When she’s at home, which isn’t very often these days, Felicity Jones likes to keep up with what’s going on in Ambridge. “I tune in when I can,” she says. “And my Mum listens every day, so she keeps me up to date on what’s happening.”
She does, of course, have a personal interest. Her acting career kicked off in earnest when, at 15, she landed the part of Emma Grundy in Radio 4’s much-loved soap. “I started on The Archers as a teenager and I continued all through university. At Oxford, I remember being in the library one day and jumping on the train to Birmingham [where the show is recorded] the next.”
These days, however, she’s a frequent visitor to LA, thanks to her latest film Like Crazy (in cinemas on Friday 27 January), which has been wowing audiences at film festivals.
Following its success at Sundance (where it won best film and a best actress gong for Felicity) and Toronto (where we meet), A-list film-makers are scrambling to sign her up.
“Is it OK if I say which ones?” she smiles. “OK, I met Noah Baumbach [The Squid and the Whale] – I really love his films. And I had a very brief meeting with Woody Allen, who I adore.”
Over the last few months, there have been several pinch-me moments – red carpets, rapturous applause, secret rendezvous with directors and being signed up as the “face” of Burberry.
Quietly spoken and with a strikingly pretty face that lights up on camera, she seems younger than her 28 years. Today she’s dressed in a blue polka-dot dress. “Yes, from Top Shop!”
She grew up in Bournville (of Cadbury’s fame). Her father was a journalist and her mother worked in a newspaper ad department, but the pair split up when Felicity was just three years old.
“I’m very close to both of my parents,” she says. “They always treated me in quite an adult way and they always encouraged us to explore different things. And if that doesn’t work out, well, you explore something else.”
Her uncle is the actor Michael Hadley, and he, along with her parents, encouraged her to act. “We would go on holidays as an extended family and we would constantly be making up plays and making our parents sit and watch them.”
After A-levels, she toyed with the idea of drama school. “But the good thing about Oxford is that you can study and there’s an opportunity to act. And, looking back, I’m so glad that I had that experience. I found some real soul mates.” She left Wadham College, Oxford (with a respectable 2:1 in English), and her career has been progressing steadily ever since.
On TV there was Northanger Abbey, an episode of Doctor Who and The Diary of Anne Frank, and her films include Brideshead Revisited, a starring role in Ricky Gervais’s Cemetery Junction (Monday Sky Comedy) and Chalet Girl, in which she played a working-class lass who falls for a posh boy at a ski resort.
And then came Like Crazy, a small-budget film that has changed everything. She plays an English girl who meets fellow student Anton Yelchin while studying in LA, and they fall head over heels in love before she has to return to the UK.
Over the course of the film, director Drake Doremus gives the audience an intimate portrait of a couple struggling to keep the flame burning brightly as they are separated.
“It’s about the struggle of being in love with another person,” she says. “You fall in love and that’s the easy bit – the first few months when you are totally intoxicated by another human being and it’s the most exciting thing you have ever experienced – but it’s about how one navigates beyond that.
“It’s very difficult and, especially in this film, they are constantly returning to this heyday – they’ve mythologised their own relationship. I like this idea of two people who meet each other and fall in love but have to figure out how they can practically be together.”
Ms Jones has a steady boyfriend, artist Ed Fornieles, and because work often takes her to far-flung places, she knows only too well that separation is hard on a relationship.
“I definitely empathised with how it feels to be away from home, to be in transit,” she says. “The whole point of being in a relationship is that you want to spend time with someone, and to do it across Skype and email, which we do when we’re apart, is very difficult.”
Later in the year she’ll be seen starring alongside Hugh Dancy in the Victorian-era comedy Hysteria. Dancy plays Dr Mortimer Granville, who invented the very first vibrator.
“When I read the script, I thought it was a great premise. And it’s absolutely true – a very uptight Englishman managed to invent the vibrator. They would sell them in magazines for ‘relaxing stressed women’. They didn’t believe that women could have sexual pleasure. It’s hard to believe because it wasn’t that long ago.”
It is, however, a long way from Ambridge and Ms Jones can’t quite believe that she has travelled so far in such a short time.
“I like the gypsy lifestyle and I’m at a time in my life when I can enjoy that. It feels as if, maybe, in a few years, I’ll want to be more settled, but at the moment I just want to enjoy the adventure.”
Like Crazy is in UK cinemas now
This is an edited version of an article from the issue of Radio Times magazine that went on sale 24 January 2012.