Ready to get the inside scoop on the Rogue One Character Jyn? Read on for an exclusive interview with Felicity Jones.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters December 16!
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY follows a group of unlikely heroes in a time of conflict who band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.
For our Rogue One press event, we had a full day of interviews. Make sure to come back to the blog daily to see full event coverage.
There are several new characters in the Star Wars franchise. Today we’re talking about Rogue One character Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones. You might recognize Felicity for her most recent performance as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything.
Felicity Jones Discusses Rogue One Character Jyn
Felicity was absolutely wonderful to talk to. I love how she has embraced her Rogue One character Jyn. You’ll notice in each interview, the first question was always for the actor to tell us a little about their character. I love this. It gives us an idea of how the actor gets into character and how they see the character they are playing.
Here’s how Felicity described Rogue One character Jyn Erso.
She has a very strong ideology. She hates The Empire, she hates everything they stand for. They have destroyed her family so anytime she sees a Stormtrooper she is an animal who wants to take them down. But at the same time, she has a wonderful humanity and she learns how to be a leader throughout the film. She starts off and she’s a bit of an outsider and is very suspicious and untrusting of people.
She’s had a bit of a hard life, there’s been quite a lot of struggle, so it’s not easy for her to trust people. Throughout the film you see her actually forming these kindred spirits with the other rebels, finding something that they all have a common dislike of The Empire and they unite over that despite their differences.
I always love hearing how the actor was chosen for the role. Were they hand picked out of thousands of auditions or did the director have a them specifically in mind for the role? Felicity shares how she first found out she got the role.
I had a phone call from Gareth Edwards, but my agent who I’m very close to and we’ve worked together for years and years and years. She said to me, ‘I’m pretty sure it’s yours.’ She said, ‘but, when Gareth phones you up can you make sure that you sound really surprised?’ You go like, ‘great.’ Because he wanted to break the news to us so he called and said, ‘I’d love you to play the part.’
And then I was thinking, ‘that’s great but there’s gonna be a lot of training involved in this film so I’d better get my ass to the gym.’
I was very surprised to find out just how much freedom/liberties Director Gareth Edwards took with Rogue One. You’ll read more about that when I write about his interview. But here’s what Felicity had to say about how she was able to collaborate on the film.
Throughout everything, it was very collaborative … Originally the costume – the first suggestions were sort of this combat style, combat trousers and a kind of flack vest. And I tried that and it didn’t feel quite right and it didn’t feel Star Wars enough and so we had a quite a lot of discussions about bringing in something, bringing in more of this Japanese style that you see in those early films with Obi-Wan Kenobi. And the martial arts type clothing that they wear.
And to bring out that side of Jyn to bring something a little bit more spiritual into her characterization through the costume. But, every step of the way it was a very, very open dialogue in terms of for all of us to bring as much as we wanted to the characters.
While we got to see 28 minutes of the film and that’s more than most everyone else has seen so far, I still have a ton of questions. I want to know more, I want to understand and get to know the characters. We see that Jyn has had a very tough, hard life. What happens to Jyn? Can we expect to see a reward, a sweet moment or even a love interest for Jyn?
I’m saying nothing. There may be something. [she laughs]
Oh yes, there is, there is very much. What’s great about her is her perseverance and her determination. It definitely pays off and at the end, you feel like her and her team, you feel like there’s justice.
Jyn has a lot of action in this film. How much training did Felicity have to go through for this role and does she have any prior martial arts experience? And my question to Felicity, did you get hurt at any point or just a lot of bumps and bruises?
I’ve never done any of this stuff before so it was just learning everything from the very beginning and just working very closely with the stunt team who took me through these acrobatic moves that Jyn would have to perform eventually in the film so it was just a lot of practice.
… I did a little bit of judo when I was younger and I absolutely loved it. So, I definitely enjoyed that side of it but there were a lot of early mornings of half asleep, running around the set and everyone is permanently in sweatpants when you’re in Star Wars. [she laughs] Kind of like, ‘oh you’re in it too, oh yeah.’
I always feel like I should keep my mouth shut about the injuries, with sort of health and safety for Disney. But, no, I’m going to reveal [she laughs] what happened. There’s a lot, you don’t realize because the adrenaline is pumping so much and then you get home and you’re just literally have enormous bruises all over. I probably bring it upon myself because I get really into it and take it very seriously.
I like to do as much as possible you know, it’s nice I think when you can see the actor actually doing as much of the stunt and the stunt team like that as well. So that it feels believable.
Now if she’s all bruised up, how do they cover that up when they’re shooting?
Interestingly you have to because a lot of time you’re doing quite a lot of wirework so you have a harness that you’re wearing. So, you always have another version of your costume and it’s amazing. Literally, there’s the stunt version and then you have the walking version and the sitting version. Exactly the same costume, you end up having all these different types that you’re wearing depending on what’s needed. Luckily, it was long sleeves so you never saw the [injuries], I could keep in disguise.
One of my favorites from any Q&A is to find out what the film and/or character means to the actor. Felicity discusses what Star Wars means to her.
Star Wars I feel the reason it’s lasted for so long is it’s about family, it’s not just blood relations it’s the family that you form with friends. I think what’s so special about it is those friendships are across different races, different languages, but it’s people who come together and they’re obviously united by fighting the forces of evil.
I think that’s what people, generations and generations tap into those relationships and really empathize with those characters.
I love how Felicity talked a lot about family and the friendships the cast created. They all work long hours together. I’d imagine it’d be horrible if they didn’t get a long. From everything we heard during the interviews, the cast all really formed a strong bond.
The thing that I would take from this that’s it’s an incredible thing to be part of but the thing that I actually love are the friendships. With the cast, I absolutely love all of them and everyone is very different and we all have our quirks and our ways but there is a real spirit of collaboration. I never felt like there were any huge egos, it felt like everyone was in it together and there was real support.
From working with a group of men you could think that they would be sort of trying to cut you down or compete but I was very lucky, they were very supportive throughout everything. I felt like we’ve all built a team off the set as well as when we were on and we were working. It takes a lot of time to get everyone to focus [she laughs] there’s a lot of joking and there are so many people and banter.
Rogue One character Jyn is another strong female lead in the Star Wars franchise. It’s great to see. I love that little girls have these awesome role models. Felicity says that she wanted the “audience to just really care about her [Jyn] and empathize with her and be in it alongside her.”
Jyn is not a damsel in distress. She doesn’t need to be saved and can survive on her own.
… we were very clear about just making sure that she could survive on her own. And she’s capable but also at the same time they do need each other, there is a team and a part of what makes someone strong is being able to work in a team. To rely on other people so it was trying to get that balance.
What I like about her is she’s not a princess, she’s not really rich, she’s not privileged, that’s what we’re used to seeing in these sort of leading Disney roles. She’s very much an ordinary woman and ordinary girl who’s had to make the best of things and I think what I would like young girls to take from it is resourcefulness and self-reliance. Jyn isn’t always sweetness and light and giggles, that she is exactly who she wants to be.
I think that’s what’s important that young girls don’t feel like they have to conform to some idea of what a girl should be. It’s like you can be whoever you want, whatever you are and take confidence in that and there isn’t a standard that we should all be working towards. It’s like, this is what perfection is because that makes everyone feel bad. It’s about celebrating what’s different about us and being allowed, society letting that come through.
Now it can’t be easy stepping into a role in Star Wars. Especially a lead role. When asked what the most difficult part of being in Star Wars was, Felicity said that it comes with a lot of pressure, “Star Wars is boss.”
Curious minds always want to know a person’s favorite character. Who’s Felicity’s favorite?
I’ve always like Han Solo. Just because Harrison Ford is really hot. Or was really hot. Come on. No, he’s still got it, he’s still got it. [she laughs]
Now the most important question.. will we ever see Jyn go to the dark side?
No way. [she laughs] No, she’s on the good side all the way. All the way.
I guess there’s an element isn’t there that Star Wars taps into. Well, it’s that choice that we have, oh it’s interesting you as an individual and particularly in terms of parents if your parents have certain beliefs and you disagree with those beliefs, do you go along with them? Because they’re your parents and that’s what you should do or do you hold onto your own sense of what you believe and in some ways reject your parents. And I guess that those themes could be quite pertinent at the moment.
But also that’s what Star Wars is about a lot. Isn’t it? It’s like, ‘who are you?’ It’s the question. And who do you choose to become?
Great, great moments from our chat with Felicity Jones who plays Rogue One character Jyn Erso! Don’t forget to stop back tomorrow. We’re interviewing Diego Luna.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters everywhere on December 16th In RealD 3D and IMAX 3D!