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It's doubtful that "Like Crazy" will rack up $100 million at the box office or garner heaps of Oscar nominations, but you can't buy the type of buzz its young star Felicity Jones is generating for it.
The 27-year-old Brit from Birmingham plays Anna, an English coed at a California college who falls truly, madly, deeply in love with Anton Yelchin's Jacob, but when she tests Customs and overstays her visa, the two must suffer a continent apart.
Jones, who won an acting prize at this year's Sundance, is drawing crazy amounts of praise for her heavily improvised role in the intimate drama that's like "Before Sunrise" for the long-distance set.
We talked to the "It Girl" at this year's Toronto Film Festival about her newfound status and more.
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Did you and Anton spend a good amount of time getting to know each other before having to fall in love in front of the cameras?
Well, we didn't actually meet each other until we were both cast, which is quite unusual for a film all about a relationship. [Director Drake Doremus] just felt it would work, and luckily as soon as I met Anton, any fears that I'd had that it might be difficult, we quickly pushed aside and we just got on instantly and both had very similar views about the kind of film that we wanted to make, and that we were both going to jump headfirst into this experience.
Could you relate to Anna's struggle? Have you endured a long-distance relationship?
Well, I’ve found being an actor, it's obviously very difficult on relationships because you're constantly moving around, and in different countries at different times, so definitely I empathized with the problem of how to maintain a relationship when you're not in the same country. Definitely.
Do you consider yourself a romantic?
I think so. I think I definitely believe in love at first sight and the endurance of love but I think that's what I like about the film; being in a relationship is very different from falling in love, and you may fall in love with someone and have a wonderful time with them, but actually being with someone and loving someone for every intricacy of their personality is a much harder thing.
Are there other onscreen romances that you looked to for inspiration?
Well, gosh there are so many to choose from. But actually, do you know what was a major influence? "Breaking the Waves." Which may seem quite an extreme comparison, but I liked the level of obsession that Emily Watson's character had, and I wanted to bring some of that into Anna. She meets someone and fights for them and knows exactly that this person is the person that she wants to be with, and actually pushes much more for the relationship than Jacob in a way. It's quite nice to see a female character doing that.
Also Check Out: Next Factor: 'Like Crazy' Star Felicity Jones
Music plays a big role in this film, especially that of Paul Simon. What kind of stuff are you listening to these days?
I was just listening to a female artist called The Blow this morning. I always love listening to Bob Dylan. "Blood on the Tracks" is one of my favorite albums. I've been listening to a lot of Schubert and classical music because I've just been playing a pianist. Drake and I've made another film together and I play a pianist in that so I've been listening to a lot of classical music.
What is that film called?
The movie is called "Untitled Drake Doremus Project."
[Laughs] I think it's going to be a big hit in the theaters [laughs]. So it doesn't have a title yet.
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Crazy people say crazy things on message boards, like that "Like Crazy" is a pro-immigration propaganda film. Obviously that's a little extreme, but do you think the movie is saying anything about immigration?
I think not directly, but I think it's raising awareness that human emotions do not necessarily correspond with political notions, which I think is within the fabric of the film, definitely. And that's the strange thing about immigration, is you think, especially living in England or America, you think you're completely free to do whatever you want and you suddenly realize— if the government decides that you can't have a visa, you cannot travel to that country, and I think there's something very fundamental about that, that suddenly this freedom that you have seems to be a bit of an illusion. And I think the film definitely taps into that.
Time for some A or B questions. New York or L.A.?
L.A. in the winter, New York in the summer [laughs].
Mac or PC?
I have to say Mac.
Rock or rap?
What kind of rap?
I've just been listening to Kanye West's new album ["Watch the Throne," made in collaboration with Jay-Z], which I think is brilliant.
Beer or wine?
Or like your character in "Like Crazy," whiskey.
Whiskey and wine [laughs].
Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber?
"Twilight" or "Harry Potter"?
Oh I’ve got to say "Harry Potter." I've got to be loyal!
You don't share any scenes with her in the movie, but did you get to meet Jennifer Lawrence?
I did, yeah. We had a couple of days where we crossed over with each other, and I was really glad to meet her because I loved her performance in "Winter’s Bone."
And she has some big things coming up, namely "The Hunger Games." Are you a fan?
I don't know [the books]. But I know that she'll be excellent.
There are so many actors and actresses who’ve come from across the pond, as they say, and made it big. Are there certain actors you look at as inspirations in that regard?
Yeah, definitely. I think we're very lucky that there is a tradition of British actors working in America and being respected in America and I've always liked Kate Winslet and her work and respected her. I think British actors seem to be very much in demand at the moment which can only be a good thing.
How's your American accent?
It's good. In my next film, I'll be doing an American accent, so I'm looking forward to getting started on it.
How do you feel being called an "It Girl"?
I think at the time it's incredibly flattering, but obviously it's something that can't be sustained and hopefully people will realize you're here for a long time and not just a flash in the pan.