After winning raves and an Oscar nomination for playing Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything, Felicity Jones went right back to work, and you’ll see the many disparate fruits of her labors this fall. First up, the 32-year-old plays an ill mother in the dark fantasy A Monster Calls, after which she’ll be seen solving ancient mysteries in Ron Howard’s Dan Brown thriller Inferno. Still, expect the biggest pop when she plays smuggler Jyn Erso in December’s Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One.
All three of your films this fall are very different from one another, and not a single one of them plops you in some Victorian costume drama, which is unusual for a young British actress.
It’s an absolute joy not to be in a corset! But particularly with Rogue One and with Inferno, the action element is different for me. So from the pain of the corset, I’ve now gone to the pain of three-hour workouts and having to learn how to fight.
Just as draining, I would assume, are the scenes that your ill-mother character shares with her young son in A Monster Calls.
The key to Lizzie is that she is collapsing inside. She’s absolutely devastated, but because she’s a mother and because she’s fiercely protective of her son and she doesn’t want to admit the truth of what’s happening to her. It’s too much for either of them to bear.
You star opposite Tom Hanks in Inferno. Were there any butterflies in your stomach?
There were definitely some pinch-me moments. With him and Ron, there was time for discussion and rehearsal, so by the time we came to set, it felt like we were very comfortable with each other. Saying that, though, it was still intensely nerve-racking the night before I started shooting. But, in the past, filming practically for free has been just as nerve-racking for me as filming on a huge budget.
What was it like to be No. 1 on the call sheet of a massive film like Rogue One?
I have to say that punctuality isn’t always my strong point, but when I was making that film, I made damn sure that I was on time every single day.
It’s been reported that Rogue One has gone in for extensive reshoots. True?
Well, you often come back on films. It’s just a way of building on what you already have and making the film the best it can be.
So the only downside to having to do reshoots is the resumption of those three-hour workouts?
The downside is that I have absolutely no life, and my friends think I disappeared off the face of the Earth, because I’m in a goddamn gym every morning.
*This article appears in the August 22, 2016 issue of New York Magazine.