Jones on playing Jane, wife of Hawking
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[November 06, 2014]
By Mary Milliken
(Reuters) - Eddie Redmayne
may be up for a best actor Oscar for his turn as British
astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of
Everything," but he insists the "biggest privilege" of
the film for him was working with co-star Felicity
Jones plays Jane Hawking, the scientist's sweetheart from
university days who agrees to marry him even though he is
diagnosed with motor neuron disease and given two years to live.
The film, based on Jane's memoir, opens this weekend in select
"She's a charismatic, brilliant match and that is what makes
their relationship so great," said Redmayne of Jane. "And Felic
just brought all the subtlety and dignity and clarity to that."
Jones' performance has earned positive reviews and spurred talk
of a best-actress Oscar nomination. The 31-year-old English
actress spoke to Reuters about meeting Jane Hawking, the
attachment to the characters and the emotional milestone.
Q: Your director, James Marsh, says you and your
character had to be the equal to Eddie and Stephen. How did you
A: It all started with Jane. I met her early on in the
process and I liked her instantly. She had such a warmth, such
an interesting character, someone who just had layers and layers
of strength and determination. So there was a lot for me as an
actor to play.
Q: The moviegoing public knows Stephen, but Jane is the
unknown element of the story. How important was it for you to
emulate her physical appearance and voice?
A: Oh, that was vital. I wanted to be true to who Jane
was and her essence. And for the story to make sense, being
close to the truth is always the best thing to do. There was an
eccentricity about her that I really liked. She does have this
very high-pitched voice and I worked with a dialect coach and
she called it an "above the breast voice" because (Jones raises
her pitch) everything is high in the head and it comes out here.
She had quite a '50s intonation. So it was just trying to
capture who Jane was as truthfully as possible.
Q: How difficult was filming the "break-up" scene between
Jane and Stephen?
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A: That was a very heavy day. It was toward the end of
the shoot and in some ways for us as actors it was a traumatic
day. We had got so used to these people, we had inhabited them
for so long that to know that not only were we finishing
filming, but also we were showing the moment when this
incredibly complicated, complex union between two people was
disintegrating. It was emotional both for us as actors and for
Q: You subtly age over time and at the end even have a
crepey neck. What was the process?
A: It was important to show how Jane did shift and
obviously you do change so much over 25 years.
There is this substance called Stipple and you just put it around
your eyes and certain areas. It is like a glue and you scrunch up
the area and it holds the lines in it. And then you have extra
padding as the body changes as you get older. We did try
prosthetics, but it didn't quite work. I feel like with aging, you
can bring a lot as the actor through your physicality and how that
changes as you get older.
Q: Do you think this role is a career milestone for you, a
before and after moment?
A: I don't know now. Maybe I need a bit of time to have
perspective on it. It feels like a very important film in that it
was a special film, and we care so intensely about these people. It
didn't feel like we were just going to work and phoning it in. It
took over our lives for that time. In terms of just an emotional
experience as an actor, then it definitely feels like a milestone.
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Steve Orlofsky)
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