10 Actors to Watch 2011: Felicity Jones

Over the last two years, Felicity Jones has appeared in a handful of films, but they have all just taken a backseat to the recently released “Like Crazy.”

In January, the petite 27-year-old British actress won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her performance as Anna, a coed from the U.K. who overstays her student visa after she falls in love with an American student.

“Like Crazy,” directed by Drake Doremus, follows their relationship over seven years as the two lovers are beset by distance, bureaucracy and the temptations of more available lovers.

“She’s a writer and wants to be a journalist; he’s a designer,” Jones says. “I thought there was something very contemporary about the drama of how to be in a relationship when, at the same time, you want to be yourself and have your independence. It was exploring this modern dilemma.”

Paramount wasted little time buying distribution rights for $4 million and is looking for its relatively small investment to have some awards traction.

“It was such a tiny film,” Jones explains of the $250,000 film. “It was made for very little money so everything became very collaborative. Everyone was contributing to every element.”

For now, money is her least important reason to make a film.

“I’m very lucky,” she explains. “I don’t have any children or any responsibilities, so my main focus is to pick good roles in good scripts.”

Jones’ parents met when both worked for the Brit newspaper the Wolverhampton Express and Star. Her father, a journalist, met her mother, who worked in the ad department. They divorced, however, when she was 3 years old and Felicity and her brother lived with her mother.

Eight years later Jones began acting and she’s been at it ever since. PBS viewers would likely recognize her from “Northanger Abbey,” “Brideshead Revisited” and “The Diary of Anne Frank,” in which she played elder sister Margot.

Jones, who could have a flourishing bigscreen career ahead of her, says she would return to British TV drama for the right part.

“The main thing is to find interesting characters to play. It doesn’t matter what form that takes.”

Lucky break: “The biggest change has come from ‘Like Crazy.’ Before making that film I had no idea we could make a film the way we did. That was exactly the way I like to work and it was a huge turning point.”
Favorite film: “I love ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ and I love ‘Breaking the Waves,’ which was a huge influence for my character in ‘Like Crazy.'”
Career I’d like to emulate: “I’ve always liked Annette Bening and the way she chooses a blend of comedy and more serious pieces of drama. To have that mix would be something I’d love.”

10 ACTORS TO WATCH 2011:
Benedict Cumberbatch | Jean Dujardin | Luke Evans | Josh Hutcherson | Felicity Jones | Taylor Kitsch | Brit Marling | Elizabeth Olsen | Octavia Spencer | Shailene Woodley

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