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Why we're 'Crazy' for Felicity Jones

The young English actress has turned heads (and snagged an award) with her performance as one half of a couple involved in a tricky, extremely long-distance love affair in this month’s ”Like Crazy”

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Before Felicity Jones bared her heart for her performance in the Sundance award winner Like Crazy, she bared just about everything else. Dead set on winning the role, the 27-year-old British actress compiled an audition tape that included her take on one of the film’s most intimate scenes: a final, wordless sequence set in the shower. ”It was probably a quick bout of insanity,” says Jones, who does seem to have a rather soft-spoken demeanor. When director Drake Doremus saw the tape, he cast her that very day. ”No one else who sent in a tape did a scene beyond what we asked for, let alone that scene,” says Doremus, with whom Jones has just wrapped a second film, as yet untitled. ”It signified to me that this was the one we were looking for.”

Like Crazy stars Jones as Anna, an English girl in L.A. who outstays her student visa to be with her American boyfriend (Anton Yelchin) — and for her troubles ends up barred from the U.S. Raw, personal, and shot with entirely improvised dialogue, the romance (which is rated PG-13 and out Oct. 28) required Jones to put a lot of herself into the part. She wrote pages of love letters and poetry from Anna’s point of view. ”When I first read the script,” she says, referring to a condensed 60-page description of plot and characters, ”I knew immediately that I really wanted the role.”

Her instincts were right. The film premiered at Sundance on Jan. 22 to good buzz. A week later she was awakened in her London flat by a 3 a.m. phone call, which she assumed was bad news. It wasn’t: The voice on the other end informed her that she had won a Special Jury Prize for her performance. ”It was a really nice surprise,” says Jones. ”Not only did no one die, but I also got an award.” The festival chatter helped float her star a few notches higher, and she used the opportunity to meet with filmmakers she admires, including Jason Reitman (Juno) and Noah Baumbach (Greenberg). But the prospect of onscreen ubiquity doesn’t tempt her, at least not yet. ”There is something nice about anonymity,” she says. Last summer she turned down the lead role in the big-budget Snow White film opposite Julia Roberts (the part went to Abduction‘s Lily Collins) to perform in the play Luise Miller in a small London theater. ”I had already committed,” explains Jones. ”I had worked with the director of that play two years ago, so we have a long relationship, and the two projects just couldn’t work out together.”

Offers are coming quickly to Jones, who’s already shot the BBC spy drama Page Eight and the period comedy Hysteria with Maggie Gyllenhaal. The actress also has the luxury of auditioning the regular way. ”I’ve got a few projects lined up,” says Jones. ”I don’t think I’ll do the shower thing again.”