The 20th annual Philadelphia Film Festival recently opened with a screening of Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy, the story of two young lovers kept apart by international customs. Lead actress Felicity Jones, whose performance in the film won her the Best Actress award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, recently sat down with Cinedelphia to talk about working with Anton Yelchin, Doremus’ unique directing approach, and her upcoming project with Amy Ryan and Guy Pearce.
CINEDELPHIA: Drake and I spoke about the scriptment for the film, so I’m wondering how you went about reading it and what your first reaction was?
FELICITY JONES: Well, even before I opened it I thought it would be interesting just because it wasn’t a conventional script. And then after I’d read it I just thought it was incredibly honest and it was about a relationship but not the usual things you see in a relationship, it was about the ambiguity and the complications in being in a relationship. And I just liked it immediately and then I spoke to him on the phone and I told him I really wanted to do it.
C: I believe the time between your arrival in LA and when you started filming was only five days. What did you guys cram into those five days to prepare?
FJ: We spent every minute of those five days together, I think we had four hours off to sleep separately. And we ate a lot of In-N-Out Burger, and actually every night we would just order in fast food and that obviously helped! And we talked about every aspect of the characters and the script and we started improvising and going through the scenes. And the amazing thing is that we all were open enough with each other and we all liked each other enough that we could make something unusual.
C: How did you build chemistry with Anton in just five days?
FJ: We were lucky that we hit it off immediately. The three of us all have a very similar sense of humor and tequila helps with these situations! I think we were lucky that all three of us were willing to make this film in the right time in our lives. I think we all felt that we were making something unusual and we were attracted by the idea of it being very intimate. We didn’t think of anything else during that period, it was all-consuming. Afterwards, we realized it was a particularly special experience.
C: Did you all stay together throughout the shoot?
FJ: We didn’t stay together, I stayed in my character’s apartment so that the next day when I woke up I would feel like I was a part of that room and that was a part of me. And Drake very much supported those types of methods, the method approach to the part. And I think that really helped. So I wrote the letters and I tried to get into the skin of Anna as much as possible.
C: I know the set had a lot of improv, but were there ever moments when you wanted to ask to try something over?
FJ: Oh, all the time. It’s very structured in the scriptment, it reads like a short story. There’s very detailed analysis of the scenes and what’s gonna happen in the scene. We have very clear objectives and it’s very clear what are the things we have to say, but we say them without it being obvious that they have to be said.
C: What was it like being with the Americans to shoot in London?
FJ: All the interiors of London were shot in Los Angeles for budget, but the exteriors were all shot in London. We had four days in London and three weeks in LA. It was great because they had been teasing me a lot about being British and I got to bring them to London and tease them about being American.
FJ: Because of the method of making it, it felt very special. We didn’t really think about it coming out, but it felt like we cared, and every single person cared. It was a really small crew and people were prepared to give up their lives for the duration of the film.
C: Can you talk about the film’s reception at Sundance?
FJ: Especially for a film like this that was a tiny low budget film, it wasn’t a studio film, it was suddenly an out of body experience seeing it in front of a thousand people. And then at that point you realize the film belongs to other people, it belongs to everyone. I’ve seen it twice with an audience, the first time I was worried that everyone would hate Anna and she would seem spoiled and too self-indulgent, but Drake told me it would all be okay.
C: What was the experience like going back to work with Drake on his new project?
FJ: Completely different, a completely different scenario and characters and actors involved. The first week was realizing that actually, confronting that it would be something new. Like Crazy was a particular experience in it’s own way. But working with Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan, they’re just phenomenal actors. And Drake is very interested in subtext and those are two actors who communicate so much without talking.
Like Crazy opens this Friday at the Ritz East.