Felicity Rose Hadley Jones was born 17th October 1983 in Birmingham, and grew up in Bournville in the UK. The 5’3″ actress is the is daughter of Gareth Jones and Julia Hadley. Her parents met while working at the Wolverhampton Express and Star. Her father was a journalist while her mother was in advertising. They divorced when she was three, and she was brought up with her older brother by her mother alone near Worcestershire. Despite this, she has said that her family is “extremely close.” Felicity’s mum also had a passion for the arts and often took her children to movies and the theatre. When Felicity realised she had a passion for acting as a pre-teen she joined a drama club at the Custard Factory. Her uncle is actor Michael Hadley who she credits for encouraging her to pursue acting.
I was very earnest and focused from quite a young age – and geeky. At school I was called a swot. I always thought that if you just put your head down and got on with work you’d get away with far more [mischief] than if you were being explicitly naughty, so I studied.
Felicity attended Kings Norton Girls’ School in Birmingham. Later she joined King Edward VI Handsworth School, to complete A-levels. While at school Felicity began to attend the Central Junior Television Workshop, an after-school club in Birmingham. At 12 years old she landed her first role, in the 1996 family film The Treasure Seekers, two years later, she was cast as snobby Ethel Hallow in a new TV series for children called The Worst Witch. The series was an English-Canadian co-production, filmed in Montreal. She later reprised her role in the follow up series, Weirdsister College. At the age of 15 she joined the cast of the hit radio program The Archers. She also starred in the children series The Worst Witch and its follow-up Weirdsister College. Felicity then took a break to attend Wadham College in Oxford, graduating in 2006 with second-class honors in English. In Oxford she met sculptor and internet artist Ed Fornieles while he was studying at the Ruskin School of Art. They dated for almost a decade before going their separate ways in 2014.
She returned to television in 2007 with a regular role as Zoe Brogan in the Channel 4 mystery series Cape Wrath. Continuing to do TV work like the movie Northanger Abbey (2007) and an episode of Doctor Who, she turned to the big-screen as well. In 2008 she co-starred in films Flashbacks of a Fool and Brideshead Revisited, while the following year saw her as part of the cast of the period comedy Chéri, co-starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates.
More TV and film projects followed before Felicity created buzz with her role in Like Crazy, a highly-improvised film directed by Drake Doremus. The indie drama, which chronicled a transatlantic romance, received the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize, with Felicity winning the Special Jury Prize award as well. Felicity went on to star in several other projects during 2011, including Chalet Girl, a ski-based romantic comedy co-starring Ed Westwick and Brooke Shields, and the drama Hysteria, which chronicles the invention of the vibrator and co-stars Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal. She also secured a modeling contract with the Burberry brand.
In 2013, Felicity played the title role of the film Invisible Woman, directed by and co-starring Ralph Fiennes. The award-winning actor portrayed writer Charles Dickens, with Felicity playing theater actress Nelly Ternan, his very secretive mistress.
2014’s holiday season presented a key moment in Felicity’s career with her esteemed turn in the biopic The Theory of Everything, in which she played Jane Hawking, the first wife of famed physicist Stephen Hawking. The film follows the initial romance and then the struggles of the couple as Stephen is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Felicity received many award nominations for her role in the film, including both a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination.
In 2015, the actress appeared in the role of Jill Barker in the crime biopic True Story, co-starring James Franco as Christian Longo and Jonah Hill as Michael Finkel. The next year, in 2016, she became an international sensation with her blockbuster role as Jyn Erso in the long awaited and critically acclaimed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. A self-proclaimed feminist, Felicity was particularly excited by the role and considers it an important benchmark role for women in the entertainment business.
Felicity also has an extensive background in theatre. She completed a run in Michael Grandage’s production of Luise Miller, a role for which she earned rave reviews. Additional theater credits include the role of Mia in That Face at the Royal Court and the role of Laurel in Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden, which earned her outstanding reviews and a nomination at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for The Milton Shulman for Outstanding Newcomer.
When you’re a young actor, there’s this pressure to rush. But I hope to be doing this into my sixties and seventies, so I’d prefer to take my time. There’s so much of a desire in the entertainment industry for newness, a desire to build somebody up and then treat them as old news within six months.
When she is not acting, Felicity takes refuge from her busy schedule by cooking Italian food and watching Peaky Blinders, the BBC gangster series set in her hometown of Birmingham. She avoids ‘Googling’ herself, and does not maintain any form of social media.