issues. Even down to the individual level, a lot of people are covering up, there’s a level of dissatisfaction for all of them.
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Content updated: 24/08/2019 00:53

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