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With vintage beauty and a sweet, innocent demeanor, rising British starlet Felicity Jones started amassing acting credentials overseas before she burst onto the Hollywood scene. She first became well known to young television audiences in England in the late 1990s as the bully, Ethel Hallow, on the series "The Worst Witch" (BBC, 1998-2001) and then in her reprised role on the spin-off, "Weirdsister College" (ITV1, 2001-02). Jones was also recognized as the longtime voice of Emma Grundy on the BBC Radio series, "The Archers" (1951- ). Gaining momentum in a series of films, television shows and stage performances, the English rose transitioned from the children's market and slipped gracefully into teen notoriety, playing adolescent roles well into her twenties. In 2007, she scored the lead in ITV's "Northanger Abbey" as a 17-year old with classic appeal, and the following year she played the alluring Robina Redmond on the iconic television hit series, "Doctor Who," (BBC, 2005- ). After the role of Margot Frank in the television miniseries, "The Diary of Anne Frank" (2009), her first major role arrived when she co-starred alongside British comedy genius Ricky Gervais in 1970s-set feature, "Cemetery Junction" (2010). And although Felicity Jones had been a rising star for some years, her road to stardom reached new heights with her performance as Anna in the bittersweet romance, "Like Crazy" (2011), propelling the talented British starlet to greater heights with starring roles in films such as "The Theory of Everything" (2014) and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (2016).
Born on Jan. 19,1984 in Birmingham, England, Felicity Jones began acting in workshops at the age of 11 with the encouragement of her father and mother. At the age of 12 in 1996, the angelic-looking Jones had already scored a starring role as Alice in Tetra Films' charming family adventure, "The Treasure Seekers," a television movie based on a novel by one of England's most beloved authors, Edith Nesbit. Jones attended Kings Norton Girls' School in a suburb of Birmingham, then King Edward VI Handsworth School. After appearing in numerous episodes of "The Worst Witch" throughout 1998 -99, her longest-running role as a performer started in 1999 as wild-child Emma's voice on the "The Archers," Britain's iconic soap opera. At 17, Jones played Ethel Hallow again in "Weirdsister College" before appearing on the BBC series, "Servants" (2003) as the character Grace May. During this time, she was also the voice of Fanny on BBC Radio 4's "Mansfield Park" (2003), adapted from the novel by Jane Austen, and she then was Sosia in another BBC Radio 4 presentation, "Falco: The Silver Pigs," (2004) a detective story set in ancient Rome based on the novel by Lindsey Davis. Jones went on to study English at Wadham College in Oxford, a period during which she continued acting in student plays such as one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, "The Comedy of Errors," for the Oxford University Dramatic Society's summer tour to Japan in 2005. She graduated from college in 2006.
Having paid her dues in children's television and radio, she easily adapted to teenage characterizations. She took on the leading role as 17-year-old Catherine Morland in another take on a Jane Austen book, this time in "Northanger Abbey" (2007). Shortly after its airing, she made her stage debut at the Royal Court Theatre as Mia in Polly Stenham's "That Face" in April of that same year. In June, she started appearing as the independent Zoe Brogan in eight episodes of Showtime's "Meadowlands" (2007), originally airing as "Cape Wrath" on the U.K. on Channel 4 Television.
In 2008, Jones had several small roles on the big screen. As Cordelia Flyte, she played in the poignant story of forbidden love set in pre-WWII England in "Brideshead Revisited," and as a young Ruth in "Flashbacks of a Fool." She decided to expand her stage work and accepted a role for a few months during that summer in a revival of Enid Bagnold's "The Chalk Garden" at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London, for which she won Best Newcomer Award at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. It was in 2009 that she ended her radio role on "The Archers" after 10 years, opting instead for more exposure on the small and silver screens, as well as in stage performances. In the comedy romance "Chéri" (2009) starring Michelle Pfeiffer and co-starring Kathy Bates, she played the part of Edmee. Shortly afterwards, she performed in Anthony Minghella's "Hang Up" at the High Tide Festival, and then appeared in five episodes of the television miniseries "The Diary of Anne Frank." She started the second decade of the 2000s in back-to-back coming-of age dramas: In "Soulboy" about the 1970s underground music scene, she played Mandy Hodgeson, and then gained further notoriety as Julie in "Cemetery Junction," a dramedy from the minds of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. In another Shakespeare adaptation that year, Jones starred as Miranda in "The Tempest II," screenplay writer Julie Taymor's version with the main character being female instead of male.
Jones hit the ground running in 2011. An extremely busy year for the blossoming star, she performed in a rapid-fire succession of roles in different venues. She won acclaim on stage in London for her role in "Luise Miller," a new translation of Schiller's "Kabale und Liebe" by Mike Poulton in June and July, and she was a hit in the romantic comedy "Chalet Girl." Following those performances, she appeared as one of the lead characters, Emily Dalrymple, in another romantic comedy; this one about the invention of the vibrator, in "Hysteria," co-starring Maggie Gyllenhaal. Jones next starred alongside Jessica Brown Findlay in the drama, "Albatross." Critics claimed the duo carried the weight of the film as believable opposites - Jones as an angelic, bookish teenager and Findlay as her devilish antagonist. And because of her retro allure, Jones was also announced as the new face of British fashion label, Burberry, for its autumn/winter 2011 campaign.
But it was Jones' role as Anna in "Like Crazy" opposite co-star Anton Yelchin, which garnered glowing reviews. The endearing love story about college students, one British and the other American, who get separated when she is banned from the U.S. for overstaying her visa, was released to universal acclaim. The largely unknown filmmaker, director and co-writer Drake Doremus' account was an instant hit at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize, and Jones was nominated for the Breakthrough Actor Gotham Independent Film Award. Doremus built the tender romance on the ordinary things in relationships that become lasting memories for couples, such as meaningful glances, stolen smiles and special selections of music. After starring in the romantic comedy-drama "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding" (2012) and the romantic drama "Breathe In" (2013), Jones scored her American breakthrough with a key supporting role in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (2014) and her critically acclaimed turn as Jane Hawking in "The Theory of Everything" (2014). After co-starring with Jonah Hill in the thriller "True Story" (2015), Jones signed on for a leading role in the first stand-alone film in the "Star Wars" saga, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (2016).
By Ela Lindsay
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