During the last few years she’s impressed in the likes of Cemetery Junction, Hysteria and Albatross, while scoring mainstream success with Chalet Girl and being met with great critical recognition for her part in the Sundance breakout Like Crazy.
This month she can be seen in the lead role in Cheerful Weather For The Wedding (OUT NOW) which she stars in alongside an impressive British cast which includes Elizabeth McGovern, Luke Treadaway, Ellie Kendrick and MacKenzie Crook. We spoke to Felicity about her new film and some of the other projects she’s been working on.
You play Dolly in Cheerful Weather For The Wedding. Could you tell us a little bit about her and the situation she finds herself in?
Dolly is a young woman and we find her on her wedding day drinking rum and vomiting at the beginning of the film. So quickly you realize that something’s not quite right, and throughout the film you find out that she’s marrying someone who she’s not necessarily in love with and that there’s another man in her life who’s had a far more profound effect on her. So it’s about her dealing with that relationship and eventually marrying someone who seems like the wrong man.
It seemed to me like a particularly tragic story, because even though she’s marrying the wrong man there might not necessarily even be a right man there for her to turn to instead.
Exactly. I’m glad you said that. I think part of the intrigue about the film is that none of the characters are easy or clichéd or simplistic. Dolly is quite a complicated woman and you begin to realize that’s she’s actually quite alone, and that perhaps her fear – which may be true – is that there isn’t the right man for her, and her fear of the love affair not being right with Joseph (Luke Treadaway) forces her to marry someone with whom at least there’s no expectation.
The film is based on a novella written by Julia Strachey. Were you aware of it before becoming involved with the film?
Donald Rice, the director, he sent me the book and I just fell in love with it. I just thought it was extraordinary. I thought it was a succinct and unsentimental portrayal of a particular aspect of English society. And I loved how ensemble it was, that you got glimpses into lots of different people’s lives in quite a subtle way. And so that was my first introduction to the book when Donald sent it. But I’d also studied Virgina Woolf, I wrote my dissertation on her at university, so I was already familiar with the work of the Bloomsbury writers.
And was your passion for the book the key thing that secured your involvement?
Absolutely, yes. I just thought it was extraordinary, and it’s a very unusual book. It’s funny, but at the same time there’s a lot of tragedy in it. And it seems like it’s about lots of disparate characters who are trying to form connections with each other, but at the same time aware of their essential aloneness.
On the film’s commentary Donald Rice says that after you became involved he essentially built the film’s schedule around you. That must be extremely flattering.
Yeah, very much. It was just very complicated because I was filming something else at the same time. So during the week I’d be there filming Cheerful but at the weekend I’d be off filming Hysteria, so it was quite a complicated shoot. But I really appreciated Donald making it work because I was really anxious to do it.
You must have been pleased when Donald managed to secure this fantastic multi-generational cast of British actors around you and your schedule?
Well everyone is just fantastic, and everyone gets the chance – even though they might not be on screen for that long – you get the sense of the whole character. And I think that’s what Donald’s done so well. Suddenly there’s a look between two characters and you realise there’s a lot more depth than what they’re presenting on the surface. Elizabeth McGovern is fantastic; I love every moment of her delivery.
Ellie Kendrick plays your sister here, and you’ve played sisters before…
Yes, in The Diary of Anne Frank.
And are you tempted to do more television? Because Ellie for example is going off to do Game of Thrones next year, and you’re also starring alongside Elizabeth McGovern who has found incredible success on the small screen.
Yes, I would love to. I did Page Eight which came out on the BBC, and I love doing TV alongside films and theatre. But I think my main thing is to find good stories and good characters and to play people who are interesting and challenging so I’m open to it very much. And I think it’s a particularly exciting time for television at the moment.
You seem to have an incredibly busy schedule just with film alone at the moment?
It has been very busy and it continues to be. I’m going out to Sundance in January with a film called Breath In, which is my second collaboration with a director called Drake Doremus. So it doesn’t seem to be slowing down in any way, and that’s a good thing.
It must be great to work with Drake again after all the success and recognition that Like Crazy brought you?
It’s a collaboration that we both really enjoy and it seems to work, and I think we were both really lucky to find each other. This is a different kind of story to Like Crazy and tonally very different, but again it’s largely improvised.
And you’ve also completed work on The Invisible Woman?
Yes, we shot that over the summer, which of course Ralph Fiennes is also directing and playing Dickens. He was extraordinary to work with. It was hard work, but in a great way. He’s obviously an actor, and a phenomenal actor, so he doesn’t let you get away with anything that’s cliché or do anything that’s too obvious. So we did a lot of takes and tried a lot to build a very realistic character.
It seems like you play a lot of interesting roles that you can sink your teeth into. We rarely see you showing up as the token love interest.
Absolutely, I try and find roles where there’s a level of complexity and I think that’s just what I’m naturally attracted to. I think women and fascinating and complicated creatures and it’s important that that’s represented in film and television.
You’ve also auditioned in the past for roles in the likes of Jack Ryan and Snow White and the Huntsman. Are those the kind of roles that you’re still looking to pursue?
It’s always dependent on filmmaker and script, every decision that I make. But I think as an actor you always want to have variety and it’s a different challenge doing something on a larger scale so I’d be open to that.
And was there any substance to the rumours that you were in the running for a part in Captain America 2?
No, I’m not part of that. I haven’t auditioned for that one and I never even saw the script.
And finally, we know you’re attached to the forthcoming Warren Beatty and Nancy Meyers projects, but is there anyone else specifically you’d like to work with in the future?
Oh, yes. I’d love to work with actresses I grew up admiring like Helena Bonham-Carter and Samantha Morton, who have both had a profound effect on me growing up in different ways, and made me want to be an actor. It would be incredible to work with those kind of people that you’ve admired.