Felicity Jones sits down with MiNDFOOD to talk her new movie ‘On The Basis of Sex’, perseverance, and fighting for your truth.
With the backdrop of the #metoo movement, Felicity Jones portrays the life of trailblazer, Supreme Court Judge, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in On The Basis of Sex. This dramatic biopic details the trials and tribulations of Ginsburg’s journey towards feminism and equality.
Given our cultural shift against the patriarchy with the #metoo movement, Jones, who has earned critical acclaim with movies such as Like Crazy and Inferno, stars alongside Armie Hammer in one of the most highly anticipated films of this year.
What did you learn through playing this role?
I learned that you have to fight. Ruth came from a very modest background. She had no family, there was no precedent for her and she did what she did through sheer hard work and she came up against obstacle after obstacle. It was a time where women were considered second class citizens. She realised that in order to change she had to get tough and she had to take on the American legal system.
How was your life growing up? Did you feel heard?
I think I’ve been very lucky in a sense that at home I’ve always felt heard. We would all eat together and there was a real sense of my opinion being valued at a very young age and so I went out into the world with absolute optimism.
How did that experience shape you?
I’ve been very careful about who I’ve worked with. I’ve worked with directors where I have felt listened to and I have felt that I’ve had a voice. Sometimes the most difficult thing I’ve found is going onto a set where there isn’t parity between men and women and that is the thing that I want to see change.
I want it to be absolutely 50/50 because it’s not a healthy working environment for men or women when it’s the majority of men in those situations.
What are your thoughts on Ruth?
Unfortunately she’s a rare powerful figure and someone that you can truly have respect for. She stuck with her beliefs through thick and thin. She’s not in the pursuit of fame, not in the pursuit of money, she truly cares about her ideals. It’s just so important to have someone like that at the moment so it was a role that was impossible not to do.
What was it like meeting her for the first time?
The first time that I met her we went to visit her in her chambers and she couldn’t take her eyes off Armie Hammer (laughs).
How is the balance of power roles balanced in your marriage?
I feel my relationship is very similar to Ruth and Marty. I’m absolutely hopeless in the kitchen. I’m not the best cook and my husband is excellent and he does the lion’s share of that. We have a very balanced modern household and I do think increasingly that is the case. I wouldn’t fall in love with him if that wasn’t the case.
Since your parents divorced when you were young, were they both involved in your life to the same extent?
They were both very much involved. They were very supportive of my education. They knew that in order to have power in the world you have to have economic freedom and economic freedom comes from education and so that was a huge priority. It was always, “What are you going to do?” It was never, “Who you going to marry?” They instilled in me and a very strong work ethic from a very young age.
Were you able to speak to Ruth about her personal experiences?
We spoke very intimately. It’s amazing how she has such passion for the law and she speaks with her heart and that’s how she’s been able to achieve what she’s achieved – it comes from her soul. It comes from a deep rooted humanity and a deep rooted care.
What did you want to do with her role?
She doesn’t conform to the status quo, she does things on her own terms so there’s a really fiery spirit so it felt important to see her getting angry. I wanted to see the moments when it doesn’t all go right because in life it doesn’t. Stuff happens and you get annoyed and it’s difficult and you lose hope in yourself. It was about showing all those difficult moments along the way so that she is this fully rounded human being. She didn’t come out of the womb like that. There’s a whole person who has developed over time so it was about showing that development.
How was your relationship with Anton Yelchin (whom she starred with in ‘Like Crazy’)?
Yeah he’s a very special person to me. It’s lovely coming back to L.A. because I am reminded of him and I remember going to the valley and visiting his parents and spending time with them. I am just sorry he’s not still here today. He was a very special and a unique person.
Are you a good caretaker when someone’s sick?
I learned everything from my grandmother and my mother and it’s usually that if you’re getting sick you need to rest. It’s quite sort of common sense just to take time, take care of yourself.
What do you do to take care of yourself?
My mother and grandmother always make hot milk with honey in it. I’ve grown up drinking. Yoga is really important and I think you do have to put effort into self-care. I love exercising, going out on runs, I love dancing. Going out with friends and going dancing that’s probably the best remedy, isn’t it?.
What are your expectations of Hollywood since #metoo?
#MeToo has been absolutely fantastic. It has shifted the industry in a wonderful, positive way. I think it’s opened up a dialogue. I’ve had a wonderful time meeting with other women from the industry and #Time’sUp Meetings sharing ideas and stories. I come out of those meetings feeling so much better than I did before because I feel we’re in a much better situation. The industry needs to be a modern industry and #MeToo has enabled it to start doing that.
Are you able to separate the character from yourself when you go home?
Yeah, definitely. I love going into that make-up bus, I love putting on those wigs, I love the process of the make-up, I love the costume so I become someone different than I am. The emotional root is there, but I love the transformation. That’s what makes it creative, that’s what makes it an artistic endeavour.
Could you compare the position of women in the 19th century?
Well, it was rubbish. It was awful (laughs). Just from wearing a corset for 15 hours a day, it was just horrific. It’s incomparable how much better it is from how it was then, but increasingly the fight still continues. Men and women, we have to fight together and that is the key – we are all in this together.
Was your mother a feminist in the 70’s?
My entire family are feminists.
Would you have made a good lawyer?
I always wanted to be a lawyer so I got to play one which is pretty close to getting to be one – but without the hard bit (laughs).