'Theory of Everything' Star Felicity Jones on the Woman Behind Stephen Hawking
It is often the case that when presenting an extraordinary story of an iconic man, the women in his life are overlooked. This is not the case with 2014's The Theory of Everything, chronicling the lives of Stephen Hawking and his first wife, Jane Wilde. Based off the book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen , Wilde's biographical vantage point acts as the basis for Anthony McCarten's screenplay. We see Jane (Felicity Jones) and Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) in all of their complexities, struggles, and imperfections.
Felicity Jones takes on the role of Jane with exceptional vigor. She spoke about her instant attachment to the role, and why she felt Jane was an exceptional female protagonist. "I loved that as the story unfolded it got more complex. There was this phenomenal female character who had inner strength and determination and willfulness," she said. "There was a vulnerability to her, and an enormous amount of love and care at the same time. It was exploring her sexual identity as well — Both her and Stephen's. The film is about two very passionate people who aren't saints, who are both trying to have a relationship inside those circumstances."
And just like Eddie Redmayne was apprehensive to meet Stephen Hawking, Jones felt a great deal of pressure meeting Jane.
"I was nervous. She is formidable," said Jones. "But what I found in meeting Jane is there's something like the Army General in her. [The role] felt like a woman's call to arms. It's like she's going into battle and the battle is keeping Stephen alive."
There is an exceptional scene in the film in which Jones' Jane attempts to convince Hawking's father she is up for the challenge of a life with an ALS-stricken person. Jones', a less-than-threatening looking individual, explains to Stephen's father that she is stronger than she appears. Jones gathered the strength to film this scene after meeting with the real Jane Wilde.
"What I felt when I met Jane, is that she manages to command a room but with a very light touch," she said. "It was taking those elements, her voice, the way she moves, the way she holds herself. It's a full on attack on a character."
But this wasn't the first time Jones' portrayed the second-half of an exceptional man. In The Invisible Woman, Jones portrays Nelly, the secret lover of Charles Dickens.
"These women don't necessarily have the celebrated genius, but what I liked about them is they are both still incredible people and their power is shown in a different way. I am quite interested in these women's story in how they mananged to have power in times when they weren't extensively allowed to have power," she said of the two characters. "With Jane, being in the '50s and '60s and wanting to be taken seriously as an academic. How does she navigate her own identity whilst at the same time being a mother and a wife and a carer."
The Theory of Everything hits theatres November 7.