- Felicity Jones talked to Business Insider about making her latest movie, “The Aeronauts.”
- Jones discussed wanting to make another action movie after doing “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
- The actress also detailed the crash landing she experienced with costar Eddie Redmayne in the balloon on the first day of shooting.
- Jones said she would love to play her “Rogue One” character Jyn Erso again.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Whether it’s a rebellious outsider like Jyn Erso in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” or a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the cusp of greatness in “On the Basis of Sex,” Felicity Jones has recently shown us in her choices of roles that she enjoys playing the hero.
It’s a fascinating turn in an impressive career that has included an Oscar nomination for her work in 2014’s “The Theory of Everything.” And in her most recent movie, “The Aeronauts” (in theaters Friday and on Amazon Prime beginning December 20), in which she plays a death-defying balloon pilot named Amelia Wren, Jones has once more shown that she has a knack to move us with her dramatic chops in a sensational setting.
Starring with her is “Theory of Everything” costar Eddie Redmayne, who plays scientist James Glaisher. The duo embark on a thrilling gas balloon journey (based on a historic 1862 balloon ride that broke the flight altitude record) into the sky that’s filled with perilous weather and a thrilling moment when Jones’ character must climb to the top of the balloon to save their lives.
But the thrills were not only on the screen.
As Jones told Business Insider in an interview this week sitting in a hotel room in Lower Manhattan, she and Redmayne had their own close call while filming in the balloon. (Read the full story of the crash on Business Insider Prime.) She also touched on the motivation for the recent roles she’s played and her interest in returning to the “Star Wars” galaxy.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jason Guerrasio: For a role like this, what is your starting point? I know your character is fictional but based on Sophie Blanchard, who was a real aeronaut. Is that the start?
Felicity Jones: It was important in this film that we brought to light these amazing female aeronauts. It was a responsibility almost. Sophie Blanchard was someone I really researched quite deeply in order to understand Amelia Wren. She was an 18th century aeronaut, but she was also very much an entertainer. She used to set off fire works from the balloon.
Guerrasio: Which I believe was her fate, if I’m not mistaken.
Jones: Yes. It was. But I read this book on her that was a great resource to understand the obsession and the passion that this woman had for ballooning.
Guerrasio: And what also grabbed you about the role was that this movie was large in scale, like “Rogue One,” and you were looking for something similar, right?
Jones: Yeah. It was jumping back into doing an action film. That’s what was so enticing about it. And that last sequence that Amelia has, I just thought, “Darn, I want to do that.” It was exciting, the proposition of doing an action film again.
Guerrasio: And with this one you and Eddie were really up in a balloon. Like that shot of you sitting on the hoop, that’s not computer generated, right?
Guerrasio: How high were you guys?
Jones: I think we went about 3,000 feet. It was for that opening sequence when the balloon takes off. It was quite an extraordinary feeling to be doing any movement in a balloon at that height. It was pretty daunting but it was a real adrenaline rush.
Guerrasio: Is that something where you do one take and then you say, “That’s enough”?
Jones: We did it up there a few times while a helicopter was going past shooting it. Once you’re up there you’re kind of up there, so it was until we got the shot.
Guerrasio: And the producers told me that on that trip you and Eddie had a crash landing.
Jones: Yeah, we did. That was the first day of shooting. [Laughs.]
Jones: Yeah. It was a bit of a hairy landing. It’s very peaceful when you’re up in the air but the landings can be your punishment for such a lovely time floating. We hit these trees and came down at this velocity towards the ground and Eddie and I were holding hands thinking this could be it and we were thrown backwards. It was a bit of a bumpy ride that first day.
Guerrasio: Any injuries?
Jones: Luckily, we were fine. We were okay. But the crack of the basket made me think, “How’s my back?” We were a little shaken up but other than that we were fine.
Guerrasio: And then it was like, “You got your shots, put us back in the soundstage.”
Jones: Yeah, exactly. “We got it, guys.”
Guerrasio: So later in the movie when your characters go through a harrowing experience, you and Eddie must have used what happened in real life.
Jones: Absolutely. It was food for us. We knew exactly how to react. We did it the method way.
Guerrasio: Was it fun to explore a character who has this anxiety to go up in the air but still can’t help herself to do it?
Jones: It’s like that movie “Free Solo,” people who like living very much on the edge. I think it’s incredibly exciting but also there’s a lot of fear. The pleasure is conquering that fear.
Guerrasio: The hardest thing for them is being on the ground.
Jones: Exactly. I think on the ground is too mundane. I think there’s something about being in the face of death that you can’t think about anything else and for those kinds of people, strangely, it’s quite relaxing.
Guerrasio: I feel since “Rogue One” you have taken these hero roles, whether it’s this or Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Was that a conscious decision?
Jones: That’s a lovely way of looking at it. I like that they are all superheroes in their own ways.
Guerrasio: Very much so.
Jones: Justice Ginsberg, particularly. But it’s not a conscious thing. I think I just have a strong sense when I read something and I identify with the character and I believe their motives and the trajectory throughout the screenplay. I often find myself in situations where I ask, “Why am I doing this?” I do jump before I think sometimes, and I guess I like characters who are slightly living just a little on the edge.
Guerrasio: It’s fun to watch. Is what you’re talking about similar to the character you are filming right now for the George Clooney-directed movie, “Good Morning, Midnight”?
Jones: I think it’s different in terms of tone. I guess we’ll see.
Guerrasio: And will there by more Jyn in your life, do you think?
Jones: Gin and tonics?
Guerrasio: No, though I would love one.
Guerrasio: But I mean Jyn with a “J.”
Jones: I would love to. She’s a tremendous character to play. I adored making the film. Maybe she can be reincarnated.
Guerrasio: I feel with “Star Wars” anything can happen. I have to say that movie is aging very well.
Jones: Oh fantastic. I feel where it’s placed in the story, before “A New Hope,” it just fits so well.
To read more about “The Aeronauts,” see these stories on Business Insider Prime: