|Felicity Jones on the red carpet at Ryerson Theatre for "Like Crazy." (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI AGENCY)
Working without a script might not seem like the most intriguing idea to a novice actor. But for Felicity Jones, the prospect of starring in the unscripted romance, Like Crazy, was an irresistible challenge.
She was so jazzed about it that she taped her audition in the shower (clothed, in case you're wondering) and mailed it from her native Britain to L.A.-based director Drake Doremus (Douchebag).
"Usually you may have a doubt about something, but with this I felt so sure it was right," she said during an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival. "I just said to Drake, 'I have to be part of this in some way.' "
Prompted by Doremus's encouragement to lose all constraint, Jones, 27, sent in what would become part of the final scene of the movie.
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"He told me to be free -- 'you won't be judged,' " she added. "I thought, 'If he says that, then it's OK for me to set up a camera in my shower and film a scene; it'll be fine.' "
Like Crazy opens Friday in Toronto, Nov. 11 in Montreal and Nov. 18 in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, with other markets to follow.
In the film, Jones plays Anna, a British student in Los Angeles who falls in love with the furniture-designing Jacob (played by Anton Yelchin), shortly before she is due to return home. She overstays her visa and when she is not allowed back into the United States, the pair try to keep their long-distance romance alive.
It's a weighty romantic drama aimed square at twentysomethings who mostly get their notions of love from reality TV.
"We live in a world where I think our senses are somewhat dulled because there's so much information coming at us all the time," said Jones. "So it seems like it's a point in time where people are really needing to see people having intense feelings."
Jones, whose diverse credits include Julie Taymor's The Tempest and Ricky Gervais's Cemetery Junction, had only a few days to get acquainted with Yelchin before filming began.
"It was quite petrifying because I knew what we were about to embark on and the first time Anton and I met I thought, 'This is going to be really difficult if he's not cool,' " she recalled. "But luckily he was extraordinary. We met and straight away we went to a bookshop and talked about books."
That free-wheeling chemistry translated onto the screen, where, with only an outline and very little actual dialogue, the actors could fully inhabit their characters during extended takes that would last an upwards of 30 minutes.
"We were both able to find what we needed to do gradually and slowly ... It's a very natural thing to be working with Drake," added Jones, who has already filmed Doremus's next project with Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan.
Calling the film "gimmick-free," Jones is satisfied that their collaboration is an honest snapshot of those heady days when you fall madly in love with someone and what happens when those feelings start to fade.
"I hope people respond to that honesty," she said earnestly.
After a positive debut at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and she snagged best actress honours, it appears Like Crazy will appeal to the same audiences that embraced un-fairytale films like (500) Days of Summer and Before Sunrise.
And it's because the performances dip beneath the surface to achieve a level of heartbreaking realism that Like Crazy will have staying power, Jones thinks.
"There's something very voyeuristic about it," she said. "People love watching other human beings and to see them this close is actually quite exciting."
Yelchin raves about improv acting
After roles in Star Trek and Terminator Salvation, improv acting in a no-budget romance turned out to be the best thing Anton Yelchin could have done as an actor.
"It's probably the most liberating thing I've experienced while working," he said while promoting Like Crazy in Toronto this past September.
Working from a 50-page outline from director Drake Doremus and co-writer Ben York Jones, Yelchin and co-star Felicity Jones improvised a continent-spanning relationship that captures the angst of young love.
"It's a dramatic love story that shows first love and how painful that can be," said Yelchin. "It's not melodramatic. It's very honest."
Characterizing his experience making an unscripted romance a "beautiful mind f----," Yelchin said he cried by the time he'd finished reading the outline.
"It was so poignant and so moving. I called Drake right after and said, 'I'm in.' "
But this isn't Star Trek so don't hold your breath for a sequel.
"Like Crazy ends with a feeling of ambiguity that I think we all experience, especially when you don't know where your relationship is going," he said. "It's a like a cold, weird, sad feeling ... That's more interesting than having a definite answer."