8:56am PT by Scott Feinberg
Felicity Jones on her Breakthrough Performance in 'Like Crazy' (Video)
One of the great pleasures of 2011, for me, has been to watch the actress Felicity Jones evolve from a virtual unknown into someone who is now on the brink of full-fledged stardom, and to get to know her a little along the way.
It all started in January, when Drake Doremus's Like Crazy premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The micro-budget indie, a drama about a young couple who struggle to stay together after the immigration system forces them apart, features Jones -- opposite Anton Yelchin -- in her first starring role, played like gangbusters in Park City. By the end of the festival, a studio bidding war for its U.S. distribution rights had been won by mighty Paramount Pictures; the film won the Grand Jury Prize; and Jones was awarded a special jury prize for her outstanding performance. Talk about a fairy-tale ending... or, more aptly, beginning.
Now, Paramount is slowly but surely rolling out the film across the country, with the hope that those who see it early will circulate positive word-of-mouth and in so doing stir up excitement for it in the cities in which it has yet to open. One thing that everyone who sees the film leaves it talking about is Jones, who exudes such ethereal beauty and effortless charm in her performance -- which Paramount hopes will be one of the five from this year's crowded best actress field to score a nod -- that she seems destined to follow in the footsteps of Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan and become the latest British ingenue to conquer Hollywood.
I first met Jones on Monday, October 17. She had just gotten off of a flight from London to New York, been hustled over to a reception with Academy members following a screening of Like Crazy, and was then supposed to sit down with me for an interview. After we were introduced in the midst of this craziness, and I was informed that it was also her birthday, I suggested that we postpone the interview until the next day so that she might actually have a chance to enjoy herself a little. When we met up at her hotel the following morning to tape the interview that appears at the top of this post, I was struck less by her striking beauty (I'd gauged that from the film and the night before) than by her intelligence (she's an Oxford grad) and humility (she was very nervous and excited for the New York premiere that night). Those impressions were only reinforced upon subsequent interactions at the aforementioned premiere, its after-party, and a week later in the green room at the Hollywood Film Awards, where she was honored as one of the year's breakthrough actors.
I would bet a lot that anyone who checks out this little movie and this interview will be as smitten with her as I am. Before long, I suspect, everyone will be.