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Felicity Jones: Thanking Her Lucky Stars

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Oscar-nominee Felicity Jones chats to us about Star Wars, Tom Hanks, and following your destiny.

The gorgeous and always gracious Oscar-nominee Felicity Jones talks Tom Hanks, Star Wars and reveals why her enormous success is probably all just down to luck.

“It went by in this very bright, blinding blur! It was like nothing else I’ve experienced in my life ever - that amount of interviews and red carpets. Was that really me there? Was it actually a dream?” wonders a wide-eyed Felicity Jones on her night at the Oscars.

Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her stunning portrayal of Jane Hawking Wilde - the devoted wife of Stephen Hawking - in The Theory of Everything, Jones’ star has since been on an unstoppable climb, which this year will be cemented by a slew of blockbuster films.

Originally hailing from Bournville (the model village outside Birmingham that was built for workers of the Cadbury’s chocolate company), Jones established herself as an actor in London and has spent much of her adult life living in Bethnal Green. Her love affair with the capital began when, aged just 13, she was filming ITV’s The Worst Witch at Twickenham Studios and recalls with glee the moment she and her two co-stars eluded their chaperones to make a bid for freedom. “We just decided to make a run for it!” she grins. “We were practically sprinting through this long grass in Richmond Park and all we could hear behind us was ‘come back, come back!’”

It may sound like Jones’ life is idyllic and that isn’t far from the truth: born to a journalist father and a mother who worked in marketing, Jones attended Kings Norton Girls’ School and went on to read English at the illustrious Wadham College in Oxford. But her parents divorced when she was only three and she associates the experience with giving her the drive to act.

“You never know what is going to happen in life,” she says. “So early on I decided I would be independent and have the means to support myself.” She proved to get a hold on this very quickly; dotted among her studies were stints playing Ethel Hallow in The Worst Witch, its follow-up Weird Sister College and a long-running role on BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers.

Turning 33 this year, Jones has been acting professionally (and consistently) for 20 years and has managed to maintain an air of mystery and grace that is unusual for young stars. With her porcelain skin and rosebud lips, she has understandably oft been cast as the quintessential English heroine, such as in period drama Northanger Abbey or the Sundance indie hit Like Crazy, but underneath her beauty there is a steeliness that sets her apart and will doubtless be unleashed when she plays fearless fugitive Jyn Erso in the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The first stand-alone film in the Star Wars Anthology series, Rogue One sets up the action for the epic original saga, with Jones’ character joining forces with Captain Cassion Andors (Diego Luna) in a quest to steal the Death Star plans.

“I remember going to see the films with that classic intro with my cousins and brother and when I think about that, now it just seems so daunting but exhilarating at the same time,” reveals the actress. At five-foot-three, Jones is certainly not your average all-action hero, but what sets Jyn Erso apart is her courage in the face of her underdog status. Typically, very little else is known about the hugely hyped spin-off, which is out in December, and Jones is not about to give anything away, squealing, “Unfortunately, I can’t say any more!”

Straight off the back of the film that’s likely to send her career into space, Jones slips seamlessly into another revered franchise opposite Tom Hanks in Inferno, the next instalment in the lucrative Robert Langdon series following The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. “I’m a big fan of [author] Dan Brown’s work, like the millions and billions around the world and now getting the opportunity to participate in the pure adventure of inhabiting his world, his grasp on such rich historical tapestry, is nothing I’ve ever been involved with before and so refreshing as a result,” she gushes.

The film is set in Florence and Jones plays a brilliant doctor who must help famed Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon restore his memory and help prevent a devastating global pandemic.

So how did she find working with a Hollywood legend like Hanks? “Tom is wonderful. C’mon, it’s Tom Hanks,” she says with a chuckle. “He brings such humanity not only to his work, but to everyone he’s working with and that’s a real special quality to have. He knows the name of every single person on set and says hello to each one in the morning, and there’s a real sincerity there. And that’s rare, that’s the mark of a wonderful person, who uses this commanding presence and warmth to welcome.”

Owing to her runaway success, Jones is currently Stateside working seemingly on blockbuster after blockbuster, but it doesn’t seem as if a permanent move to America is on the cards. Like a lot of grass roots actors, she has a fascination with the stage - in 2011 she wowed critics playing mentally unstable pyromaniac Laurel in Chalk Garden at the Donmar Warehouse - and has often spoken with a deeply romantic fascination of London and its many theatres. “After shows in the West End, I love to visit The French House in Soho. It’s always bustling and packed with people, and you have to push your way through to reach the bar; it makes me feel like an actress from the forties,” she says wistfully.

Having grafted for almost two decades at her craft, no one could deny Jones her enormous success; in fact, if anything it feels like she ought to be more of a household name by now, regardless of a certain sci-fi spot. But the starlet insists that no one is ‘due’ success and that in fact, it may all just be down to destiny.

“I think fate and timing and luck and all those uncontrollable elements have so much to do with what is deemed as success, in any industry, not just acting," she sagely explains. “Which is why you count your lucky stars for opportunities that come your way!”

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