LONDON — Funny voices are a good thing in the world of film. And the ability to deliver them is even better. Take British actor Toby Jones, for example. An award-winning stage actor and experienced film and television character actor, Jones stars in “Infamous,” Douglas McGrath’s vision of writer Truman Capote’s life, loves and meetings with murderers. Jones has a lead role on celluloid for the first time after perfecting Capote’s legendary and idiosyncratic vocal delivery. “It took me an hour and half each morning before shooting scenes to warm up Truman’s voice,” Jones says. “It’s actually a very physical place where his voice comes from.”
His delivery and leading role opposite Sandra Bullock in the film — which unspooled at the Venice Film Festival at the end of August to international critical acclaim and will be shown during the London Film Festival — is attracting plaudits across the globe and has put Jones on an ever-lengthening Hollywood wish list. He now has U.S. representation in the form of Billy Lazarus at UTA to add to his long-standing relationship with British agency ARG’s Sue Latimer.
Jones’ performance is certainly attracting positive notices, and it is being whispered in the corridors of power that Jones’ turn could attract an Oscar campaign from Warner Independent Pictures in spite of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Academy Award-winning turn in last year’s “Capote.” Should Oscar fever begin around the domestic release of “Infamous” next month, Jones will be telling his agents to be wary of scheduling. He is currently filming the role of Gerard Dou in Peter Greenaway’s “Nightwatching,” which takes a look at the life, loves and lifestyle of Dutch master painter Rembrandt.
Jones will next be seen in John Curran’s “The Painted Veil,” alongside Naomi Watts and Edward Norton. He has also just shot a short film for his brother and director Rupert Jones and his filmmaking partner Neil Hunter titled “The Sickie,” with a view to taking the lead in the filmmaking duo’s project “Cossacks.” Jones says making the short film “was a good screen test” for “Cossacks,” a movie about a guy who can’t get a girlfriend.
“My career is very chaotic. What I love is the diversity of it all,” Jones says. His myriad previous roles on film include playing Dobby the House Elf in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” which followed a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for best actor in a supporting role in 2001 for his performance in the smash hit comedy “The Play What I Wrote.” It ended up on Broadway with Jones.
“You’ve got to be a little crazy to do that play,” Jones says, not in a funny voice.