Felicity Jones is, not unlike real-life notorious figure she played in “On the Basis of Sex,” a woman of her convictions.
On this day, the stakes are decidedly lower than the ones faced by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the film, but Jones is tough in her stance: “The Family Stone” is, she argues, a feel-good movie.
“She works out who she is in the end,” she says of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character.
Still, how can a film so depressing — cancer, Christmas, family — be considered feel-good?
“It’s also about the family…of course, part of life is going through loss and it’s how you recover from that together.”
In her childhood, Jones did not have an easy time finding her voice. In fact, her shyness is what prompted her parents to enroll her in a free drama group for kids in her native Birmingham, England around the age of 10.
Jones had always loved movies, a byproduct of her mother’s own passion for cinema. There was a movie theater about 45 minutes away from their home that she and her family would frequent.
Growing up, Jones remembers particularly loving “The Addams Family” remake and idolizing the dark, oddball daughter, Wednesday, played by Christina Ricci. She was drawn to her alternative, anti-heroine ways.
Ultimately, the shy Jones found her confidence playing someone else in weekly plays with her youth class. Theater ended up being Jones’s gateway to an acting career during which the 35-year-old has to date amassed credits in an admirably wide spectrum of films — from those with mass-market appeal (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) to awards season fare (“The Theory of Everything,” for which she earned an Oscar nomination.)
This year, the biopic “On the Basis of Sex” did not earn the accolades some thought it would, especially considering the relevant figure at its center. Of course, films with wholesome, empowering messages typically have rough road to the Oscars, needed as they may be in times of division.
Nonetheless Jones’s performance stands as a singular example of her masterful ability to embody an iconic feminist figure and get to the heart of the human often forgotten at the mention of “RBG.”
“It was kind of an interesting process playing someone that you deeply admire, but absolutely, part of my job is to find the humanity in that person,” she says of Ginsburg.
Preparing for the role, Jones got a chance to spend quality time with the seemingly tireless Supreme Court justice and even visit her home. It was there, Jones says, that she saw first-hand Ginsburg’s level of commitment.
“When we went to her apartment and she showed me her desk, which is about half a meter from her bed,” Jones recalls. “In the middle of the night, if she suddenly gets an idea, she goes and writes it down. [She’s] someone who’s really devoted themselves to their country and has done that with all her principles intact.”
And principles are, of course, everything — whether you’re writing a decision for the Supreme Court or stanning for “The Family Stone.”